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Sandy (standing, front, just left of centre) with other delegates at a workshop on the Korea Peace Appeal
Sandy (standing, front, just left of centre) with other delegates at a workshop on the Korea Peace Appeal

'You Could Feel the Energy Rising'

Wednesday October 26 2022

Continuing our series of reflections from the WCC Assembly last month, Sandy Sneddon of the Church of Scotland's Faith Action Team revelled in meeting people face-to-face, and in the prominent part played by Kirk colleagues.

After 2½ years of Covid, the 11th World Council of Churches Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany was a great opportunity to meet colleagues from partner churches and organisations from around the world.

After 30 months of Zoom fatigue it was a joy to meet so many colleagues, you could feel the energy rising.

This wasn’t just about taking selfies and catching up, it was a chance to have conversations that sparked off ideas and prompted all sorts of follow-up questions and conversations that sometimes went off at a tangent. In other words, it was like what life was like before lockdown.

Over the summer my remit in the Faith Action Team has expanded and I really valued the chance to connect with people from partner churches in areas that are new to me. It's so much easier now to write emails when we have already met in person.

It was heartening to see a number of Church of Scotland colleagues being valued for their contributions to this vast gathering.

Iain McLarty was part of the WCC worship group which had prepared theme specific worship for each day of the Assembly. So many people told me how they appreciated Iain’s gifts in leading worship.

Mission partners Ken Ross and Fiona Kendall were also there, Fiona for Mediterranean Hope and Ken with the Commission for World Mission and Evangelism.

Carol Finlay was invited by the WCC to present in a workshop on HIV to highlight the Church of Scotland HIV Programme and the resource of Souper Sunday as she sits on the WCC HIV Strategy group. For years Carol has been a passionate advocate for People Living With HIV and AIDS.

What now? There are statements and reports to be digested, conversations to follow-up and to assimilate so many useful resources into our own work in Scotland and with our international partners.

In this season of change and uncertainty in the Church of Scotland it is too easy to circle our ecclesiastical wagons and focus on our own problems. Is the Spirit calling us to be open to the experiences and insights of our sisters and brothers around the world? What can we learn where churches are under pressure?

The theme of the Assembly was "Christ's love moves the world to reconciliation and unity". The Church of Scotland, its ministers, elders and members, can surely join with this and play our part.

Sandy Sneddon is Associate International Partnership Support Manager in the Faith Action Team of the Church of Scotland.