FOLLOWING the recent World Council of Churches (WCC) 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany, the WCC communications team asked journalists and media outlets who were present in person or online, including Ekklesia, to comment on how media worked for this ecumenical global gathering.
Dr Corina Meuhlstedt, a well-known German radio journalist, described what it was like to tell the stories of the Assembly. “The positive atmosphere was my biggest takeaway form the assembly,” she said. “I felt that Christians of very different denominations, some who even live in countries in conflict, were able to overcome prejudice and hostility – at least for a certain time – by seeing Christ in the other.”
For Meuhlstedt, who attended the assembly in person, the word “reconciliation” – part of the assembly theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity” – resonated. “I think this what the world needs today, and what Christianity can propose to resolve the recent conflicts”, she said, “so whatever was connected with this was interesting for me.”
For Daniela Rei Visan of the Radio Romania Cultural, the assembly was an opportunity to tell stories of recovering hope, a sense of belonging to a community, and a new direction in our life. “Even though I was not able to be in Karlsruhe in person, I could feel the atmosphere and followed most of the events due to the hybrid system”, she said. “I was happy to learn about health and healing from a Christian perspective, to judge the individual health and healing in a global, social process.”
Simon Barrow, director of Ekklesia, pointed out that telling the stories of the assembly illustrated how we cannot separate the task of seeking unity in the church from seeking justice and peace in the affairs of humankind.
“The overall theme, and numerous moments of illumination in the assembly, illustrated just how vital ecumenism is, as well as the programmatic work enabled and supported by the World Council of Churches”, he said.
Journalists who covered the WCC 11th Assembly received breaking news and connections to interviews from an onsite press centre and an online press centre open daily from 7:30am to 10 pm. WCC Communications hosted more than 18 media events during the assembly with daily media orientations at 8:15am and 4:15pm, and daily press conferences at 11:15am plus thematic press briefings in the late afternoons, all livestreamed in four languages.
“Media is very important to the ecumenical movement now and in the past, as they are conveying information through their storytelling”, said Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of Communication. “Media has always been very present at each assembly—for example, more than 700 media operatives covered the 4th WCC Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1968. In Karlsruhe, Germany, at least 360 media were accredited but many more were able to follow the setup online across the globe.”
We are living in a time when the world needs – and even demands – that churches, media and communicators use their prophetic voices. “Know something that people want to know about, say something that people have an interest in understanding – most important, be authentic, transparent, inspiring—and be fair and bring hope,” said Ejdersten.
* WCC 11th Assembly resources can be found here.