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GEN 8 Report on the Pre-Assembly Programme Evaluation

22 February 2005


CONTENTS

 

Introduction                                                                                                                       

Part 1: Assessment of Overall Programmes in Five Areas of Inquiry                            

            1.1: Meeting overall programme goals                                                                 

1.2: Relevance, pertinence and significance of programmes                              

1.3: Ownership and impact of programmes                                                           

1.4: Impact of programmes  on Strengthening the Fellowship                                               

1.5: WCC methods and ways of working in relation to programmes            

Part 2: Main Findings and Conclusions on Individual Programmes                               

            2.1: Strengthening the One Ecumenical Movement

            2.2: Ecumenical Institute, Bossey

            2.3: Dialogue With Neighbours of Other Religions                                          

            2.4: Decade to Overcome Violencep

            2.5: Unity of the Church                                                                                         

            2.6: Ecumenical Advocacy and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts                        

            2.7: Ecumenical Focus on Africa               

            2.8: Mission & Evangelism: Promoting the Ministry of Reconciliation     

            2.9: The Challenge of Ecumenical Formation       

            2.10:The Ethics of Life and Alternatives to Globalization    

            2.11:Diakonia and Solidarity    

            2.12:Communicating the Fellowship and Telling the Ecumenical Story 

            2.13:Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel 

            2.14:Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa 

Part 3: Overall Assessment of Programmes and Recommendations

            3.1: Overall Assessment of Programme Work

            3.2: Recommendations   

            3.3: Suggested Framework for Future Strategic Focus of WCC 

           

Annex 1: Information Gathering

Annex 2: Glossary                   

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Introduction

"We don't know how to interpret the silence" [1]

The context in which the World Council of Churches operates has changed significantly since the last Assembly in late 1998 in Harare. The process of globalization has speeded up and is having major implications even in the smallest local communities. There are changes in economic structures, environmental sustainability challenges, mobility of people and the spread of diseases, most notoriously the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. Poverty remains a scandal for humanity. In the aftermath of 9/11, issues of violence and security have been raised to a new level. Many of these events also illustrate a change of those paradigms that have been directing the work of WCC and the ecumenical movement at large. One of them is secularization and the abandonment of religion, which has been challenged by events in recent years when the role of religion in societies has gained heightened emphasis. Another is the one opposing the pastoral and prophetic roles of the church. The paradigms currently directing the work need to be reassessed in light of the world today. 

All this is happening in a global scene where on the one hand there is increased access to some types of media and on the other hand there is a concentration of media networks that results in the creation of a global world-view seen through only a few filters.

The Ecumenical Movement in the 21st Century is also in a profound process of transformation. The face of world Christianity is changing, with rapid growth of Pentecostal and Independent churches in the South, most of which have very little contact with structural ecumenism. The reality lived by church communities in the South or in the revival of many of the churches in Eastern Europe brings into question the old divisions of Mission, Faith and Order, Life and Work perceived as an inheritance from the early days of the ecumenical movement in Europe. At the same time the need for specialization has resulted in the creation of new instruments to handle emergency response (Action by Churches Together, ACT), some of the advocacy agenda of the churches (Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance EAA) and a joint communication venture for covering news related to international religious, ecumenical and humanitarian affairs (Ecumenical News International ENI). Now plans are underway for the establishment of a new ecumenical Global Coalition in the area of development and service. Bearing in mind that it is planned to group part of the specialized ministries, who altogether account for 80 % of the programme funding of the WCC, this will have major implications, even with the Global Coalition's proposed links with WCC. Regional and sub-regional structures have also expanded in recent years.

Confronted by these challenges, WCC has responded during the last few years with

initiating parallel but complementary processes. The Reconfiguration process[2] has tried to assess some of the overall challenges mentioned above. At the same time, the Council has engaged for the first time in its history in a major assessment of its programmatic work with and for the global fellowship. This Pre-Assembly Programme Evaluation report will offer one perspective to these more fundamental debates. It is part of a process that started in late 2001-early 2002 with the Mid-Term Evaluation requested by the Programme Committee in its meeting in January 2001. The evaluation at that time concentrated on many institutional concerns and was mainly based on internal evaluation by the staff. One of the recommendations was to have a more comprehensive external evaluation implemented prior to the Assembly, focusing more on the content of the programmes and their assessment from the perspective of the constituency[3]. The Executive Committee decided on the terms of reference in February 2004 and nominated four persons, Marion Best, William Ogara, Sylvia Raulo and Georges Tsetsis to carry out the evaluation process.

The terms of reference included four major areas of concern: the achievement of the goals of the Harare Assembly, the relevance and significance of the programmes, the impact and ownership of them and their contribution to the strengthening of the fellowship. The evaluation team was asked also to comment on methodologies used by the Council and finally to provide a short evaluation on each individual programme. The result should offer clear programme guidelines for the Programme Guidelines Committee in the Assembly in Porto Alegre.

Listening to the constituency, both the voices and the silence, was the first step and hence information gathering from the constituency was the crucial starting point. Questionnaires and interviews, both with individuals and groups were the methods used. Input was received in one way or another from about one half of the member churches representing every region. (For details of the data gathering process see Annex 1)  In addition, the team had the advantage of being able to use the material and mapping of the reconfiguration process, some individual programme evaluations, self-evaluation from Commissions/Advisory bodies[4], and a number of programme documents. The team also wishes to recognize the active and self-critical participation of the Staff Leadership Group[5] and staff programme teams who were interviewed twice during the process.

However, as a team we need to recognize the limitations of the evaluation. While the original idea was to conduct an external evaluation, the process was conducted by a team that cannot be called external. With one exception, the members had close connection to the WCC either as a member of the governing body, former member of staff or funding partner/interim staff member. On the other hand, given the complexity of the task and the many changes during the last couple of years in the programme structure, this had the advantage of speeding up the understanding of the issues involved.

Another limitation was the lack of a well functioning programme planning, monitoring and evaluation mechanism. This was already identified as a problem area in the Mid-Term Evaluation. With this missing, the team had to rely on an overall assessment from the constituency, based on a general understanding of the programmes. We could not verify or crosscheck the findings with a continuous internal goal setting, evaluation and follow-up that would have been documented. 

More importantly it is a serious limitation that so many member churches stayed silent during the process. However, within these limitations we have been surprised to see the great convergence on findings in general, further confirmed by the parallel reconfiguration discussion and we feel confident in presenting the following general assessment reflecting the image of the programmatic work of the Council as perceived by its constituency.

The report is divided into three parts. Part 1 answers the main questions from the Terms of Reference, as adopted by the Executive Committee in 2004, with main findings and conclusions. Part 2 seeks to address each individual programme and two international ecumenical initiatives with main findings and conclusions. Part 3 gives an overall assessment of the work and makes recommendations for Programme Guidelines for the Assembly Programme Committee.

