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2020/5/12
“Working Together” Meeting Bonds WCC with Specialized Ministries

Participants expressed support to the WCC campaign for a world without rape and violence.

A series of online Working Together meetings last week helped strengthen collaboration between the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its round table partner and specialized ministries, including ACT Alliance. The meeting, which normally takes place every May at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute was convened online by WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca.

The meeting provided space for sharing how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the work of the churches and the mission and development agencies that support the programmatic work of the WCC. Sessions also focused on the participation of specialized ministries in the 11th WCC Assembly in 2021, with reports from members of the Assembly Planning Committee.


Participants describe benefits


Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice moderator of the WCC central committee, who was representing the United Methodist Church said the meeting was an excellent “first experiment” of gathering in this new reality in the midst of COVID-19. “There was much mutual sharing with a variety of leaders, good content for discussion and meaningful spiritual witness,” she said. “Breakout discussions for small groups were conducted effectively. I felt true community with the people in the meeting, even those I did not know. For me, the outcome was that we are actually ‘working together’ in the ecumenical fellowship even in an age of isolation due to pandemic.”


Patti Talbot, team leader of the Global Partnership Program and Northeast Asia Partnerships for The United Church of Canada, reflected on a few of the words that came to mind after attending four sessions – relationship, witness, stewardship and gratitude. “Yes, we are separated physically by this COVID-19 crisis,” said Talbot. "But we gathered together – online! -- a sign of our shared ecumenical commitment to be a reflection of God’s love and longing for creation, and all those who inhabit it.”


Jørgen Thomsen, senior advisor for International Ecumenical Cooperation, Religion & Development with Dan Church Aid, reflected on both the content and the format. “This year’s meetings were the best coordinated ever. This synergy is important for all of us who have, and wish to nurture, an integrated identity as both WCC specialized ministries and ACT Alliance members. We jointly hope to respond to the growing expectation for the role of faith actors in social change and transformation, including COVID-19 response.”


Rainer Kiefer, director of Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschland, said: “Thank you for a well-prepared agenda, the chance to discuss in smaller groups, and a friendly and competent chairing of the meeting.”


Kerstin Kollander, Special Assistant to the general secretary of the ACT Alliance and member of the WCC Assembly Planning Committee, said the meeting made clear the importance of a joint ACT member expression at the WCC Assembly, contributing to a new vision for the ecumenical movement. “In this time of the COVID-19 crisis, and a yet unknown new normal, we can only achieve a just and inclusive world for all people by combining the strengths of the unique roles of the ACT Alliance and the WCC,” said Kollander.


WCC reports on programmatic work

In his report during a session that reviewed WCC programmatic work, Sauca highlighted some of the important measures and initiatives of the WCC during the month of April 2020. “This month the World Council of Churches strongly focused on meeting the needs of the ecumenical fellowship in a time of pandemic, adjusting to the working demands of the new situation of social isolation and physical distancing, and advancing in innovative ways important programmatic initiatives by employing social and other digital media,” he said.


During April, the WCC made available the expertise of the COVID-19 Support Team, consisting of nine key medically trained and pastoral staff to advise the churches on measures they can take in reframing their gatherings, liturgies, programming, and pastoral care of those affected by the virus. Work has also continued assembly preparation through online meetings of assembly working groups.


Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary, outlined WCC programme highlights and plans for the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace during the rest of this year and during 2021. Phiri also reported on resourcing the ecumenical movement to strengthen creative ways of being the church, as well as discipleship, dialogue, and interreligious relations.


WCC director of finance Elaine Dykes presented the financial report 2019, audited, with CHF 29.7 million income, the first land sale transactions; and a net increase in funds and reserves for the year of CHF 0.74 million. An update on Green Village was shared.


WCC communication director Marianne Ejdersten offered programme highlights that showed how, with regard to our one human family, the WCC continues to have a sense of mutual accountability, while trying to share wisdom and hope to ease conflicts and fight oppression.

Ejdersten updated participants on the many facets of the WCC and their latest endeavors in 2019.


The WCC presented plans for 2021 that continue to amplify peace-building and human rights, combatting racism, and protecting children. Other focuses include capacity building for sustainable development, economic and ecological justice, and engaging young people. WCC work will also include advocacy for health and healing, resourcing churches for a future of interreligious cooperation, and deepening spiritual life through prayer and song.


A Thursdays in Black group photo taken via Zoom was shared with social media to support a world free from rape and violence.


“The challenges that the COVID-19 crisis presents to us are manifold, and indeed many of our communities are experiencing death, fear, isolation, and anxiety concerning the future,” said Sauca. “Yet we remain strong if we stay together in our fellowship of prayer and fraternal solidarity.”


Doug Chial, manager for Income Monitoring and Development at the WCC was thankful to the planning team that helped adjust to an online meeting. ”The first online ‘Working Together’ is a testimony to the faithful accompaniment of WCC specialized ministries and round table partners for the work of the fellowship of member churches,” he said.

“Working Together” online meeting will strengthen work of WCC with specialized ministries"-WCC press release 5 May 2020

WCC Annual Review 2019

Green Village

Source⇒ WCC


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