01 March 2006

Methodist representatives report on World Council of Churches

Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, recently returned from the World Council of Churches assembly in Brazil. She, along with over 700 other representatives from 340 member churches, spent 10 days in celebration, deliberation and creating stronger relationships.

'There is great value in the British Methodist Church being present in a worldwide ecumenical forum such as the WCC' says Anthea. 'It enables us to view issues from a much wider perspective and to work with others worldwide to bring gospel values to global issues. It was tremendous to hear Desmond Tutu passionately advocating for peace as a Christian witness and to then join with the assembly to walk with him on a candlelit procession through the streets of Porte Alegre for peace. It was a real lesson in how there can be hope, even in what feels like the depths of despair. The Assembly marked the half way point of the 'decade to overcome violence' and I have certainly brought back to Britain with me a renewed drive to assert the importance of this campaign.'

Anthea Cox was able to take the opportunity whilst in Brazil to visit work of the Movimento sem Terra supported by Christian Aid. MST is a campaign by landless people for rights to the large areas of farmland that is lying fallow. A constitution gives landless people the opportunity to use the spare land. People camp in temporary camps whilst the wait to be allocated land. Anthea, the Revd Graham Sparkes of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and a trustee of Christian Aid visited a camp and then visited two settlements to see what people who had received a land allocation where able to achieve. Anthea said, 'it was an incredible experience to spend time with people who had nothing, waiting for their land allocation and to see the contrast of abundance that occurred once people had access to land and were able to use their skills in farming. We saw arable farming including organic rice fields and livestock farming with impressive dairy herds. We were also able to visit a supermarket, bought, by one of the cooperatives that was profitably trading. As a result of the visit we were able to get the WCC report on Latin America amended to highlight the importance of land reform, not only in Brazil but globally.'

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