One hundred years after the first-ever global missions conference, leaders representing mission agencies from around the world will again gather, but this time in Tokyo.
An expected 1,500 mission leaders will convene in Tokyo to attend the conference on May 11-15, 2010. These leaders will be involved in serious consultation about world missions in the morning, and then will be joined by the public in the evening to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the original Edinburgh meeting in 1910.
The Tokyo meeting will be the third such global missions conference. The second was held in 1980 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Dr. Yong Cho, international director of the Global Network of Mission Structures (GNMS) and one of the key organizers of the Tokyo 2010 meeting, said the international gathering is expected to be a time when mission groups can learn from each other and when hopefully inter-mission strategies will emerge.
"Our Protestant mission is individualistic," Cho said to The Christian Post in an interview. "We want to have more open communication and partnership. This meeting, in particular, we are encouraging the new or emerging mission organizations from different countries to come and hopefully be more encouraged and learn from the West and other more experienced mission organizations."
In the tradition of the Edinburgh 1910 meeting, no one will be invited to the Tokyo conference. Instead, all delegates will be selected by mission associations and agencies as their representatives.
But unlike the Edinburgh 1910 and 1980 meetings, the 2010 gathering is expected to be more representative of the world with more attendees expected from non-Western backgrounds. Two-thirds of the Tokyo 2010 attendees are expected to be from non-Western countries.
Cho hopes that a global mission network will result from the 2010 meeting.
"As of yet, there is still no global network of mission organizations networking together to fully engage all the peoples of the world in a systematic way," Cho said to Mission Frontier magazine. "We remain largely ignorant of what each other is doing. We need more cooperation in research and joining planning to address this, and our hope is that Tokyo 2010 will get us moving in that direction."
The success of the Edinburgh 1910 meeting inspired the founding of the World Council of Churches, an ecumenical body that now claims to represent 560 million Christians. Edinburgh was organized by Christian leaders involved in the Student Volunteer Movement, a huge missionary movement involving college students in the late 19th century. The movement itself was formed after a 1886 meeting convened by D.L. Moody, the American evangelist who would later found the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
Edinburgh 1910 was the first time in the history of the world that a group of Christians that diverse had met together on a global scale. The meeting allowed for mission leaders to tackle together many mission field problems and demonstrated the basic unity of the Protestant mission world.
Because of the global significance of Edinburgh 1910 to the overall Christian community, a total of four key conferences is planned next year to commemorate the meeting's 100th anniversary. They include the Global Mission Consultation and Celebration in Tokyo on May 11-15; the Edinburgh 2010 on June 2-6; the Lausanne 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa; and a conference for divinity schools and universities in Boston on Nov. 4-7.
The Tokyo 2010 conference will be the only meeting for mission agencies and that will focus on world missions, as the original Edinburgh conference did. The other meetings are geared more toward church leaders or Christian educators.