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Growing Churches in the Australian Context

An Ecumenical Mission Story

Mission provided a major impetus for the modem ecumenical movement , both globally, and here in Australia. Here, the National Missionary Council (NMC) was formed in 1926, predating the former Australian Council of Churches (ACC). The NMC went through several transformations before becoming a commission of the ACC in the 1960s. While it originally focussed on overseas missions more recently it included a broader task of assisting Australian churches in their common reflection on the content and meaning of the gospel and the manner of its proclamation and witness. Commission on Mission became part of the National Councils of Churches in Australia (NCCA) at its inception in 1994.

In late 2004 the Commission on Mission was wound up, with a small amount of money left to 'seed' a new initiative on mission. In 2006 the NCCA established a working group to explore a new project that was eventually called 'Growing Churches in the Australian Context'. The goal is to bring Australian Churches together for a special consultation on mission. The Working Group has a diverse membership with participants from the Assemblies of God, Salvation Army, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Churches, the Churches of Christ and Indigenous Christians. In 2008 pilot 'Convocations ' were conducted in Melbourne and Sydney, followed by Brisbane and Adelaide. The Convocations were co-sponsored by the Victorian Council of Churches, the NSW Ecumenical Council, Queensland Churches Together, and the South Australian Council of Churches respectively. The days centred around the questions 'what is health and growth', 'what is the Australian context' and 'what does it mean to be a growing church in the Australian context'.

These successful initial Convocations, guided by Kingsley Nowell (Salvation Army), included a wide representation of the different streams within the Australian church. There was a healthy sense of unity and trust in each room, and a shared commitment to 'cheer each other on' in the mission that God is calling us to perform, separately, and together.

The Working Group is now considering how best to carry the project forward, in co-operation with Churches, State Ecumenical Councils, and local structures. This may result in a 'roll out' of similar conversations around the country, culminating in a major national consultation closer to 2010, the centenary of the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference. The 1910 conference was a primary stimulus for the modern day conversation between Christian churches of different traditions around a shared identity and purpose...

'that we may be one , that the world will know' (John 17:23).


One planned outcome for the Edinburgh 2010 centenary celebrations is central to the Growing Churches in the Australian Context Working Group's activities: 'The biblical mission imperative will be affirmed and articulated within our contemporary contexts in terms of mission in the world with particular focus on evangelisation'.

The Working Group is hoping to plan similar days to the 2008 Convocations for Perth, Hobart, and Darwin if possible, and also to gather a 'brainstorming' sesson for the way forward.



Notes from Convocation Days
The following files are provided as raw data from the pilot and initial convocations.

 Melbourne - 18 April 2008

 Sydney - 16 May 2008

 Brisbane - 11 November 2008

 Adelaide - 20 November 2008

(If you cannot open these files, you will need to download and install the latest free version of Adobe Reader from www.Adobe.com.)

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