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'Children of God Can Come Together'

Wednesday October 19 2022

The 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches was held in Karlsruhe, Germany in September under the theme: "Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity". 

 

Dr Agnes Abuom, an Anglican from Kenya, moderated the Assembly - the first woman and the first African to do so in the WCC’s history. In her opening remarks, she emphasised something which is key to working together across countries and continents:

"Absolutely fundamental to the WCC and the ecumenical movement are relationships… We encounter one another – in all our uniqueness – and recognise a neighbour in the stranger, unity in the midst of our diversity."

In everyone we encountered in the days in Karlsruhe, the same sentiment was expressed in one way or another, of the importance of people meeting, talking, worshipping, networking, coming together face to face to meet in formal ways, but also to talk about issues which are sometimes difficult, and sometimes not possible to discuss remotely, where there is a need for human interaction, of a sympathetic look, or touch, or word, where anger can evolve into mutual understanding.

Dr Aboum told the gathered delegates that when the WCC had met in Kenya in 1975, she had been a steward and that had propelled her on an ecumenical formation and journey culminating in being President of the WCC and Moderator of the WCC Assembly in Karlsruhe. It would have been good to have some young people from the Church of Scotland involved in the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) programme prior to the Assembly, the Youth Pre-Assembly meetings, or working as Stewards with the hundreds of other young people from around the world church.

 

It was the first WCC assembly to receive official environmental certification, a step the organisers hoped will support member churches in stepping up their own action on ecological standards. “If we don't change our behaviour, in 50 years our planet will be uninhabitable,” said the WCC acting general secretary, the Rev Prof Dr Ioan Sauca. Care for creation, conflict in Ukraine, justice for Palestine and the question of Israel practising apartheid, economic injustice, and discrimination were some of the big issues the assembly wrestled with. The challenges were clear, but it was important to show how children of God can come together to tackle important questions, and disagree about them, while staying in relationship through Christ.

 

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