Lausanne III: Cape Town 2010 International Congress on World Evangelization

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE) recently announced plans for the Third International Congress on World Evangelization, to be held 16-25 October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. “Lausanne III: Cape Town 2010” will gather mission and church leaders from around the world to address challenges and opportunities that are before the Church with respect to world evangelization.

Rev. S. Douglas Birdsall, LCWE executive chair, says the year 2010 was selected to celebrate the centenary of the historic World Missionary Conference convened in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910 under the leadership of Dr. John R. Mott. The selection of Cape Town also has historic significance, as William Carey, considered the father of modern missions, first proposed an international missionary conference to be held there in 1810. “We believe the 200th anniversary of William Carey's vision and the centennial of its fulfillment is an appropriate time to once again encourage international leaders to come together to chart the course for the work of world evangelization in the twenty-first century,” Birdsall said. Dr. Michael Cassidy, founder of African Enterprise and a member of the Lausanne III advisory council, also believes Lausanne III “will add enormous impetus and encouragement to the African Church to fulfill its destiny in world missions in the twenty-first century.”

“There is no doubt we have entered a new era in global Christianity,” Birdsall added. “We need to strategize about how we can advance the spread of the gospel around the world. This is especially important as our world continues to shrink through new technologies, and as the evangelical population has shifted to the southern hemisphere.”

Lindsay Brown, newly appointed international director for LCWE, points to the dramatic shifts that have taken place in Christianity over the course of the last century, shifts that are reflected in the leadership of Lausanne III. Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda will serve as the chairman of the Africa host committee. The Lausanne III advisory council is chaired by Dr. Samuel Escobar from Latin America. Bishop Hwa Yung of the Methodist Church in Malaysia is chairman of the participant selection committee. The program committee will be chaired by Rev. Ramez Atallah, director of the Bible Society of Egypt. Lausanne III Congress director Rev. Blair T. Carlson, a former international crusade director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, grew up in Hong Kong and has spent most of his life working and living in locations around the world.

Cape Town has literally opened its arms to the Lausanne III Congress. Christians throughout the area are offering their homes to host as many as one thousand of the four thousand church and mission leaders from two hundred countries who are expected to attend. “We have been overwhelmed by the welcome we have received from Cape Town,” said Robyn Claydon, LCWE deputy chair. “We look forward with great excitement to what God is going to accomplish through this event and the city of Cape Town.”

The first International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne I) was held in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The gathering was convened under the leadership of Rev. Billy Graham and drew more than 2,700 evangelical leaders from 150 countries. The focus of the meeting was both practical and theological, producing the Lausanne Covenant, a document that provides theological underpinnings for intentional collaborative world evangelization. The Covenant includes fifteen articles dealing with major issues such as the authority of scripture, the nature of evangelism, Christian social responsibility, the urgency of world evangelization, faith and culture and the nature of spiritual conflict. The Covenant has provided a framework for unity and serves as the statement of faith for hundreds of organizations around the world.

In 1989, 3,600 leaders from 190 nations attended Lausanne II in Manila, Philippines. The resulting Manila Manifesto reaffirmed and expanded upon The Lausanne Covenant and the call to “Proclaim Christ Until He Comes.”

The foundational work for Lausanne III began with the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization in Thailand which brought together 1,500 participants in thirty-one simultaneous consultations to deal with the seminal issues in respect to world evangelization. Two years later, the preparation continued with a concerted effort to engage a new generation of Christian leadership, as five hundred younger Christian leaders from 120 countries gathered for the 2006 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Malaysia. The Lausanne Bi-Annual Leadership meeting this June in Budapest will accelerate the planning for the Lausanne III Congress.

“The pressing issues before us today, such as engaging worldviews increasingly hostile to Christianity, the threat of terrorism and HIV/AIDS, coupled with new opportunities and new technologies, are very different from those issues faced in 1974,” Birdsall explained. “New global challenges require thoughtful and prayerful global responses. We pray that Lausanne III: Cape Town 2010 will serve to unite and energize the Church with a new vision and a new commitment to partnership for the work of world evangelization for a new time.”