The Edinburgh Conference of 1910 produced a strong unified voice around the notion of World Evangelisation. This was fostered for several decades by the International Missionary Council that grew out of that gathering. In 1948 the World Council of Churches was formed in Amsterdam, into which the International Missionary Council was absorbed. In the years that followed the Second World War and the independence of many African countries from former colonies, socio-political issues assailed the World Council of Churches’ agenda and proclamation evangelism as the central dimension of mission became largely obscured.
Billy Graham, concerned about the recession of this fundamental apostolic commission, convened the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966 to reassert the recovery of this crucial task. Michael Cassidy was invited to give a paper at the congress with a contextual reflection on Nationalism as an Obstacle to Evangelism. This caused a stir in the conference, most particularly with the attending members from the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. Michael left with two strong impulses. Firstly, to convene a national conference on Mission and Evangelism back home in South Africa and secondly, to try to ensure that contextual issues be tackled where they affect the credibility of the Gospel proclamation.