Saturday, November 9, 2013

WCC Assembly ends

Two Important Statements
Unity Statement

     The Assembly ended today.  Among the documentation of the Assembly that will be important as the WCC goes forward during the next 7 years were the issuances of the Unity statement and its closing message.
     WCC Unity Statement

Message to the Churches

     The second was the message to the churches.
Join the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78-79
Dear Sisters and Brothers, we greet you in the name of Christ.
     1. We gathered in the Republic of Korea at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (30 October – 8 November 2013). Coming from 345 member churches of the fellowship and from partner organizations in the ecumenical movement, we joined in prayer, shared stories from our local communities and took to heart strong messages of agony and hope. We are thankful for the many engaging statements released. Our common pilgrimage traced the theme “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”
     2. In the city of Busan, we journeyed together on a road of transformation – we pray that as we are being transformed ourselves, God will make us instruments of peace. Many of us travelled to other parts of Korea where we witnessed the open wounds of a society torn by conflict and division. How necessary is justice for peace; reconciliation for healing; and a change of heart for the world to be made whole! We were encouraged by the active and committed churches we encountered; their work bears bountiful fruit.
     3. We share our experience of the search for unity in Korea as a sign of hope in the world. This is not the only land where people live divided, in poverty and richness, happiness and violence, welfare and war. We are not allowed to close our eyes to harsh realities or to rest our hands from God’s transforming work. As a fellowship, the World Council of Churches stands in solidarity with the people and the churches in the Korean peninsula, and with all who strive for justice and peace.
     4. God our Creator is the source of all life. In the love of Jesus Christ and by the mercy of the Holy Spirit we, as a communion of the children of God, move together towards the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Seeking grace from God we are called, in our diversity, to be just stewards of God’s Creation. This is the vision of the New Heaven and Earth, where Christ will “fill all in all” (Eph 1.23).
     5  We live in a time of global crises. Economic, ecological, socio-political and spiritual challenges confront us. In darkness and in the shadow of death, in suffering and persecution, how precious is the gift of hope from the Risen Lord! By the flame of the Spirit in our hearts, we pray to Christ to brighten the world: for his light to turn our whole beings to caring for the whole of creation and to affirm that all people are created in God’s image. Listening to voices that often come from the margins, let us all share lessons of hope and perseverance. Let us recommit ourselves to work for liberation and to act in solidarity. May the illuminating Word of God guide us on our journey.
     6. We intend to move together. Challenged by our experiences in Busan, we challenge all people of good will to engage their God-given gifts in transforming actions.

This Assembly calls you to join us in pilgrimage.

May the churches be communities of healing and compassion, and may we seed the Good News so that justice will grow and God’s deep peace rest on the world.

Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!
Psalm 106:3

God of life, lead us to justice and peace!

Nota: Dissenting opinions: Archimandrite Jack Khalil of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East wished to register his dissent to the use of the word “transformation” in two places in the message, on the theological ground that as Christians our transformation is already completed in our baptism. Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta wished to register his dissent to the phrase “all people are created”, having prefered it to say “were created”.

First woman moderation of the Central Committee

     The newly installed 150-member committee made history Friday by unanimously electing Dr Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, as the moderator of the highest WCC governing body.
      Two vice-moderators were elected, United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the USA and Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

“My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” Abuom said shortly after her election, “…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”
     Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya. Her areas of work include economic justice, peace and reconciliation.

Foot washing as a symbol of going forward as pilgrims
     The closing ritual if the Assembly included footwashing.
How do we follow? Follow the narrow path, the rugged path, the unpopular, sometimes lonely path, the path of the cross. With a humble spirit, we will follow.

Washing of the feet -- a Biblical sysmbol
     Old Testament references (Gen 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; 1 Sam 25:41; 2 Sam 11:8; Ps 58:10) show that the washing of the feet was the first act on entering the tent or house after a journey. The biblical people wore sandals, and this washing was refreshing as well as cleansing. In the case of ordinary people, the host furnished the water and the guests washed their own feet, but in the richer houses, a slave washed their feet. It was looked upon as the lowliest of all tasks. On the last evening of his earthly life, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).
     Jesus’ act of washing the feet of his disciples has revolutionary potential, for it redefines the meaning of power and authority and questions the structures associated with them. True authority is nothing less than the exercise of diakonia, the praxis of love in the perspective of the new world God is promising to us.

L: We worship the Father of Light, and his only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence.
L: She came to Jesus, unnamed, uninvited, but unafraid.
C: And she poured out her gratitude.
L: She gave her costly gift, embalmed him with her tears, for she alone could see where his path would lead.
C: And she poured out her grief.
L: We come to Jesus, invited to walk his Way, enabled to pour out our lives
C: in service of God’s Reign, as we come to worship.

* * * * * *
     I arrived back in Rome at 9:00 PM.  It was a long trip of over 15 hours.  In the next days I want to share some of the side activities that took place at the Madang as well as some photos of the Assembly.  

     Oh yes, I forgot to mention that soon after the Halloween decorataions came down on the 2nd of November, look what appeared not only in the restaurant but in the department stores!

Peace and all good.

No comments:

Post a Comment