The National Catholic Review

 THE EDINBURGH MISSIONARY CONFERENCE  - Centenary Celebration    

From June 14-23, in  1910 over 1,200 Christians mainly from the English-speaking world gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland as representatives of a wide variety of Protestant mission agencies. They evaluated the progress of their missionary activity in the non-Christian world, strongly confident in the continued  progress of the gospel. Only one Orthodox guest, and no Roman Catholic organizations were invited. Yet this conference laid the foundations of the ecumenical movement of the 20th century and is considered by many,  together with the Second Vatican Council, as the most significant Christian gathering of the last century.   It set and defined the central the agenda for the churches – evangelization and  mission to be done in an ecumenical context.  We can note that at the close of the Prayer Week for Unity, on 29 January of this year, Pope Benedict  referred to this Edinburgh 1910 conference as “a crucial event in the birth of the modern ecumenical movement.”

 From June 2-6, 2010, some 300 delegates from over 60 countries and virtually all Christian denominations  gathered again in Edinburgh (and in several other locations)  to honor the centenary of Edinburgh 1910 and consider means  of witnessing to Christ today.  In addition to celebrating the extraordinary growth of God's Church in the last hundred years, participants prayerfully committed themselves to continued mission and ecumenical cooperation.

Participants included  repreesentatives of the  Orthodox,  Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Independent traditions and many women, making it more  representative  of the rich diversity of world Christianity today.  Yet in spite of this  broad participation  some  still judged that youth, the global South,  and Charismatic and Independent church groups were not sufficiently represented.

The final celebration was held at the same venue as the World Missionary Conference of 1910,  the Church of Scotland’s Assembly Hall. Delegates adopted a call to common mission  that saw the need for authentic dialogue, respectful engagement and humble witness to the uniqueness of Christ among people of other faiths and no faith.  As well as reaching out and working together, the delegates pledged to  welcome one another in their diversity and  affirm their membership through baptism in the One Body of Christ.

Peter Schineller, S.J.