|Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford|
|World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit|
The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) begins at the end of October and promises to be one of the most diverse gathering of Christians in the world. The assembly will be an opportunity for renewing the worldwide ecumenical movement--infusing it with honesty, humility, and hope, according to the WCC general secretary.
As to why this is the case, Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary and a Lutheran pastor from the Church of Norway, says it is “through humility, honesty, and hope that we can live together as humanity and a church in a world, where justice and peace are fundamental initiatives and not merely words.”
The theme of the WCC assembly is a prayer: “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” The assembly will take place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea). It will bring around 3,000 participants from Asia, Pacific, Africa, Europe, Middle East, North America, and Latin America, including a large number of young people and several thousand Korean Christians.
In the assembly, Tveit finds the foundation of his hopes in the legacy of the WCC, which began in 1948 and has continued during the past 65 years. The member churches, Tveit says, will be harvesting fruits of the work of the WCC since the last WCC assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006, while setting directions for a new ecumenical vision for the future. There are 345 member churches in the WCC and all but a few will be represented at the assembly.
Tveit expects the WCC assembly to be an opportunity of learning. “Churches will engage in open and accountable conversations,” he said, about issues important to the church today such as mission and evangelism, faith and order, justice, peace, and unity. This dialogue is significant for the WCC assembly as “justice and peace imply effectively addressing core values of the kingdom of God, the will of God, the creator,” he says.
The proposal made by the outgoing WCC Central Committee that the assembly initiates a pilgrimage of justice and peace can unite Christians in a unique way, according to Tveit. This aspect, he says, also is echoed in the call from Pope Francis in which he has proclaimed that the church is here to serve, for justice and peace.
“This call makes us look beyond our boundaries and limitations journeying towards being a church together. The assembly will bring a realization of what we have received. But, we are not finished with our tasks and we have to continue our work and prayers for Christian unity.”
The WCC assembly will feature varied spiritual expressions from churches around the world. The participants will share these reflections of Christian unity through worship, Bible study, and prayer.
Having the assembly in South Korea is significant, Tveit says. “The assembly will be a place for the global fellowship of the churches to express solidarity with the Korean churches, which have suffered separations and had been calling for the reunification of the divided Korean peninsula,” he said.
Simultaneously, Asia being one of the areas of rising economies in the world, Tveit sees a great potential for the assembly to provide a critical and hopeful voice in the reality of globalization and a development paradigm that needs to change to be just and sustainable. “The WCC assembly for the churches is a place to strengthen a deeper understanding of the Asian contexts through sharing, caring, and dialogue,” he said.
“Praying that this is an assembly where we all meet the God of life, we also look forward to move forward together in a pilgrimage for justice and peace,” he concluded.
The first WCC Assembly took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1948. Since then assemblies have been in held in Evanston, in the United States, in 1954; New Delhi, India, in 1961; Uppsala, Sweden, in 1968; Nairobi, Kenya, in 1975; Vancouver, Canada, in 1983; Canberra, Australia, in 1991; Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998; and Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006.
Find out more at the website of the WCC 10th Assembly: http://wcc2013.info/en.
Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline