The Presbyterian Church (USA) will sponsor one of its largest world mission conferences this year and is challenging presbyteries in the months leading up to the five-day gathering.
Missionaries, mission partners, volunteers and supporters throughout the denomination from around the world will convene Oct. 2-6 at the denomination's headquarters in Louisville, Ky. for World Mission '07. Some 500-750 Presbyterians involved or interested in mission will attend the conference, which will feature keynote speakers, workshops and other special events including a panel presentation on Islam.
World Mission '07 will be immediately followed by Mission Challenge '07 – an effort to send out Presbyterian missionaries to share their mission stories in 134 of the 173 presbyteries in the United States and Puerto Rico. Presbyteries are challenged to have 100 percent of their congregations involved in the mission event, while host churches are urged to choose at least one mission worker to support spiritually and financially.
The purpose of both World Mission '07 and Mission Challenge '07 "is to energize people to go back to their presbyteries and congregations with renewed appreciation, passion and commitment for Presbyterian mission," explained Kathy Reeves, World Mission '07 conference coordinator, according to the Presbyterian News Service.
During the conference at least 45 PC (USA) missionaries will be commissioned for Mission Challenge '07.
Conference and challenge organizers say the overall goal of the coordinated events is to help reconnect the church directly to the denomination's mission works.
"We're trying to change the culture of the PC (USA), whether it takes one year or 10 years," said Bruce Whearty, Mission Challenge '07 coordinator and former missionary in Vanuatu, according to the denomination's news service. "We have a 40-year trend of diminishing connection that we have to reverse," he added.
Some of the keynote conference speakers include the Rev. Hendrik Shanazari, executive secretary of the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Iran; the Rev. Kenneth Bailey, author and lecturer in Middle Eastern New Testament studies who was a PC (USA) missionary teaching at seminaries in the Middle East for 40 years; and the Rev. Jerry Cannon, president of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus.