Christian Pneumatology in Global Perspective: Mission as Joining in with the Spirit

Submitting Institution

Leeds Trinity University

Unit of Assessment

Theology and Religious Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

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Summary of the impact

Kim's research has had significant impact on global discourse on theology of mission across the world's churches mainly through the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Edinburgh 2010 project. In particular her research helped to establish the pneumatological framework for mission theology evident in the Common Call of Edinburgh 2010 (6 June 2010) and the new World Council of Churches' statement on mission and evangelism, Together Towards Life (5 September 2012), which may be summarised as `finding out where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining in'.

Underpinning research

Professor Kirsteen Kim has been employed at Leeds Trinity since January 2008 as Associate Senior Lecturer (January 2008 — August 2010), Associate Principal Lecturer (September 2010 —) and Professor of Theology and World Christianity (April 2011 —). Her main field of research is Christian pneumatology in global perspective. While employed at Leeds Trinity, Kim re-oriented her previous research on `mission pneumatology' (Mission in the Spirit, 2003; The Holy Spirit in the World, 2007) toward the implications for theology of mission of the wider mission of the Spirit in the whole creation and of the context of world Christianity (Kim & Kim, Christianity as a World Religion, 2008). Joining in with the Spirit: Connecting World Church and Local Mission (2009) drew on insights from the wide variety of Christian churches worldwide to present a pneumatological paradigm and framework for understanding mission in the twenty-first century. The book demonstrated how much contemporary British mission practice and mission studies owe to interaction with theologies from other global regions, encouraging `global conversation' across the many ecclesial and theological differences between churches. At the same time it re-expressed missio Dei in a pneumatological paradigm: `finding out where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining in' — and set all the main themes of the study of mission within a pneumatological framework. On the basis that, for Christians, the Spirit is both the Spirit of Creation and also the Spirit of Christ, Kim outlined a model of ecumenical collaboration in mission that both affirms the Spirit at work in creation, cultures and persons of many faiths and none and is, at the same time, discerning of the many spirits abroad and questioning of certain mission practices, alliances and theologies. On the strength of her scholarship and reputation for effectiveness in international church circles, Kim was invited to coordinate the research for the Edinburgh 2010 project (E2010) from her base at Leeds Trinity, which she did from January 2009 to March 2011. The E2010 marked the centenary of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910 and was based at the University of Edinburgh. Kim co-edited the reports of the nine international and inter-confessional study groups as Witnessing to Christ Today (Balia & Kim, 2010), which was the raw material for the deliberations of the conference at the University of Edinburgh in June 2010. In invited articles, Kim also analysed a century of mission theology and identified major shifts. To give two examples: `Mission Theology of the Church' (2010) outlined a dynamic and global approach to ecclesiology, based on the movement of the Spirit, which recognises that churches are not only settled and boundaried but also migrating and in mission. `Edinburgh 1910 to 2010: From Kingdom to Spirit' (2010) explained the contemporary prevalence of pneumatological language over against the predominant kingdom metaphor in 1910 as reflecting the different world order in 2010. It further suggested that contemporary discourse of the Spirit could nevertheless mask continuing colonial attitudes. To address this issue, she insisted that the Spirit, as the Spirit of Christ, does not inspire domination but `free and mutual [global] relations'.

References to the research

• Kirsteen Kim, Joining in with the Spirit: Connecting World Church and Local Mission (Peterborough: Epworth, 2009; republished by SCM Press in 2012).


Leading mission theologians reviewed it very positively, for example Prof. Kenneth Cracknell of Brite Divinity School described it in Theology (114/2 (2011) 139-140) as a `deeply impressive book'; Prof. Stephen B. Bevans, SVD of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago described the author as `one of the most important European missiologists today' (International Bulletin of Missionary Research 35/1, 46).

• Kirsteen Kim, `Mission Theology of the Church', International Review of Mission 99/1 (2010), 39-55.