 

PART 1:   Assessment of Overall Programmes in Five Areas of Inquiry

1.1   Meeting overall programme goals 

To what extent have the programmes implemented during the period of evaluation met the overall goals set by the last Assembly and the subsequent programme policy framework defined by the Central Committee and by the Commissions/Advisory Bodies?

 

"It is difficult to understand what the overall goals are; it seems there are several different layers."

 

Main Findings

A preliminary assumption of the evaluation team was that the exercise was being conducted within the framework of clearly identified goals. This was challenged at the

beginning of our task when it was difficult for our team to discover articulated programme goals from Harare on which to base our evaluation of individual programmes. Most respondents were in a similar position and indicated they were not familiar with the overall or specific programme goals. Many also said WCC's vision is ‘blurred' and this lack of a clearly articulated vision is one of the reasons for the inability to set clear overall goals for the programmatic work.

While they were not able to name specific programme goals, most had a general knowledge of the issues the Harare Assembly identified and to which the Council had given its attention. Those most often named were the Decade to Overcome Violence, Special Commission, HIV/AIDS, Globalization debate/Economic Justice and Special Focus on Africa. All these issues had been subjects of discussion during the 8th Assembly and they continued to be identified as pertinent issues. While most said they were unable to assess the extent to which overall goals had been achieved, one of the ways they answered the question was to cite whether a programme or activity had been picked up and used or had been affirmed by their own constituencies. Often it connected with programmatic emphases that were also underway in their own church or constituency and/or ones that responded to issues they considered timely.

It is the role of the Central Committee to initiate and terminate programmes on the recommendation of its Programme Committee and the latter bases its recommendations on the advice it receives from Commissions and Advisory Groups that relate to various programme areas. Respondents from these groups were confused about how the programme policy framework defined by CC in 1999 after Harare (Being Church; Caring for Life; Ministry of Reconciliation; Common Witness and Service amidst Globalization) relates to the present structure of the thirteen programmes and two ecumenical initiatives that are currently being assessed.[6] In addition, these fifteen programmes include some sixty activities and respondents were often unclear what constituted a programme and what was an activity.[7] The mid term evaluation pointed out the need for improved programme planning mechanisms and increased knowledge of programmes by those on governing and consultative bodies.[8]

Harare programme directions were generally assessed to be too wide ranging especially since dwindling human and financial resources have resulted in WCC being able to achieve less. At the same time there was affirmation that WCC had been able to achieve as much as it had given the financial strains and reduction of staff that had taken place especially in the past two years. Repeatedly we heard that the Council must do less and do it well. Priorities have to be set based upon a clearly articulated vision and through determining what a global body, taking the funding realities into consideration, best does.

 

Team Conclusions

  • Appreciation was expressed for what had been achieved especially in the light of financial restraints and staff reductions. Achievement of goals in this case, when general knowledge was low, was interpreted by the respondents as equaling ownership: whether programmes are being used and/or affirmed by their own constituencies

  •  Respondents were able to identify a number of issues that were highlighted at the 8th Assembly and are still considered timely and there was general satisfaction that WCC is working with those, although they were unclear how this was done.

  • The lack of a clear overarching vision has made it difficult to set understandable overall goals for the programme work and to set priorities.

  • The governing bodies[9] have difficulty in carrying out their role of initiating, monitoring and terminating programmes and this calls for a more flexible and transparent programme framework.

  • Because Harare Assembly and the subsequent Central Committee meetings were unable to clearly articulate overall programme goals and set priorities, the result has been that WCC is trying to do more than it can effectively handle given the extent of its financial and human resources.  In this context it is important that good preparatory work be done to assist the Programme Guidelines Committee at the 9th Assembly to come up with an achievable and appropriate set of programme initiatives for the period following the 9th Assembly. 

 

1.2   Relevance, pertinence and significance of programmes

To which extent are the programmes relevant, pertinent and significant in relation to the priority needs of the constituency, and how were these programmes able to adjust to changing world contexts and emerging needs?

"The relevance and ownership of programmes are weakened when it is perceived that it is a separate agenda from the normal life of the churches."

Main Findings

The issues of relevance, pertinence and significance were most often interpreted by the respondents as relating to the importance of a particular issue for the constituency, the creative methods used by a particular WCC programme and the extent to which these had been combined to create a programme that the churches were able to relate to easily, could use/draw inspiration and ideas from for their own reality and linked them with other churches and actors around the globe.

Most of the interviewees gave particular emphasis to the Decade to Overcome Violence. While violence is increasing in the world, the "success" of the programme is related to the fact that it addresses an issue that is of major concern everywhere and rather than WCC starting a programme, it builds on work already being undertaken by many churches in all parts of the world. In other places it has succeeded in encouraging the churches to put issues of violence high in their agenda, from domestic violence to issues of war and peace. The recent regional focus each year has emphasized this. There is a high degree of ownership by the churches. WCC's role has been to support, encourage and to facilitate conversations and information sharing among the constituency, provide a  simple effective study guide in several languages, a well maintained web site and cooperation and coordination with regional ecumenical bodies have all increased the outreach and effectiveness of the programme. It is under girded by a theology of peace and non-violence and the Churches have a moral authority in promoting peace and non-violence.

Another relevant issue, even considered by many to be critical, is ecumenical formation and in this area a highly valued WCC programme is the work of the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey. As a living community where experiential education can be carried out, it has been able to take up emerging needs by generating discussion on some risky subjects (Inter-religious dialogue, human sexuality) in addition to the regular courses. Bossey has a solid reputation, and is perceived to have a clear concept and direction, yet adaptable to new needs, including taking Bossey "out" to the churches. This has also raised expectations to do more in the regions in order to allow more people to participate, especially as language (only English at Bossey) remains a problem. Another tool for ecumenical formation that was mentioned were the scholarships administered under the WCC Ecumenical Formation programme although at present there seems to be different appreciations about the current direction of this activity. 

Unity of the Church/Faith and Order was named often as an important programme but it was pointed out that F&O is deemed most relevant and meaningful when its studies are integrated into other programmes as theological framework for their work, rather than as "stand alone" studies. Another issue of concern that hampers the relevance and eventual significance of the present programme is the lack of dissemination of the results and weak relational capacity.

For many interviewees, Inter-religious dialogue is one of the most pertinent issues that WCC is presently dealing with and hence was named as a significant activity of the WCC. However, here it was clear that the present way of implementing the programme is seen as being carried out in small academic groups and not coping with existential problems of communities living together at the grass roots levels, decreasing the relevance of the present programme. It was also noted that the issue itself touches many other programme areas and should involve more women.

