Conference Addresses Challenges Facing Mission in Europe

Post a Comment » Written on May 8th, 2007     
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BERLIN, GERMANY (May 8, 2007) – Rampant secularism and a growing influx of immigrants from other cultures and countries represents a significant challenge for church planting efforts and other ministries in Europe, a challenge addressed during a recent conference centered around the theme of “Joining Hands for Mission in Europe.”

Organized by the International Federation of Free Churches (IFFEC) of which the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is a member, the conference was held in Berlin and included 85 participants representing 18 countries. A number of individuals represented the ECC’s Department of World Mission and Church Growth and Evangelism.

BerlinThe focus was the evangelization of Europe in a holistic way, through a renewed commitment to church planting. Participants were encouraged to explore shared ministry initiatives and consider new ways to collaborate, share ideas and resource common ministry. Time also was spent in joint worship, Bible study, prayer, church visits, workshops, and examining case studies.

“The location may characterize in some measure the importance of the theme,” says Andy E. Larsen, a Covenant project missionary with the Mosaics Project who also participated in the meeting. The conference was centered in a youth hostel located about one kilometer from where the Iron Curtain divided East and West Berlin for nearly half a century.

“That wall symbolically, ideologically and physically divided nations, families and most of the parents of the participants at this conference from each other,” Larsen observes. “It was once a strong reminder of the depths of human suspicion, depravity and enmity that can develop between people, nations and even colleagues in ministry. The conference was a fresh reminder that in Christ, things can be different.”

Larsen’s sentiments were echoed by another participant, Don Davenport, one of the ECC representatives. “Eph 2.15 tells us of the wall of hostility is being broken,” Davenport reflects. “The conference has begun this process by bringing leaders together to break down the walls of secularism and religious dogma in Europe.”

In addition to Larsen and Davenport, other ECC representatives included Gary Walter, executive minister of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, along with another departmental colleague Dave Olson; Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission; and Covenant missionaries Robert Reed, Leonid Regheta, Ken Satterberg, Barb Boca-Swanson, Jerry Reed, and John and Letha Kerl, the new regional coordinators for Covenant missions in Europe.

Editor’s note: The accompanying photo shows Peterson with Ansgar Hörsting. Andy Larsen provided most of the notes used in preparing this article. To read a more detailed summary of the conference prepared by participants, please see “Berlin Conference Summary.”

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