Listed as the `most read' article of the International Review of Mission.

• Kirsteen Kim, `Edinburgh 1910 to 2010: From Kingdom to Spirit', Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association 30/2 (2010), 3-20.

Described by the editor, Prof. William Kay, Bangor University, as `excellent' and `important'.

• Daryl Balia and Kirsteen Kim (eds), Edinburgh 2010: Witnessing to Christ Today (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 2010).

Witnessing to Christ Today includes the combined reports of the research on the nine study themes of the Edinburgh 2010 research project, which was based at the University of Edinburgh. It was the raw material for the conference in Edinburgh in June 2010. As the core text for the centenary project, this book informs all the subsequent reflection on the project and on mission theology from 1910 to 2010 in the churches worldwide. This includes the 25-volume Edinburgh 2010 Centenary Series (Oxford: Regnum Books International), of which Kim is a Series Editor (

Details of the impact

Kim's research articulating mission as `finding out where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining in' has been fed into the churches worldwide through her leading role in two major church-sponsored activities: the Edinburgh 2010 project and the World Council of Churches' Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. Both produced statements on theology of mission which were substantially shaped by Kim and significantly influenced by her research. These are having very considerable impact on the mission theology and practice of churches and Christian organisations globally.

Edinburgh 2010

From January 2009 to March 2011, Kim was employed as Research Coordinator of the Edinburgh 2010 project (E2010), by invitation of the Executive Committee. E2010 was the centenary project of the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910. This event had been highly significant both for the ecumenical movement and also for world mission (Stanley, The World Missionary Conference, Eerdmans, 2009, 5-7). Its centenary attracted global and pan-ecclesial interest. E2010 was sponsored and governed by a Council of mostly global bodies including World Council of Churches, Roman Catholic Church, World Evangelical Alliance, and representatives of Orthodox, Pentecostal and Indigenous churches. With the support of the Study Process Monitoring Group (SPMG), Kim put her pneumatologically-informed approach of `global conversation' into practice by leading a `poly-centric' process which brought together research from roughly 20 university research institutes, 22 theological institutions, 18 academic networks and 22 church and mission organisations. Researchers and research groups were based in all continents and in many different countries, including, Australia, Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia, Canada, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Ghana, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. Kim edited the collaborative reports on nine main themes to produce the preparatory volume for the E2010 conference (Balia and Kim 2010).

The conference was held at the University of Edinburgh on 2-6 June 2010. The 300 invited delegates at the conference were chiefly leading representatives of the church and mission bodies who sponsored the project. Speakers and delegates interacted with the reports and aimed to crystalize their implications for action in the churches. The conference provided an opportunity for Kim to test whether her approach of `finding out where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining in with the Spirit' captured contemporary mission theology. During the conference, she drafted the Common Call of the conference, which is a condensed statement of the main affirmations of the different study groups and the only unified output from the process. It was discussed constructively in plenary, approved by representatives of each of the main church bodies of the Council and affirmed in worship at the closing service. The Call reflects the theme of Joining in with the Spirit (Kim 2009/2012) in that it defines mission (opening paragraph) as `sharing in God's mission of love though the transforming power of the Holy Spirit'. Moreover, pneumatology is used to justify an affirming mission that extends to the whole creation, diverse peoples and cultures, involving unity, healing, gifts, sharing and empowerment, and at the same time includes discernment in the form of truth-telling and power encounter.

For sheer variety of denominations and nationalities, Edinburgh 2010 was hailed as a `watershed moment... the first time in almost 100 years that the Christian family has met together like this' (Archbishop John Sentamu, Anglican, York). The Common Call stands as an inclusive statement of the intention of the churches to witness to Christ together (Archbishop Mario Conti, RC, Glasgow). It was disseminated to the churches through the sponsoring bodies and has been translated into at least 10 other languages. It was immediately taken up by the world Christian press (e.g. Christian Post, Ecumenical News, Catholic World News) as a renewed commitment to mission. The archives of E2010 are held in the University of Edinburgh and will doubtless be revisited on future anniversaries.

