Lausanne Movement names Michael Cassidy new honorary chair

Michael Cassidy addressing the Lausanne 2010 Conference in Cape Town.

The Lausanne Movement Board of Directors has unanimously approved the appointment of South African Dr Michael Cassidy as Honorary Chair of the Movement. In a press statement released today, Lausanne Movement Executive Chairman Doug Birdsall says Cassidy embodies the “spirit of Lausanne” and, “is a global statesman and advocate for reconciliation and for Christian unity, while at the same time a persuasive evangelist who has been used on every continent for the cause of world evangelization.”

Cassidy, the founder of African Enterprise, expressed his deep gratitude at the appointment saying he was, “overwhelmed, deeply humbled, and profoundly honored.” Cassidy has been involved in evangelism, teaching, leadership and reconciliation ministry in South Africa, across the African continent, and around the world. As Honorary Chair, Cassidy succeeds Rev. Dr. John R.W. Stott who died July 2011 at the age of 89. Birdsall notes that as a young man Cassidy was mentored by both Rev. Dr. Stott and Rev. Billy Graham adding that, “God has shaped a man of great character and a leader of great stature – spiritually, intellectually, diplomatically, and physically. He is a visionary leader who sees beyond the horizons of his own time frame.”

Cassidy was part of the initial planning meeting for the First International Congress on World Evangelization (1974: Lausanne, Switzerland) and he believes that, “That Congress itself and the [resulting] Lausanne Covenant changed the nature of missionary and evangelistic playing fields in the world and introduced a wonderfully biblical, holistic philosophy and methodology of evangelism.” Cassidy calls The Lausanne Covenant a document that “could well stand as the major theological statement of mission in the history of the church.”

Cassidy was instrumental in making it possible for The Lausanne Movement to hold The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization: Cape Town 2010 in South Africa. He served on the Cape Town 2010 Advisory Council and as chair of the Mission Committee for the Congress. “Cape Town 2010 has already triggered so many new initiatives of evangelism on all sorts of fronts in multiple countries around the world“, Cassidy commented. He went on to say that, “The Cape Town Commitment, issued from Cape Town 2010, is a major statement to guide the worldwide Church in both its theology and its practice of evangelism and world mission. We pray it will have a significant theological impact on the church, and also guide many of the new strategies and mission impulses which are developing.”

As a Native South African, Cassidy has been widely involved in both visible and behind the scenes reconciliation and political change in the country. He developed the National Initiative for Reconciliation (1985) which brought together leaders of different Christian denominations and races for the purpose of reconciliation among themselves and their communities. He was one of the leaders of the historic National Conference of Church Leaders at Rustenburg (1990), and chaired the Consultation on Human Rights and Religious Freedom (1993). These and other activities have been broadly acknowledged as important contributions to the 1994 peaceful South African election. In 2008, he spearheaded the National Initiative for the Reformation of South Africa.

Michael has written numerous books, including A Witness For Ever: The Dawning of Democracy in South Africa; The Passing Summer: A South African’s Response to White Fear, Black Anger, and the Politics of Love; Chasing the Wind: Man’s Search for Life’s Answers; and most recently Getting to the Heart of Things: Reflections on Christian Basics. He has just completed the writing of The Church Jesus Prayed For, which will be published later this year. Cassidy says “this volume is a child of The Lausanne Movement, having been inspired by a Bible-study by Rev. Dr. John R.W. Stott in 1975 at the first Lausanne Continuation Committee meeting in Mexico City.”

In 1983 Michael was admitted to the Order of Simon of Cyrene, the highest honor accorded a layman by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. He and his wife, Carol, have three children and eight grandchildren.

Lausanne is a global movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. It grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, convened by Rev. Billy Graham and Bishop Jack Dain. The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (October 2010) brought together more than 4,000 Christian leaders, representing 198 countries. The resulting Cape Town Commitment serves as the blueprint for the Movement’s priorities.

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