The Conference of European Churches (CEC) released this month the progress report for its major mission research project, showing a steady progress since the projects launch in 2004.
The release of the 18-month progress report for Researching European Mission and Evangelism (REM) comes after its submission to the Central Committee of CEC earlier this month.
REM, the three-year research project of the CEC Research Program Reference Group led by the Rev. Darrell Jackson, aims to facilitate the joint effort by CEC member churches on mission, as well as the mapping of new and existing European mission and evangelism programs, initiatives, spiritualities, education, resources, agencies, religious societies, and movements.
According to the briefing paper of the research report, three research priorities were finally decided after CECs June 2005 Central Committee meeting in Crete namely proselytism and mission; ethnic minority and migrant congregations; as well as missionary congregations (or Missional Church).
In order to enable researcher to investigate in greater depth how churches can cooperate together in common mission action, "Learning Laboratory" was developed in three different selected countries that offer the most appropriate context, according to the briefing paper.
"Learning Laboratory" works out as local or national Church representatives from the particular country or region within Europe start some roundtable gatherings in which they reflect and engage together in the same area of mission.
CEC researchers in mission are presented as a "Participant observer," according to the briefing paper, while "Partners in Learning" from local or national churches elsewhere within Europe are assigned to pose questions, to make observations, to offer suggestions, and to share in the learning experience.
In addition, CEC celebrates that the REM project has opened up many new opportunities for CEC to work together with the evangelical and Pentecostal churches of Europe, which do not have membership with CEC.
Effective patterns of cooperation with the European Evangelical Alliances, the European Missionary Alliance, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Europe have been established, the briefing paper of the research report states.
The Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance was recently invited to become a member of the research group as well.
Through the REM project, CEC is anticipating many other important outcomes. In particular, as the REM research group has been publishing the research papers, a Mission Directory for Europe is now under development. The directory will digitalize all the research findings of REMs three research priorities. REM also seeks to cooperate with research individuals and organizations of similar interest, sharing research findings, thus the knowledge of mission in Europe can be extended.
Meanwhile, following up the most recent progress report, the next eighteen months will see the preparation of a final report from REM. According to REM, it is expected to contain recommendations for CECs ongoing and future engagement in order to tackle the growing challenges to mission posed by Europe in constant transition.
CEC is a fellowship of 126 Orthodox, Protestant, and Old Catholic Churches along with 43 associate organizations from all countries on the European continent.