THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES 11th Assembly began in the German city of Karlsruhe on 31 August, bringing together delegates and participants from around the world from many Christian traditions and backgrounds. Its overarching theme is “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”
The focus of the Assembly will be on seeking a way through the divisions and threats which face not only the churches, but the planet and humanity as a whole.
Dr Agnes Abuom, Moderator of the WCC central committee since 2013, started the session by calling for a minute of silence to pay tribute to the late Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, who died on 1 June while he was Vice Moderator of the committee.
“It was 74 years ago this very month – in August — that the World Council of Churches was constituted and established,” said WCC acting general secretary, the Rev Professor Dr Ioan Sauca, reminding delegates and participants of the council’s long history.
The WCC was one of the global institutions formed in the aftermath of the Second World War, with a commitment to seeking peace with justice for the world, as well as unity among the churches and dialogue and cooperation among the religions.
The last WCC assembly was held in Busan, South Korea, in 2013. Of the 352 WCC member churches, 295 are attending the Karlsruhe gathering.
Dr Abuom, an Anglican from Kenya, welcomed seven new member churches to the WCC. The moderator said there were also 11 special guests from Ukraine.
“Absolutely fundamental to the WCC and the ecumenical movement are relationships”, said Abuom. “That’s what makes experiences like the assembly so precious and formative. We encounter one another – in all our uniqueness – and recognise a neighbour in the stranger, unity in the midst of our diversity.”
Bishop Mary Anne Swenson, vice moderator of the central committee, said, “None of us anticipated Covid and the need to postpone this assembly and change so much from in-person to online. It was challenging.
“Above all, we were reminded that nothing – not death nor life, nor things present, nor those to come, not even Covid, nothing can separate us from God’s love.”
Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște, of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Vice Moderator of the central committee, moderated a session in which the assembly approved assembly committees and thematic plenary moderators.