An equally important element of WCC is the programme dealing with Ethics of Life and Alternatives to Globalization, particularly in relation to the issues of globalization such as Economic Justice. That activity has managed to involve churches around this issue of concern.  In addition to the issues, appreciation was expressed that this programme manages well to relate to some of the regions. It is believed that the WCC is a reference point in this area. The Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network and Indigenous Peoples programmes are examples of work centered outside Geneva that are deemed significant and point to the need of more thoroughly evaluating the potential in this type of networking.

The Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC was deemed significant and relevant as an example of activity that responded to a particular situation and need of the Council and its constituency. Reactions to the outcome of the Special Commission were mixed. Many believed that it has contributed to the deepening of the fellowship, and to the recommitment of the Orthodox Churches after the 1998 crisis. In any case, it has been an example of the Council finding a way to discuss and formulate new ways of working in the midst of difficult and divisive issues. While it started mainly as a concern for the regions where the Orthodox constituency is strong, the results have a potential to reshape relations within the whole fellowship.

The Special Focus on Africa was deemed timely and significant. The manner in which WCC accompanied and helped to strengthen the All Africa Conference of Churches by seconding a staff member has been highly affirmed by those from Africa. It is an example of WCC in a capacity building role. Similarly, the work on HIV/AIDS both through the health and healing desk in Mission and Evangelism and the Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA) were deemed significant and relevant in responding to this pandemic, based on the work done by the churches and concentrating the role of the WCC in initiating, facilitating and coordinating these efforts.

Uprootedness, whether in migration or as problem related to refugees/internally displaced is an issue deemed important all around the world. Regarding WCC programme activity on this issue, both elements of networking and advocacy were mentioned as being significant for churches struggling with the problems related to this.

Advocacy at the global level in relation to a number of issues in general was mentioned as an important fundamental function of the WCC.

Team Conclusions

  • The programmes most often identified as relevant and significant by respondents were the ones that were addressing issues that were urgent or timely in their context or deemed fundamental for the mission of the Council.

  • There are clear characteristics for the programmes that were most often mentioned: in addition to the issues, the work done has been done in cooperation with the churches in the regions and had a clear ownership, WCC's role was one of facilitating, coordinating, accompanying, networking, connecting and/or capacity building

  • Solid theological frameworks are needed for the work being undertaken.

  • Those with high relevance were also often programmes with a clear direction and scope, and communicated well.

1.3   Ownership and impact of programmes

To which extent have the programmes been owned and used by the constituency, and have they produced a lasting or significant impact (positive or negative, intended or not) in the life of the churches and of the people they serve?

"To be positive, one should say that during the last few years the Council has showed more awareness and concern to making an impact, making a difference"

Main Findings

Respondents were only able to comment on impact from a personal point of view, as despite recommendations from the Mid-term evaluation, WCC still lacks a functioning Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PME) mechanism. Such a mechanism would include goal oriented plans with objectives and indicators on impact and a documented monitoring, analysis, evaluation and systematic follow-up and processing of feedback. The lack of follow-up is especially important, as it is virtually impossible to see the impact beyond immediate results, often limited to the degree of participation. The very general goals and objectives furthermore complicate the possibilities of assessing the impacts of one particular program. While all programmes undoubtedly do have unintended and in some cases unwanted impacts, those cannot be verified and the opportunity to learn from both successes and failures is lost. There were comments, however, that in recent years the Council seems to be more aware of the need to make a real difference and to plan for conscious impact.

A further limitation was the time scope of this evaluation. Impact is not easily measured within such a short period (effectively years 1999-2003), as it is by nature long term. In this respect, it was interesting to note that when answering impact, people would refer to such past programmes or activities of the WCC as Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, the long record of human rights work in Latin America, Programme to Combat Racism  - all still perceived as impacting the life of the churches with the profound changes they brought with them challenging traditional practices, theology and the role of churches in society among other things.

The analysis on the impact was hence limited to three angles: the ownership of programmes by the constituency , the use of the programmes/involvement of the constituency and/or the extent the programmes had managed to introduce new subjects/challenges in the life and agenda of the churches

Programmes mentioned as being owned and used by the churches, such as DOV or EHAIA were also identified as having a major impact with clear elements. There had to be a clear role of the churches either as initiators (acute problems facing churches), implementers (being part of the execution of the programme or part of an advocacy effort) or by challenging their own ways of working/helping them address an acute need such as the pandemic of HIV/Aids. The programmes needed to reach grassroots and be empowering.

One of the main factors supporting a successful impact of the WCC programmes was the timeliness and sustainability of the response and clear communication of the goals and focus of the work to the constituency, facilitating their involvement. The language and accessible ways of addressing issues were mentioned as important elements in spreading information about programmes. The dominance of English puts limitations on who is reached. Communications in general were rated low in achievement, but high in importance.

Programmes can also have negative impact, especially when they are dealing with political issues and when the preparation has been inadequate, WCC risks being perceived as driving political agendas without fundamental background work. This is especially important in issues with high public profile. On the other hand, there was also acknowledgment that learning had taken place when some controversial issues came to be accepted later. The important element in them was that solid background work had been done.

 

The most difficult part is the lack of ownership of the programmes of the WCC and many people in the churches are self critical about their lack of involvement. Very few people felt that the present programmes are owned and used by their constituency beyond the general feeling that "probably WCC should be doing that". The involvement of the churches in initiating, planning together and being part of the implementation is lacking in most of the present programmes. There is a perception that programmes are WCC staff initiatives that churches are asked to react to or implement.

There were also examples of unexpected impacts when the mere fact of getting involved in the global ecumenical work changed people and their churches in their ways of relating and acting towards each other and giving a new dimension in their identity, more global and open. This kind of impact is a side effect of many of the programmes, but it is not documented or analyzed, and hence one important dimension of the work is often lost.

 

Team Conclusions

  • Planning for a time scope of several years is important for any desired lasting impacts.

  • There is an urgent need to further develop the existing programme management mechanism and put into place a functioning Planning Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism and indicators to assess any measurable impact (or even results giving impact in the future) of the present work. This is also needed to track unwanted or unexpected impact of programmes.

  • Communication about the programmes and their goals and objectives, is the key element in spreading the impact beyond those directly linked to programmes and in the majority of cases it needs to be strengthened.

  • Resolving the dilemma of commitment in principle but on the other hand a lack of interest and ownership by many member churches is another challenge (including a lack of financial commitment). A key issue to be addressed is how to set loose the existing potential of involvement in the member churches.

  • The greater the role of the local churches, the greater the impact. This needs to challenge the programme designs if WCC is really to make a difference.

 

1.4   Impact of programmes on strengthening the fellowship

To what extent has each individual programme served the CUV process, facilitating the cooperation among the churches and offering involvement and commitment to the constituency and has their overall impact strengthened the fellowship?

