World church leaders to look at response to global crises

By staff writers
September 17, 2008

As the world is rocked by financial and other crises, the World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee will meet in Lübeck, Germany on 23-26 September 2008 to look at responses from faith communities.

The global food problem (which threatens millions of the poorest people), the conflict in Darfur, health issues, and the situation in Sri Lanka are some of those about which public statements and other actions will be considered.

The committee will assess the progress done in shaping a new form of WCC assembly, review WCC programme plans and budget and appoint an acting general secretary for 2009.

The meeting of the 25-member governing body will be preceded by a two-day exposure visit to three Lutheran and united churches in the region which are in a merger process.

The programme includes visits to congregations and diaconal agencies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg, the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Pomeranian Evangelical Church as well as to the Association of Protestant Churches and Missions in Germany.

The appointment of an acting general secretary for 2009 follows the decision of the current WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, who announced at a 13-20 February meeting of the WCC central committee that he would not seek an extension to his term, which ends 31 December 2008. The central committee will elect a new general secretary at its next meeting in September 2009.

As the United Nations mark this year the 30th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration on "health for all" and the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the WCC executive committee will consider public statements on these topics.

The committee will receive a report of a study on genocide commissioned by the WCC central committee in relation with the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. A public statement on the situation in Sri Lanka will be considered.

In addition to issues of membership, finances and programmes, a report on the ongoing discussions regarding an "expanded assembly" will be on the committee's agenda, as well as the need for undertaking a review of the current WCC constitution and rules.

The executive committee meets twice a year and deals with matters specifically referred to it by the central committee. It appoints WCC programme staff, monitors ongoing work, and supervises the budget approved by the central committee.

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