One of the most respected and significant world mission conferences in history recently announced that it will hold its third international gathering in 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE) announced plans for the Third International Congress on World Evangelization to be held Oct. 16-25, 2010, according to an announcement Friday. "Lausanne III: Cape Town 2010" will convene mission and church leaders worldwide to discuss challenges and opportunities for the church in terms of world evangelism.
"There is no doubt we have entered a new era in global Christianity," said the Rev. S. Douglas Birdsall, LCWE executive chairman, in a statement. "We need to strategize about how we can advance the spread of the Gospel around the world.
"This is especially important as our world continues to shrink through new technologies, and as the evangelical population has shifted to the Southern hemisphere," he added.
The year 2010 was chosen for the event to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the historic World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910, which is regarded as the starting point of the modern ecumenical movement.
In addition, Cape Town was chosen in honor of William Carey, considered the father of modern missions, who first proposed an international missionary conference to be held there in 1810.
"We believe the 200th anniversary of William Carey's vision and the centennial of its fulfillment is an appropriate time to, once again, encourage international leaders to come together to chart the course for the work of world evangelization in the 21st century," Birdsall said.
Host city Cape Town is said to have "opened its arm" to the Lausanne III Congress, according to LCWE. Christians throughout the region are offering their homes to host as many as one thousand of the 4,000 church and mission leaders from 200 countries expected to attend.
"We have been overwhelmed by the welcome we have received from Cape Town," said Robyn Claydon, LCWE Deputy Chair. "We look forward with great excitement to what God is going to accomplish through this event and the city of Cape Town."
The first International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne I) was held in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The gathering of more than 2,700 evangelical leaders from 150 countries led by the Rev. Billy Graham resulted in The Lausanne Covenant – a document defining the theological ground works for collaborative world evangelization. It also provided a framework for unity and serves as the statement of faith for hundreds of Christian organizations worldwide.
Over a decade later, Lausanne II took place in Manila, Philippines, which produced the Manila Manifesto which reaffirmed and expanded upon The Lausanne Covenant and the call to "Proclaim Christ Until He Comes." The 1989 gathering attracted 3,600 leaders from 190 nations.
"The pressing issues before us today, such as engaging worldviews increasingly hostile to Christianity, the threat of terrorism, and HIV/AIDS, coupled with new opportunities and new technologies, are very different from those issues faced in 1974," Birdsall explained. "New global challenges require thoughtful and prayerful global responses."
Lausanne III will be directed by leaders from a wide-range of countries and denominations. Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda will serve as chairman of the Africa Host Committee. The Lausanne III Advisory Council is chaired by Dr. Samuel Escobar from Latin America, while Bishop Hwa Yung, of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, is chairman of the Participant Selection Committee.
"We pray that Lausanne III: Cape Town 2010 will serve to unite and energize the Church with a new vision and a new commitment to partnership for the work of world evangelization for a new time," said Birdsall.