“The World Council of Churches is not just an organisation in Geneva. We are the WCC” was the sentiment expressed by Indonesian WCC member churches at a seminar in Bali recently.
The swiftly changing ecumenical landscape and the need to maintain good communications prompted the meeting at which representatives of Indonesian member churches and regional partners came together with WCC staff to reflect, discuss, share and celebrate.
Church leaders from 22 WCC member churches in Indonesia and East Timor were present along with representatives from the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI). Funding for the meeting was an exercise in sharing as accommodations were offered by Protestant Christian Church in Bali (GBKP) and travel and meeting costs were shared among the participants with special additional sponsorship from Kerk in Actie.
The seminar started with fellowship and celebration at the 80th anniversary of the GBKP. Participants travelled to the Christian village of Blimbingsari for the anniversary worship service and public celebrations, including traditional Balinese dance and drum performances.
The remainder of the programme took place in Dhyana Pura and focused on key concerns identified by the group. Reflection and analysis of past ways of inter-relating were combined with creative brain-storming on ways to proceed more effectively in the future.
Church leaders spent time considering ways to creatively contribute to the work of the WCC above and beyond annual financial contributions, though they did emphasize the importance of this vital exercise in stewardship as a sign of continuing commitment.
The church representatives spoke of the challenges of staying ecumenically active on many different levels and emphasised the need to re-energise efforts and reaffirm partnerships to face future challenges together.
“Due to the changing ecumenical priorities, a constructive dialogue among member churches is crucial,” said Caroline Hennessy, WCC fund development officer. “And, as always, the WCC can learn and gain much from a meaningful exposure and sharing in partnership with every member church.”
“Annual ecumenical formation seminars for funding partners have proved effective in strengthening relationships and communications,” she said.
“This seminar involving new staff and leadership of WCC member churches is highly rewarding as an exercise in relationship, partnership and an essential communications tool. Hopefully it can be a model that will be replicated in other areas of the WCC.”
In a final statement produced at the end of the seminar, the churches proclaimed, “We renew our determination to return to the common commitment in the ecumenical movement as a form of reflection of church faith, to optimise the church response towards the problems being faced by the world today.”
The statement went on to say, “In relation to this we are determined to support programmes and services of the ecumenical bodies, global, regional and national (WCC, CCA, PGI), as ecumenical institutions which we ourselves helped shape.”
The seminar also provided an overview of the ecumenical movement in today’s world, reflecting on the specific role of the WCC and upcoming events, particularly the 10th Assembly of the WCC set for Busan, Korea in 2013.
The church leaders said they are “looking forward to a strong and positive participation” in the assembly in Korea.