In New Delhi the November narcotic of bougainvillaea and of fragrant roses swiftly gave way to the hustle and stir of an invading ecumenical Assembly. Among the Christian participants of all races from many lands there was little of the relaxed atmosphere of India, little time for its peaceful trees and its floating white clouds. The World Council of Churches’ Third Assembly was a wheels-within-wheels affair, demanding all the energies of its participants, and replete with bright and dull seasons of its very own.

In the Vigyan Bhavan Hall one spectacle or another deeply moved most of the delegates. In view of Christianity’s fragmented witness in the world, the uniting of churches whose fellowship long had been broken warmed many hearts. Since this global ecumenical gathering was the first of its kind in Asia it helped dispel the prejudice that Christianity is simply a Western religion. Participants lauded Bishop Newbigin’s manifesto, moreover, that only the spirit of missions informing and infusing the ecumenical movement can assure its meaningfulness and permanence. Delegates also realized that a dedicated group of evangelicals, however much a minority, were not running away from their privileges, but in dialogue and discussion took repeated opportunity to press their positions across lines. Nor could anyone escape the positive and evangelistic thrust of certain missionary churches, among them young churches like Indonesia no less than older churches like Brazil. Representatives of the evangelical press who covered the event not only traded impressions but implored God on their knees for some great and glorious turn in assembly affairs.

Approval And Anxiety

Anxiety ran as deep as approval. A fluid, ambiguous concept ...

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