Partnership in mission : a critical historical evaluation of the relationship between ‘older’ and ‘younger’ churches with special reference to the World Mission Council policy of the Church of Scotland
Author(s)Duncan, Graham A.
Contributor(s)Hofmeyr, J.W. (Johannes Wynand), 1947-
KeywordsWorld Mission Council
Church of Scotland
Cultural transformation theory
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AbstractThe writing of contemporary history has implications regarding objectivity, subjectivity, the idea of progress, ecumenical history and its relationship to world history. Riane Eisler’s dominator and partnership models in her cultural transformation theory provide an appropriate hermeneutical basis for a historical consideration of the concept of partnership in mission (PIM) along with traditional biblical concepts which have guided mission theology for centuries. Partnership in mission is a laudable concept in the furtherance of participation in God’s mission. It has a distinguished history despite the difficulties experienced in making it a functioning reality. It has had the potential to enable sending and receiving churches to experience fellowship, humility and dignity in relationships. However, the issue of power in the ‘older’ sending churches has been an intrusive factor in preventing the theory from becoming a reality. In the case of the Church of Scotland, which stands in the grand ecumenical tradition of the twentieth century, despite great strides being made over the years to develop mutually enriching relations, increasing problems presented the opportunity for partner relationships to become authentically interdependent. Unfortunately, vulnerability on the part of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council has led to a return to a colonial/dominator approach to partnership. Recent developments in the Church of Scotland indicate that partnership in mission, while still the official model on which mission policy is based, has been challenged in its essence. Attempts to reform the work of the World Mission Council by means of a business consultancy have added no apparent value to the work of the Council or to its worldwide relationships. A lack of flexibility characterises recent developments along with a refusal to examine any other possible models which will enable the maintenance of existing partner church relationships. This has resulted in policy decisions, which affect them deeply, being made without any reference to partner churches. Nor has the Church’s constituency in Scotland been adequately consulted. For the first time in recent history policy decisions of WMC have been the cause of much discussion and deep division within the Church of Scotland. Further, they have ruptured valuable long term relationships and have through differential approaches to partners posed a potential threat to relationships between younger churches and possibly to a diminution of the standing of the Church of Scotland in the ecumenical movement. Opportunities for repentance, self sacrifice and the growth of fellowship in relationships have been spurned to the eventual cost of the Church of Scotland. Authentic partnership in mission is a distinct possibility through the development of relations based on mutuality, where resources must be subject to the norms of accountability, horizontal relations and management of the gifts of God for the people of God.
Duncan, GA 2007, Partnership in mission : a critical historical evaluation of the relationship between ‘older’ and ‘younger’ churches with special reference to the World Mission Council policy of the Church of Scotland', PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd <http://hdl.handle.net/2263/28763>