Welcome to Edinburgh 2010!

I’m imagining that the regular passengers getting off the train this afternoon in Waverley station exhibited a greater degree of ethnic diversity than did the delegates to the world mission conference of Edinburgh 1910. The arrival of the ‘great and the good’ of the global mission community arriving in Edinburgh this week will certainly bring diversity and colour to this week’s World Mission Conference meeting at the Pollock Halls of the University of Edinburgh.

But, the welcome’s not been all that it should have been. One of the contributor’s to the Study Theme I will moderate (‘Mission and Unity: Mission and Ecclesiology’) was refused a visa by the British Consulate in Kinshasa. He had been officially invited, was a listed contributor, is a theological educator, and a member of Roman Catholic missionary order. he was denied the visa because he couldn’t show that he had enough funds in a bank account for the duration of his stay. Apparently, British authorities now expect visiting members of religious orders who have taken a vow of chastity and poverty to have a bank account (and a stock of condoms?) just in case!  This despite the fact that the conference organisers had guaranteed all expenses whilst he would be in Scotland.

The first welcome I got was from a Hungarian colleague, already installed in his ‘student apartment’ (students have it a lot easier than I did when I was an undergraduate!). He texted me whilst I was still on the train from Gloucester. He’s a pretty nifty mission historian and will be here, doubtless reflecting on the failure of the conference in 1910 to consider Europe a mission field. Thankfully we don’t need anybody’s permission to discuss it in those terms here in 2010 – I suspect that Archbishop Rowan’s probably a bit grateful for the help that the Church of England receives from its ecumenical sisters and brothers.

So, Europe is officially on the mission map (see the excellent Atlas of World Christianity) and missionaries are most welcome here! Can somebody now please bring the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office up to date?

Explore posts in the same categories: Edinburgh 2010, europe, mission

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