World Council of Churches

Statements from the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches November 2013

Join the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

WCC Unity statement
08 November 2013

WCC Statement on contemporary issues

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is the broadest and most inclusive among the many organised expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity. The WCC brings together 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of denominations from such historic traditions of the Protestant Reformation as Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed, as well as many united and independent churches. While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

For its member churches, the WCC is a unique space: one in which they can reflect, speak, act, worship and work together, challenge and support each other, share and debate with each other. As members of this fellowship, WCC member churches:

• are called to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship;
• promote their common witness in work for mission and evangelism;
• engage in Christian service by serving human need, breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace, and upholding the integrity of creation; and
• foster renewal in unity, worship, mission and service.

Methodist Contribution to the WCC
At an international level not only is Methodist commitment to the unity of the church expressed through formal dialogues, but also in the commitment of many individuals to the work of the WCC. Three of the General Secretaries of the World Council of Churches have been Methodists: the Revd Dr Philip Potter of Dominica, the Revd Dr Emilio Castro of Uruguay and the Revd Samuel Kobia of Kenya. Pauline Webb, a former Vice-President of the British Conference was the first woman to be elected as an officer of the Central Committee, playing a leading role as Vice-Moderator 1968-1975.

British Methodism has sent delegates to every Assembly of the World Council of Churches and has at various times been represented on its Central Committees and Faith and Order Commission.
 

Main Programme Areas
In February 2006, the WCC's 9th assembly formulated the Council's programme priorities for the period ahead. So, over the following seven years, the WCC will be working within the framework of six new programmes, each of which builds on past work in these areas, and includes several time-bound, projects and activities.

P1-WCC and the Ecumenical Movement in the 21st Century, a programme area sharpening the WCC's leading role in coordinating joint efforts to unfold the challenges of ecumenism in the 21st century and their consequences for the vision, activities and structures of ecumenical organizations and partners. One of the major novelties in the area will be the WCC's contribution to developing a theological platform for common reflections on issues on the ecumenical agenda.

P2-Unity, Mission and Spirituality, addressing issues which are central to the identity, life and witness of the church. Churches calling one another to visible unity and churches working together for a more faithful witness in the world shall constitute the two pillars of the programme area. While unity and mission are presented in creative tension, a renewed emphasis is placed on spirituality, with churches deepening together the spiritual and worship dimensions of their lives.

P3-Public Witness: Addressing the Power, Affirming Peace, will address urgent concerns for the churches in relationship to peace, security, poverty and justice in the world, and will develop and coordinate an ecumenical approach to international issues through policy development, advocacy, solidarity, campaigns and awareness raising efforts. While peace in the Middle East shall constitute a priority, as an urgent and specific case with global implications, the Decade to Overcome Violence will come to an end in 2010-11 with an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation where a "Declaration on Just Peace", which will be discussed and worked on by the churches, will be adopted.

P4-Justice and Diakonia will strengthen the Council's ability to have an impact on churches' engagement in both meeting immediate human needs and in addressing the structural roots of justice. The programme will facilitate expressions of ecumenical solidarity, reflect on issues of accountability, and support churches' healing ministries. While the issue of HIV and AIDS will be more closely integrated with justice and diakonia, the programme will open new avenues for dealing with matters of faith, science and technology, for example, bio-ethical issues as church dividing issues. Bringing together work on justice and diakonia will allow us to deepen the conceptual and theological understanding of the interconnections between transformational justice and prophetic diakonia.

P5-Ecumenical and Faith Formation, will encourage forms of Christian nurture that are ecumenical in purpose, and will emphasise ecumenical formation based in the formation of Christian values, attitudes and ways of relating to the other. Opportunities of ecumenical formation offered at Bossey will constitute the core of the activities, which will also include work on development of capacity, curricula and methodologies for contextualised ecumenical and faith formation.

P6-Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation, will look at inter-religious relations and dialogue both from the perspective of the mission of the church and its theological self-understanding within the pluralistic society, from the perspective of education and ecumenical formation, as well as the Council's work on public witness in addressing the role of religion in public life and the life of the churches in minority situations.

Members of the WCC
The world's largest Christian body, the Roman Catholic Church, is not a member of the WCC, but has worked closely with the Council for more than four decades and sends representatives to all major WCC conferences as well as to its Central Committee meetings and the assemblies. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity appoints 12 representatives to the WCC's Faith and Order Commission and cooperates with the WCC to prepare resource materials for local congregations and parishes to use during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The WCC provides a helpful analysis of main church families across the world. Methodist Churches from all over the world are members of the WCC.

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