"Fellowship must go beyond live and let live. It is more than warming up ourselves. It must enable us to change where change is deemed essential for the achievement of our mission"

Main Findings

The document Towards a Common Understanding and Vision (CUV)[10] contains the guiding vision of the WCC upon which its mission and programmatic life is based. It declares that the WCC is a fellowship of churches that desires to move to visible unity and to carry out their common calling through witness and service to the world. Given the foundational nature of the CUV, it was surprising to discover in the evaluation that for most of the respondents CUV was either unknown or has remained a historical document.     It is therefore difficult to assess the extent to which CUV has been the framework for programmes and has contributed to co-operation among the member churches and consequently how this has led to strengthening the fellowship. Another challenge for WCC is how to articulate the spirit of CUV in a new and fast changing context.

The majority said the work of the Special Commission had contributed to deepening the fellowship. A number of ongoing encounters, official visits and follow up have provided assurances to many Orthodox that their voices are being heard and taken seriously. Through the creation of this ‘ecumenical space' further attempts have been made to increase understanding between Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches regarding different doctrines, practices and traditions. There are many voices anticipating that the Council's move to consensus decision making will increase understanding, build trust and deepen relationships within the fellowship. On the other hand, there is also concern about the extent to which the prophetic role of the council can be safeguarded in the light of this change. There was also concern that the wider vision of CUV had been reduced to a negotiation process of a common life together. Without a clear overall vision for WCC, its life is not sustainable.

Other means affirmed for deepening and strengthening the fellowship included team visits, ‘Living Letters' with the emphasis on church to church visits, visits by the General Secretary and WCC staff teams. The fellowship has been growing in Africa, thanks partly to EHAIA, Special Focus on Africa and efforts put into strengthening AACC. Visible networks like EDAN, women's and youth networks have a strengthening effect.

CUV also puts emphasis on widening the fellowship and there have been a number of initiatives in this area since the 8th Assembly for which many expressed appreciation. This included the establishment of the Global Christian Forum and the Joint Consultative Group between the WCC and Pentecostals. However there is a creative tension as WCC tries to both deepen and widen the fellowship. Some fear resources given to widening the fellowship will mean less for deepening it. In response to the challenges posed by the proliferation of ecumenical organizations, two consultations on Reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement bringing together ecumenical partners have also been held.[11]

The WCC involvement on issues in some of the Regions has had mixed reactions. For some, in the absence of a clear and coherent strategy, the role of WCC has been seen as that of encroachment. Sometimes there has been confusion about the roles of WCC and the Regional Ecumenical Organizations (REO). Sometimes small churches are neglected to the benefit of the larger ones. There needs to be more intentional and strategic planning with both the REO's and the Christian World Communions. Programme work needs to be assessed not in isolation but collectively and move toward a ‘knitting together' of the programmes by the various players.

Team Conclusions

·        If CUV is to remain the vision statement of the WCC, it needs to be clearly rearticulated and interpreted, the language simplified and the document widely shared.

  • The majority of respondents said the Special Commission contributed to deepening the fellowship.

  • Processes and methods that contribute to deepening the fellowship include creating ‘ecumenical space', church to church visits, visits by WCC staff, capacity building and establishing and nurturing networks, hence enhancing the relational side and several new initiatives are helping to widen the fellowship e.g. WCC and Pentecostals Consultative Group and Global Christian Forum.

  • Human resources are being stretched as the Council works on both deepening and widening the fellowship. Ways to utilize the time and talents of individuals and churches beyond WCC staff needs to be increased.

  • While affirming the reconfiguration process, some said its relationship to CUV needs to be clarified.

  • In order to strengthen the fellowship, WCC needs to examine how programme work is designed together with other actors. There is a need for a clear intentional strategy for involvement in each of the regions following analysis and a re-visioning of roles.

  • WCC has done well to hold the fellowship together in the midst of significant challenges. The struggle is however, far from over given the demands by the constituency and WCC has to invest resources in creating space for fellowship to continue. Whatever the position, there is a value in staying together even in difficult times.

1.5   WCC methods and ways of working in relation to programmes 

"WCC methodology? First thing that comes to my mind is an elderly gentleman reading his paper to us."

Main Findings

The issue of methodologies and ways of working were already addressed in the Mid-Term Evaluation in 2002, with a call for a more systematic analysis on successes and failures and a more conscious and diverse use of methodologies in the design of the programmes. These issues were further addressed directly in the questionnaires and the interviews but also surfaced constantly in connection with questions of programme goals, involvement and impact. This was an area with the most convergence among respondents, irrespective of region or background.

Communication within and beyond the constituency was the most often cited area of problems and potentialities, and highlights how the constituency needs the Council to communicate by listening, informing and connecting as part of all the work it is doing. More aspects of the area will be dealt with under Part 2/item 2.12 of this report. 

While networking, solidarity visits, grants, publications, websites, and different ways of horizontal learning are part of the WCC methodologies, meetings, consultations and conferences dominate the picture. While their importance in creating personal relations and human interaction are still valued, they are perceived as being too often didactically archaic and perceived as isolated events without a process of preparation and follow-up. The results are often made public in an unattractive form that conveys little for those not present. Hence the meetings are of little use for those not directly involved.

Grants have lost significance in terms of amounts but are still important as a strategic tool. At present, some partners and churches benefit from this tool from various programs, while it is unclear for those outside the system as to how they could have access to funds. This issue needs to be addressed from a managerial point of view with the establishment of a transparent project handling system that would allow the tracking of the overall picture of the accompaniment the council is giving from different programmes as well as the strategic use of funds in general in addressing emerging challenges. This need has been pointed out in some of the Activity level evaluations[12].

There are additional issues that need to be noted in the strategic follow up of those who participate in WCC related events. Sometimes it is perceived that participants have been selected for their suitability in the WCC agenda instead of being strategic for dissemination of the results in their churches. On the other hand many of the consulted people have been or are partly serving in the different decision making/advisory structures of the WCC. As mentioned earlier, they often feel they do not have enough information, but an equally important challenge is that they do not always know how to use the information they have and how to disseminate it in an effective way.

Lack of preparation and follow-up was not only identified as a WCC problem but were acknowledged with self-criticism. Many noted that the churches do not have an adequate system of preparation and their representatives in different meetings are often selected primarily according to language skills - so the responsibility lies both with WCC and member churches.

Hence the use of alternative pedagogical approaches and an overall ecumenical formation aspect in all the work is crucial. In this respect WCC is perceived as lacking competence in the use of innovative methodologies.

Involvement of churches/constituency is the single most important factor in the success of any programme, not just as participants but as initiators, owners and implementers. At present, this is hardly visible in the design structures of the programmes. In practice, many programmes have had different ways of involving members of the constituency in studies, research, sharing staff, visits to the churches etc. However, this is not dealt with systematically and the use of those methods seems to depend on individuals.

Team Conclusions

  • A more systematic analysis of the methods used in some programmes with the successful record of involving the constituency e.g. through studies, research, sharing staff, visits to churches is an important element when rethinking the methods used by the council.

