Cape Town 2010 is no congress of old lions. The theme of "God on the Move" is frequently repeated, and the emphasis is on the church's future, not the past. Most participants are in the prime of their working life, and a sizable number are in their twenties. Wednesday night the worship band had them dancing in the aisles.
But Wednesday night's last presentation featured the living memory of Lausanne in the persons of Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar, seated on stage and recounting the history of the Lausanne movement. It was a fond moment for the many delegates who know the two or have been influenced by them. The two Latin Americans remembered congresses from the 1960s, including the 1966 Berlin World Congress on Evangelism, that led up to the first Lausanne congress in 1974. Escobar recalled his work on the drafting of the Lausanne Covenant, now so widely embraced but then subject to intense pressure and criticism. Both men recalled not only the major conferences in Lausanne and Manila, but many smaller and regional gatherings affiliated with Lausanne that worked to clarify and direct the evangelical movement. The affirmation of wholistic ministry–the embrace of both evangelism and social involvement, integrated together–clearly remains a central achievement of the movement, as Escobar and Padilla think of it. And that, too, is a pointer to the future.