Sharing in God's Mission: The Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela and The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States 1960-1980
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The Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV), an autonomous pentecostal denomination, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States, a Mainline Protestant denomination, established an ecumenical partnership in 1963 that remains a positive force today. These two denominations have articulated and reflected theologically on their praxis by developing missio Dei and Koinonia as strategies of mission that direct this praxis toward consistency and coherence while shaping and clarifying their identity and mission. The relationship between these two very different denominations is a unique experiment in ecumenical sharing that has proven the effectiveness of this model of partnership based on mutual respect and trust, the sharing of human, educational, financial, spiritual and theological resources for an ongoing partnership in God's mission. The theoretical framework of this dissertation is based on the biblical-theological and missiological concepts of missio Dei and koinonia. The writer traces the evolution and usage of these two concepts and their influence on ecumenical missionary theology, particularly that of the Disciples of Christ. The main objective of this dissertation is to show both the challenges and long-term success of this example of sharing in God's mission and thus to elaborate a consistent and solid argument for this model of church work. The scope of this dissertation focuses on two decades, 1960-1980, but it also touches on circumstances before the official relationship started in 1963 as well as further developments beyond the two decades. A main focus of this discussion is the theological reflection that directs and sustains these mission strategies. An extensive analysis of official documents, letters, and interviews provides some of the key questions arising within these two denominations that allow the writer to present an in-depth evaluation of this particular partnership.