  • Communication of the programmes needs to be built into the design of the programme  and the overall area of communication needs to be strengthened for the Council

  • Meetings and gatherings need to be linked to clearly outlined processes seen in the frame of continuous ecumenical formation

  • Programme designs need to be based on involving the constituency at all levels.

  • The use of different methodologies needs to be looked at strategically and the choice based on core functions, such as strengthening the fellowship.

  • The use of Commission and Committee members, participants and members of governing and advisory bodies in advocating and communicating the fellowship should be systematically thought through and looked at from a strategic point of view. This will avoid the present practice whereby individual members have to find ways to struggle with this function. This is especially important in regions with few representatives. If they are not connected with church structures, WCC visibility drops immediately.

Part 2:  Main Findings and Conclusions on Individual Programmes

This section of our report gives the viewpoint of the constituency in relation to these individual programmes[13] while the Harare-Porto Alegre report contains detailed information about each of the programmes and their activities since 1999. Before the Assembly, ways will be found to harmonize programme references in the two reports to give participants the fuller picture of the programmatic work along with our assessment.    

2.1  Strengthening the One Ecumenical Movement

"The Report of the Special Commission triggered a process of better listening"

Main Findings

The main thrust of the programme has been on giving leadership to the work of the WCC, fostering membership relations, widening the fellowship and promoting the coherence of the ecumenical movement.

Although not associated with a particular programme, the responses received referred overwhelmingly to the importance of building and nurturing relationships in the ecumenical movement. The Common Understanding and Vision identified the WCC as a fellowship of churches and placed responsibility on the member churches to build and nurture relationships among themselves. But as the recent consultation on Ecumenism in the 21st Century has shown, there are many other groups like REO's, NCC's, Christian World Communions, agencies and Specialized Ministries with whom WCC relates in addition to churches and those relationships also require ongoing attention.

Since the Harare Assembly the most significant activity within this programme has been the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC. The Special Commission was mentioned in the vast majority of responses. Reactions to the outcome of the Special Commission are, however, mixed. There has generally been a good feeling about the fact that space and time was provided for discussion and building understanding around what could have been divisive issues.  In some cases concern was expressed that it had caused the Council to be too inward looking since Harare. While many hail the move to consensus seeking and decision making as a positive step others are concerned lest it still the prophetic voice of the WCC. Others are disappointed that what they valued as ecumenical worship may be lost in the move to ‘common prayer'. Overwhelmingly Orthodox responses to the Special Commission were positive.

Regarding both deepening and broadening the fellowship, for nearly 40 years the Joint Working Group with the Roman Catholic Church has contributed to carrying out the ecumenical mission of the churches and there is a proposal to convene a consultation in 2005 to evaluate the relationship between the RCC and the WCC. Further practical steps for broadening the fellowship include the proposal for a gathering of the Global Christian Forum planned for year 2007 designed to bring together WCC members churches, Roman Catholics, African Instituted churches, Pentecostals and Evangelicals. There have been smaller gatherings held with representatives of these churches since 1998 and respondents from all regions affirmed this initiative. A consultative group that carries on dialogue between WCC and Pentecostals was established following the 8th Assembly in 1998 and has met several times. Pentecostals in Latin America appreciate what they refer to as the ‘growing openness' of WCC.

This programme also carries responsibility for maximizing participation of governing bodies and as was noted in section 1.1 of this report, members of the Central Committee and even some of the Programme Committee members stated they are unclear about the directions and goals of the programmes and do not feel knowledgeable enough to make decisions related to initiating, reformulating and/or terminating programmes.

Team Conclusions

  • The Special Commission stands out as a key activity of the programme.

  • All respondents stressed the key importance of building and maintaining relationships for the health and future of the ecumenical movement. With recent staffing and structural changes within WCC this role is spread more widely across staff teams and could become diffuse. Responsibility for building and nurturing relationships needs to be clarified and strengthened in all programmes.

  • Significant steps have been taken to build relationships with Pentecostals and there is evidence that this is appreciated on all sides.

  • The consultations on reconfiguration (Ecumenism in the 21st Century) are related to the goals of this programme and have the potential to strengthen the ecumenical movement and to clarify the role of WCC within the movement.

  • There is a need for improved programme planning mechanisms and increased knowledge of programmes by those on governing and consultative bodies.

2.2   Ecumenical Institute, Bossey

 

"When a graduate student returns home they have been changed by the Bossey experience and their mindset is an ecumenical one."

 

Main Findings

The Bossey programme contributes to the formation of ecumenical leadership, both lay and ordained. Bossey degree programmes, MA and PhD, are carried out in cooperation with the University of Geneva and it is generally acknowledged this has resulted in strengthening academic standards. There is a significant upgrade of the library currently underway. Many of the Bossey seminars are seen as ‘cutting edge' and have included the role of religions in peace making, Human Sexuality, Inter-religious on how to read the Bible in relation to other faith traditions and bioethics. These and other seminars are designed in consultation and collaboration with WCC staff teams and support WCC's overall programme goals.

All programmes have regular ongoing evaluation built into them and through this form of monitoring, faculty makes adjustments in methodologies and content. More work is underway regarding follow up on Bossey students to discern the lasting significance and effects of the graduate school in particular. The programmes are all well subscribed: there are twice as many applicants as can be accommodated for the Graduate School, three times as many for the MA and four times as many for the PhD. Even though the Georgian and Bulgarian Orthodox churches have withdrawn their WCC membership, they still send students to Bossey.   

The fellowship is involved in supporting Bossey in concrete ways with the Roman Catholic Church and a mission agency providing funds for two full time faculty and every year there are visiting professors and sessional lecturers who donate their time. A fourth faculty position is dependent on an endowment that at present does not produce sufficient funds which is a concern. Many students from the South require financial assistance and fortunately Bossey's scholarship fund has continued to be well supported. 

Through visiting lecturers and an increased number of students from more evanglical churches, they have increased interaction with Evangelicals and Pentecostals.  Bossey would welcome more female students but the churches overwhelmingly recommend men for the longer-term programmes and as a result only 20% of the students are women. 

Respondents affirmed Bossey as an essential part of the WCC especially at a time when ecumenical formation is so needed. However, at this point the impact of the work is very limited in numbers. Especially regions in the South wished there could be more Bossey by extension as both lack of funds and distance mean only a few can attend. Concern was expressed that higher academic standards limit who can attend and a few expressed concern that Bossey lectures are now only conducted in English. A number of people asked why WCC's Ecumenical Formation programme and Bossey are not more closely connected.

Team Conclusions

  • Bossey is well known and valued in the constituency and as a result many regions of the world are asking for more Bossey by extension. How to get Bossey outside the walls is a major challenge. This relates to strong appeals for WCC to do more in the area of ecumenical formation and for the WCC Ecumenical Formation programme and Bossey to be more closely linked or merged.

