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Melanesian Messenger Online distributed by the
Church of the Province of Melanesia
Participants of the Provincial Evangelism Consultation
Photo No. : P080619-1
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COMMUNIQUE - A Way Forward for Evangelism
June 19, 2008

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] On 9-12 of June 2008, 20 Church of Melanesia workers including religious communities met at headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood at Tabalia in Solomon Islands to review the evangelism work of the Church and make recommendations on the way forward.

It was most fitting that the consultation was held at Tabalia in recognition of the role of the brothers in evangelism to date. The four religious communities have played a major role in this mission, as well as the early missionaries and evangelists of the church. It was recognized that it is time for renewed commitment to this central role of the church. Because of increasing evidence of nominalism, the breakdown of families, isolation as a constraining factor, sectarianism, and sexual immorality, define boundaries between gospel and culture the church needs to use evangelism as a way to address these issues.

We believe that evangelism is sharing or proclaiming of the good news of Godís love through Christ to effect personal commitment to Christ. We embrace the Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic strands of the Anglican Church and encourage them in the way forward for the evangelism ministry of the Church.

Much discussion took place at the consultation about the methods to be used in evangelism and it was recognized that it is the religious orders role to continue to lead the church. We must also must look to harness the energy and commitment of lay people and home groups, to develop outreach programs, training and rallies, to renew our defence of the faith against those who distort the truth of Christianity. We need to develop new curriculum and teaching aids for religious orders, institutions and RTCís and make the most of our mass media communication as well as look at how we might become a more welcoming church. Central to our strategy will be to make sure that all four religious communities are based in Vanuatu within the next ten years to contribute to the evangelism ministry there.

It was proposed that a range of strategies within COM organizations needed to be used. Dioceses will be asked to co-ordinate religious communityís mission activities but without stifling initiative and there will need to be increased financial support for evangelism activities in and by the dioceses. Refresher courses will be run for clergy and laity in evangelism for our clergies. To make sure this happens we will need regular monitoring and evaluation of our programs.

Leadership support will be essential if evangelism is to be effective. To make sure that newly developed materials are used and the curriculum is owned, consultation will occur with the dioceses and relevant institutions. The Melanesian Board of Mission will be responsible for production of some relevant, simple, evangelism materials. BPTC and Talua, as the key educators of COM clergy will be asked to include evangelism in its curriculum. Partnerships and ecumenical strategies will be needed and MBM will be given responsibility to advocate for the commemoration of evangelism, fathers, mothers, children and family days in the lectionary. Finally, to assess the implementation of the recommendations, a review of the consultation will happen after 2 years and there will be re-activation of the Evangelism Commission in 2008. The evangelism participants have committed themselves to making sure this happens.