A report prepared especially forCHRISTIANITY TODAYby Dr. G. Aiken Taylor, editor of the Presbyterian Journal:
“From Missions to Mission,” theme of the first joint assembly of the Divisions of Home and Foreign Missions of the National Council of Churches meeting December 8–11 in Atlantic City, implied to nearly 500 delegates the failure of the churches to recognize their supreme mission in the world in their preoccupation with the “missions enterprise”—pictured as an administrative “static ecclesiastical pattern” (in which some felt involved, some not).
More profoundly, the theme indicated the existential situation and the current theological pattern: churches being forced to reassess their mission by the pressure of revolutionary changes within their own enterprises at home and abroad. To keep pace with change (the theme suggested) the churches must themselves change or become lost in the shuffle. As one delegate saw it, “paternalism is becoming fraternalism because the formerly paternalized are demanding it.”
“Change,” and its sequel “unity” (for the first time superseding “cooperation”), were the conference big words. Speaker after speaker referred to “catastrophic changes,” “revolutionary changes” in social and economic patterns, in attitudes of nationals toward “foreigners,” in missionary concepts, in service concepts, in theology. And speaker after speaker saw the only solution in a deeper, more effective “unity.” One called flatly for “re-structuring” the NCC.
The most influential address was not delivered to the conference at all. Presented before the General Board of the NCC a week previously by Dr. Virgil A. Sly, chairman of the executive board of the Division of Foreign Missions, it was sent in advance to delegates ...1
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