  • Additional challenges include Bossey's vulnerability due to the current arrangements where only one faculty member is funded by WCC and the expressed need for systematic follow up of students from the graduate programme in order to assess long term results.

  • It is very important that Bossey continue to be a place where ‘cutting edge' programmes can take place and seminars focused on WCC initiatives are held.

 

 

 

 

2.3   Dialogue With Neighbours of Other Religions

 

"The inter faith programme is important especially in the perspective of peace and reconciliation."

Main Findings

This programme is designed to promote dialogue between Christians and neighbours of other faiths in a world of religious pluralism. In surveys and interviews this area of work was seen as important by a high percentage of respondents but almost as many said while it is important it also needs to be strengthened and some changes need to be made.

The comments focused on how glad respondents were that WCC is engaged in this work. However in general there seems to be an impression in the constituency that most of the inter religious work is of an academic nature carried on within elitist groups. 

Repeatedly people asked for more emphasis and assistance on how to live together in multi religious contexts and the work staff carried out in Nigeria addressing their context was affirmed. Some thought Asian religions should receive more attention.

 

While acknowledging that WCC has been a pioneer in this field, questions were asked about how the programme was developing to meet new challenges. Some thought it was stagnating and not addressing difficult questions including some of the tough theological issues for the churches. At the same time those involved in the small Thinking Together group, made up of persons from many different religions that meets semi annually, say their discussions have reached new depths on very difficult issues but they wonder how to make their experiences available to others. Several church representatives said their churches were highly suspicious of this work and they want a clear Christological statement in relation to other faiths to come from WCC. Some said we need dialogue with atheists and secularists and humanists as well as with other living faiths

It was suggested there need to be more women involved in this programme as they often bring different perspectives. The WCC "Dignity of Children 1995-2004" report calls on WCC to have an inter-faith approach to children's issues. It was suggested WCC convene a gathering of Inter Faith Officers from churches to learn more about what is happening in the member churches. It was also suggested by several that closer ties be made with the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP). In their report the Joint Working Group (WCC/RCC) identified Inter-Religious work as an item for their future agenda.

Team Conclusions

  • Judging by the high number of affirmations for WCC's involvement in this area of work, this is an important programme and it needs to be strengthened

  • While acknowledging important discoveries are being made in small consultations, the main concerns are how to make the programme more accessible to the constituency by addressing how to live together in multi religious contexts and to tackle the difficult theological issues related to inter religious matters.

  • Member churches that are active in this field desire increased interaction and interest from WCC in the work they are doing.

2.4   Decade to Overcome Violence

 

"This is long term work and the churches have a moral authority to participate in peace and non-violence."

Main Findings

This Decade to Overcome Violence is designed to accompany the constituency, especially the member churches, as they address issues of violence in their various contexts. One of the ways this is done is by providing coordination between the different members of the constituency (member churches, REO's and NCC's) and facilitating linkages beyond the constituency with an organization such as the International Coalition for Peace and Non-Violence. The profile of DOV was high right after Harare, then again with the launch in Berlin in 2001 but things didn't really get underway until, with the help of the Reference Committee, budget and staff became available in 2002. There is heightened awareness of issues of war, violence and security especially since 11 September 2001 and the programme has found a format that is seen as highly relevant, pertinent and significant. 

In both surveys and interviews this programme received very high affirmation. A few said it needs strengthening but it was given a high rating for fulfilling the Harare mandate. Respondents appreciate the methodology being used by asking churches how they are working in this area and sharing the information. Appreciation was expressed for DOV being a clearing house for church initiatives, that can be shared among the different members of the constituency, between those churches already involved in the struggle against violence and those starting to tackle the issue.

The web page is popular and during September leading up to the September 21 Day of Prayer for Peace, there were 240,000 ‘hits'. Many commented upon the usefulness of the study guide for the churches and the grass root groups. It is widely used in six languages and women's groups in particular said they have found it to be highly accessible. There have been DOV launches on each continent, and Asians reported looking forward to a 2005 focus there. The Christian Conference of Asia has laid the groundwork and a coordinator has been named. Churches in the USA picked up the 2004 focus there and Latin Americans spoke of the relevance of DOV for their setting where the focus will be in 2006. DOV has strongholds with many churches and organizations worldwide and is an important part of the International Coalition for Peace and Non-Violence. There has been cooperation with other staff and teams involved in the preparation of the study guide and Bossey seminars. 

Disappointments relate to slowness in getting the programme off the ground, and several European respondents said it hasn't had impact there yet. This may change with a focus year on Europe sometime in the future. The newsletter had to be discontinued due to lack of human resources. 

Team Conclusions

  • This is a ‘light' programme in relation to staff and budget and it has received very high affirmation and ownership from the constituency. An analysis of its success  needs to be done to harvest some of the learnings.

  • There was engagement with the churches from the beginning and the churches were asked to share their concerns and resources and thus WCC has had more of a facilitating role through supporting, encouraging networking and communicating.

2.5   Unity of the Church

"We have been able to bring round the table issues that are deeply dividing"

Main Findings

This programme has responsibility for studies on doctrinal and theological issues related to the division and unity of the church and the programme is intended to engage and assist the churches in addressing these issues. The agenda since Harare encompassed a number of themes but the studies on Baptism and Ecclesiology were the two most often mentioned by respondents. Those who referred to them in surveys and interviews especially highlighted the work on Baptism. Collaboration with Ecumenical Disabilities Advocacy Network to produce a theological statement was also appreciated. Respondents did not mention the other studies that were undertaken on ethnic identity, ecumenical hermeneutics and theological anthropology. 

The theological reflection on peace is new and should enhance the DOV work. Several respondents commented on how much they appreciate the annual resource material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, jointly prepared by the WCC and the Pontifical Council of the Roman Catholic Church.

While many respondents indicated Unity of the Church/Faith and Order is an important part of the WCC, the majority think it should contribute to the theological foundations for other WCC programmes and not be too focused on ‘stand alone' studies. There were suggestions that Unity of the Church/F&O could be of service to the churches by monitoring bilateral conversations and agreements that are going on globally and make such information available. Questions came up concerning consideration of the audience and how accessible the material is. There have been recommendations that the promotion or dissemination of some of the materials could take place at the regional level to assist with the interpretation.

There is need for clarity on appropriateness of the studies being undertaken. This should help address the widespread disagreement among the Commissioners on which of the studies are most critical and pressing and which are secondary, subordinate or perhaps unnecessary. Exchanges included questions as to whether the affluent churches were disproportionately able to influence discussions about Faith and Order programming.

Another challenge for F&O/Unity of the Church is how to maintain on-going world-wide theological dialogue among the churches when the Plenary Commission meets so infrequently, having met only once since 1998. This could raise doubts as to the seriousness of the Council's commitment to Faith and Order. Some of the feedback received points to disappointment in the lack of progress toward the unity of the church and some wonder if the council is giving due priority to the work of F&O.

