Methodist representatives report on World Council of Churches

Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Lifeand Social Justice, recently returned from the World Council ofChurches assembly in Brazil. She, along with over 700 otherrepresentatives from 340 member churches, spent 10 days incelebration, deliberation and creating strongerrelationships.

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

Anthea Cox was able to take the opportunity whilst in Brazil tovisit work of the Movimento sem Terra supported by Christian Aid.MST is a campaign by landless people for rights to the large areasof farmland that is lying fallow. A constitution gives landlesspeople the opportunity to use the spare land. People camp intemporary camps whilst the wait to be allocated land. Anthea, theRevd Graham Sparkes of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and atrustee of Christian Aid visited a camp and then visited twosettlements to see what people who had received a land allocationwhere able to achieve. Anthea said, 'it was an incredibleexperience to spend time with people who had nothing, waiting fortheir land allocation and to see the contrast of abundance thatoccurred once people had access to land and were able to use theirskills in farming. We saw arable farming including organic ricefields and livestock farming with impressive dairy herds. We werealso able to visit a supermarket, bought, by one of thecooperatives that was profitably trading. As a result of the visitwe were able to get the WCC report on Latin America amended tohighlight the importance of land reform, not only in Brazil butglobally.'