Thursday, February 23, 2006

World Council of Churches Concludes Its 9th Assembly On Note of Doing Less, But Doing It Well

Today saw the wrap up of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. Here are a couple of pieces taken directly from the Assembly web site.

The Assembly is over! Today, most of the 691 delegates from the WCC’s 348 member churches and other participants have already left Porto Alegre. With them, along with papers and multimedia files, they take memories of an intense period of encounter, prayer, and celebration - in morning and evening worship, 90 Bible study groups, and in the 200 workshops and other events making up the Assembly’s parallel mutirĂ£o. On another level, the in-depth work done by the Assembly on themes and issues, structures and relationships is likely to impact the WCC fellowship and the wider ecumenical movement for a long time to come.

The World Council of Churches Assembly programme guidelines committee has established four main areas of engagement for the life and work of the organization until the next Assembly: unity, spirituality and mission; ecumenical formation; global justice; and public voice and prophetic witness to the world. Delegates at the 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, affirmed these four areas on Thursday 23 Feb.

The central committee mantra of "Do less, do it well" noted earlier by the finance committee was echoed in the programme guidelines. "It is important for us to keep that in mind," Bishop Anders Wejryd, a delegate from the Church of Sweden, said during discussion of the recommendations. "We so easily wish for so much".

Specific actions named in the engagement areas include holding an international Ecumenical Peace Convocation to mark the conclusion of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), undertaking an expanded follow-up of the AGAPE economic justice process, and addressing the "sharp ecclesiological questions" raised in the report of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC.

The report challenges the WCC to be "a strong, credible ethical voice" in the world. It underlines the importance of communications to member churches and to the broader world, doing so "in a timely and imaginative way".


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