Team Conclusions

  • Studies on Baptism and Ecclesiology were the ones churches found most useful. 

  • Resources for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are being used by many.

  • Faith and Order/Unity of the Church needs to be more rooted in the life and workings of the church and there should be more links to other programmes in an integrated way. It is important that the WCC deals not only with social and political issues but also with the theological/pastoral issues.

  • Materials produced are not always considered accessible by some parts of the constituency who view it as too ‘eurocentric' and/or the issues addressed are lacking in relevance for their situation.

  • While it is true that there is greater acceptance of one another among the churches now and in many cases friendlier relationships, it was noted there are not so many achievements on "real" issues, e.g. while finding common ground in political and social issues or theological reflection on peace, there are still WCC member churches who re-baptize each others members. In matters of doctrine, churches are still far apart. With the goodwill that exists there is opportunity for Unity of the Church/F&O to be more visible and relevant.

2.6   Ecumenical Advocacy and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts

"Thanks to WCC there is today a contact between the Ogoni people, Shell and the government. Before there was a total disconnectedness of the churches."

Main Findings

This programme is intended to help the churches and ecumenical partners develop a coherent and critical witness on issues of violence, war and conflicts, and human rights within the framework of concern for peace and justice. All of these issues were still high in the agenda for most respondents. Other concerns of the programme relate to security, disarmament and the role of religion in conflicts. It was highlighted that churches need to have a common voice in the world and this has been done through the Churches Commission on International Affairs (CCIA) responsible for this programme. Those more familiar with the work were in general agreement that the mandate given by Harare had been implemented through the directives given by the Central and Executive Committees. This was mentioned particularly in relation to Ecumenical Focus on Africa, which in effect was the secondment of one of the CCIA staff to work in the renewal of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), but also in relation to initiatives related to other burning concerns in Africa.

In addition, the activities of the programme both in the ecumenical and international fields, particularly in the United Nations, were appreciated. The UN, its specialized agencies and other international organizations are seen as important counterparts and there is a general acknowledgment that the churches have to be able to present a united voice of a large part of the Christian world on issues of war and peace, human rights and security. This gives opportunity for being a channel to access the discussions and the advocacy in that arena on issues of disarmament, impunity, globalization and sustainable society. In this sense the strengthening of the UN office in New York was seen as an important step to strengthen the international role of the WCC. The same could be said about the periodically issued Public Statements, which help the constituency better understand the parameters of many conflicts in the world.

One element of interest is that the UN office is consciously linking with the advocacy  issues that presently belong in the areas of other programmes (Ecumenical Advocacy, Diakonia & Solidarity, Ethics of Life and Alternatives to Globalization). It was evident that respondents were also making these links, albeit unconsciously, between the various programmes.

Noted in the whole area of advocacy was that more attention needs to be paid to strengthening the churches in their own advocacy work and becoming a public voice in their own situations. This is not really addressed by the present programme. The lack of resources in this area in the churches from the South is also visible in many international gatherings and the problem was identified as one challenge for the programme's UN Advocacy weeks. On the other hand funding partners and agencies are also playing an advocacy role and the WCC should establish a new strategy to find a place for them.

In their own assessment of this work, the CCIA Commissioners, who are responsible for advising the programme felt that activities already going on should be strengthened, and that new burning issues should be introduced to the Commission's agenda. They chose issues such as: migration, justice and reconciliation, the function of the International Criminal Court, the control of the private lives of citizens, trade and economic justice, globalization, changing society and changing working conditions, although not addressing the issue of where the additional resources would come from. In addition, several of these belong to the mandate of other programme teams. The need for closer working relations between the teams was mentioned both in the jointly held commission meetings of the Churches Commission on International Affairs, Justice Peace Creation and Diakonia and Development and in the constituency at large. They did not address the issue of resources to do this.

Overall, the role that WCC has played through this programme is seen as instrumental in accompanying Churches in difficult situations and the advocacy role being played is highly appreciated and has long standing impact in the image of the Council. The WCC is still known in Latin America for the strong track record in supporting ecumenical institutions dealing with Human Rights issues. The issues of war and peace are fundamental and WCC's stand during the Yugoslav civil war was also appreciated by a part of the constituency. The same could be said with its position and visibility in trying to prevent the Iraq war, and generally in the decades old Middle East conflict. Although with regard to this particular case it was remarked that the WCC's role could also have negative impact in Jewish/Christian relationships.

   

Team Conclusions

·        The work done within this programme is appreciated and speaking with one voice in the international scene on issues of global importance (war, justice issues) is generally seen as an important fundamental function of a global world wide body of churches

·        The traditional methods of working with the international organizations through study, meetings and statements address part of the needs of the constituency, but the need for more capacity, competence and acting together with the new ‘voices' in the field needs more attention in the future, as does enabling churches to speak on their own behalf in given situations.

·         The interlinking of global issues of advocacy need to be addressed in terms of avoiding duplication and ensuring coherence both within WCC and the ecumenical movement at large.

2.7  Ecumenical Focus on Africa

 

"Tremendous work has been done and one of the biggest was helping the All Africa Conference of Churches through a process of renewal, accompanying African churches and supporting many sub-regional and national councils."

 

Main Findings

The 1998 Harare Covenant called upon WCC to accompany the African people on the continent and in diaspora as they renewed their commitment "to reconstruct and rebuild our communities and work tirelessly for a future of Africa full of life and abundance". At the same time the Assembly affirmed the rich cultural and social wealth of the churches in Africa and their wonderful gifts of faith to the global ecumenical family. The areas subsequently identified by the Central Committee for attention under this special focus on Africa were wars, conflict, governance, economic justice, spirituality, ethical values.

This programme was very late getting underway and the reasons for this are not clear. It was to be a house-wide programme and in the past two years, the Africa Task Force [14] has become very much involved. There is also an Africa Peace Monitoring Group among the staff teams that continues to meet. For a short time a staff person was appointed explicitly for coordinating the Focus on Africa and then was moved to staff the regional desk. A member of International Affairs team carries the responsibility of coordination now. There has been good cooperation from other parts of the house for example the "Journey of Hope" consultation, involvement in Zimbabwe and Liberia, a women's team visit to Sudan and an African younger theologians gathering.

Since really getting underway, the main focus has been on strengthening the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC). The Executive Committee of AACC sought assistance from WCC in finding ways to strengthen AACC and the secondment of a staff person by WCC in a leadership role until the election of a new AACC General Secretary took place was deeply appreciated. It is commendable that there was involvement of many different ecumenical organizations in discerning the way forward. It appears there is an excellent mutual relationship between WCC and AACC.