World Council of Churches

From 2007 to 2013, Kim served on the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches (WCC). During this time she chaired the drafting committee for the main work of CWME: a new position statement on mission and evangelism for the WCC. The WCC brings together 349 national churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world ( It represents over 560 million Orthodox and Protestant Christians. It has a formal working relationship with the Roman Catholic Church and growing collaboration with Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. The drafting committee for the new statement was tasked with bringing together the findings of the mission conference in Athens 2005 (; at which Kim was an advisor and a plenary speaker), the Edinburgh 2010 project and some other WCC-related work. The only previous WCC position statement on mission and evangelism was adopted in 1982. It used a christological framework and the motif of the kingdom of God predominated. In her role as chair, Kim was mandated to bring her expertise in theology of the Holy Spirit to bear to develop a pneumatological perspective in the new statement.

The drafting of Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes began at the Commission meeting in Bangalore in October 2008 and was continued by working groups and through a series of drafting group meetings until March 2012. By invitation of the working groups, Kim gave direct input from her research to three of the four main sections of the document - mission and pneumatology (Joining in with the Spirit, chapter 2; meeting in Manila, July 2011), church and mission (chapter 10; Switzerland, May 2011), and mission spirituality (chapter 9; Jamaica, May 2011). Furthermore, together with the Moderator of the Commission, Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilose and the Commission Secretary, Revd Dr Jooeop Keum, she finalised the introduction and conclusion. Kim chaired all the drafting committee meetings and checked all the drafts up to the final one. In this way she ensured that, in keeping with her research: (1) the whole document was cast in an explicitly pneumatologically defined framework; (2) `joining in with the Spirit' was the overriding theme (the phrase itself occurs in concluding para. 110); (3) the reference to `spirit' was plural as well as singular; (4) the ecclesiology section was missional; (5) the approach of affirming and discerning of spirits was clearly expressed (especially the section on `Spiritual gifts and discernment', paras 24-28).

In March 2012, Kim presented the draft statement to the WCC conference on mission and evangelism in Manila, where approximately 250 invited representatives from church and mission organisations studied and commented on it. On 30 August 2012, she presented a revised version to the Central Committee of the WCC at their meeting in Crete, where it was adopted as an official WCC statement on Christian witness. Since it addresses the second of the three main foci of the work of the WCC (unity, witness and service), this statement will play a key role in re-defining WCC policy at the General Assembly in Busan, Korea in November 2013 (, and determining its activities in the next eight-year term and beyond. The CWME Moderator will present the new document to the General Assembly of about 4000 church representatives as the centre-piece of the plenary session on mission on 5 November 2013 in Busan, Korea. (Kim will moderate this session and is helping to prepare it). It is being actively disseminated globally and ecumenically at a church level, for example by a Practical Guide to prepare delegates to the Assembly. It has already been the subject of many discussions, including a consultation with the Roman Catholic Church and the basis of a European Ecumenical Study Course (see WCC website press reports). After the Assembly, Together Towards Life will be the foundation for the deliberations, outputs and actions of the new CWME. Like the 1982 statement, which endured for 30 years, the new document will be the key point of reference for anyone wanting to know and engage with the WCC approach to mission and evangelism. It is likely to be required study for training of church workers and education of clergy in mission.

Through her central roles as research coordinator of the Edinburgh 2010 project and her leadership in drafting and presenting the new World Council of Churches statement on mission and evangelism, Kim's research on Christian pneumatology in global perspective has directly and significantly impacted the mission policy of the World Council of Churches and the conduct of mission in WCC-related churches and in other churches worldwide. In particular, her proposal that mission should be understood as `joining in with the Spirit' and her approach of discerning the spirits in mission are imprinted in documents that are being studied in theological education as authoritative statements and are being used in decision-making in churches at local and global levels.

Sources to corroborate the impact