This programme has managed to highlight Africa as a region and kept it up front. Many of the ills continue to plague the region, but there is hope that the strengthening of AACC will also strengthen the voice of the churches in Africa, engage them more in the debate of the future of the continent and enhance the inter-African cooperation. Several European churches said the programme had encouraged them to make links with churches and ecumenical groups in Africa. It was noted that the EHAIA programme mandate also came within the agenda of the special focus on Africa initiative.

Team Conclusions

  • AACC is seen as instrumental in strengthening the voice of African churches and new cooperation among the various ecumenical actors is needed. Hopefully a strengthened AACC can approach some burning issues in the region.

  • Diaspora matters need to be followed up with the US churches that showed interest in this.

  • Analysis needs to be done on why a programme so strongly mandated by the Assembly took so long to get underway.

 

 

2.8   Mission and Evangelism: Promoting the Ministry of Reconciliation

"It is a challenge for our traditional Protestant churches to be losing members while the Pentecostal churches are growing fast."

 

Main Findings

This programme is intended to help the churches gain a deeper understanding of God's mission in the world today and to participate in mission in common witness. It is difficult to speak of this as one programme as it includes work in the areas of Health and Urban Rural Mission as well as the more traditional aspects of common witness and evangelism.

A major emphasis of the work this year has been preparation for the CWME Conference in Athens in May 2005. Concern was expressed about the 9th Assembly on the horizon competing for the attention of the churches as the two major events are within months of each other. An evaluation of the Conference will need to be included in the Harare to Porto Alegre report.

Respondents from every region expressed strong affirmation for the HIV/AIDS work  although they did not connect it to mission and evangelism. Mission and Evangelism specifically was mentioned only a few times by respondents and they expressed concern about the lack of profile for this work. Activities singled out for appreciation were the International Review of Mission publication and Schools of Evangelism held in Africa and Latin America.

There was a difference of opinion about the importance of WCC being involved in this work. Some said it is the responsibility of the individual churches and they are not sure what WCC can and does contribute except possibly to share information. Others said it is a core function of WCC and must be preserved. Some are looking for more emphasis on evangelism and church planting and churches in the north were asking for assistance in addressing their increasingly secular contexts and dwindling church attendance. A study on witnessing in a secular context that may have helped with these matters had to be cut due to lack of resources. However churches in the South and some in Eastern Europe do not seem to make the same programme divisions as the Council does between mission, education and diakonia but rather see them as a whole.

A question was asked about what had happened to the area of Orthodox studies in M&E. Questions were raised about whether URM should continue to be a WCC programme.  Lack of communication and involvement with churches was noted and comment that there seems to be a lack of impact by URM on the life of the churches. 

The CWME (Commission) report October 2004 indicates a number of areas that need to be clarified between the Commission and WCC leadership and governance bodies.

Team Conclusions

  • It is important to remember that the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism includes a constituency wider than WCC membership. This group is responsible for the Conference to be held in Athens in May and an evaluation needs to be included in the final report.

  • It is the HIV/AIDS work in the area of health and healing that is best known in this programme and is appreciated in all regions of the world. An analysis of how this work is being carried out could provide valuable learnings for other programmes.

  • Churches in the South in particular tend to see mission as integrated with education and diakonia and not as something separate. This has implications for how programme work in the Council is thought of, designed and structured.

  • The International Review of Mission and schools of evangelism in Africa and Latin America were affirmed but in general the profile of M&E  is low.

  • URM's impact on the life of the churches needs to be assessed.

  • Both Commission members and staff question how effective the Commission can be if it only meets every 18 months.

2.9   The Challenge of Ecumenical Formation

 

" The test of ecumenical formation isn't on remembering what happened but how you live with other around you and allowing the fellowship to emerge"

Main Findings

This WCC programme is intended to support ecumenical formation both within the churches and the ecumenical movement. Ecumenical formation repeatedly appeared as an expressed need on surveys and in interviews but the responses are lacking in terms of naming key accomplishments. Many asked why this programme is not integrated with Bossey.

Often this programme is ‘hidden' as it supports the work of others such as preparation of the acclaimed DOV study guide and participation in the Journey of Hope in Africa and in Bossey seminars. Recently in response to a request from the agencies and Specialized Ministries, the EF team organized a seminar for their staff focused on ecumenical formation in relation to current issues of interest to funding partners.

The programme has operated with a number of challenges. These included a context of growing denominationalism coupled with major reductions in staffing. A key challenge in Scholarships has been that many donors prefer to focus on development training and this does not always contribute to ecumenical formation. This remains an enduring tension as many parties may not see the difference between ecumenical formation and development education. An external evaluation is underway on the Scholarships part of this programme and is not yet available. Several respondents expressed appreciation for scholarship assistance but did not indicate for what type of programmes the scholarships were used.

A few comments were received in appreciation of theological education, particularly related to women. It was suggested that the role of the theological education by extension consultants be assessed to determine the added value.

Team Conclusions

  • Much of what the Ecumenical Formation programme does continues to show up through their support of other programmes.

  • Ecumenical Formation in the present day context of growing denominationalism will remain a challenge. In order to ensure visibility, there is need for EF to revisit the way they work.

  • The need for Bossey and the Ecumenical Formation programme of WCC to be more integrated is essential.

  • Working with consultants in theological education by extension should be reviewed in order to determine the added value of their work.

 

 

 

2.10     The Ethics of Life and Alternatives to Globalization

 

"Economic Justice is seeing the surfacing of many new alternative movements and WCC is intentionally supporting this work."

 

Main Findings

This programme, often referred to as Justice Peace Creation (JPC), is intended to assist the churches and ecumenical partners and social movements as they deal with ethical issues in many areas including economic globalization, racism, and through aiding the struggles of those who are marginalized. The overall view of this area of work is that the issues are of high importance for many in the constituencies and they have been able to give some follow up to the globalization debates in Harare. They echoed to a large extent the feedback the Commission on Justice and Peace gave.

Especially the subsequent work on economic justice was highly valued both as an issue and programmatically in being able to link with the work in the regions. However, there was also concern expressed that different perspectives needed to be included in the discussion, e.g. finding ways of including European perspectives. 

Similarly, but to a lesser extent the constituency expressed the importance of working with environmental concerns. Two other activities of the programme, the indigenous issue based in Bolivia and EDAN for the disabled based in Kenya were highly appreciated for the content and the networks they provide. To our surprise, the issue of combating racial discrimination where WCC has played a pioneering role, being for many a reference point, was mentioned by very few in the surveys and interviews.

 

Enhancing women's participation and women's work was still considered an important area of work, although often the appreciation was expressed in connection with other programmes. The image and dynamism of the Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women is still impacting the life in the churches and was referred to as having introduced new methods, and been very strategic and political in its approach, permeating the whole programmatic work.

Youth was a concern to many respondents, linked with the concern of ecumenical formation and passing on the torch, but also in finding ways to incorporate their concerns fully and addressing issues with new and innovative methodologies. The image of the council as slow, paper-oriented, and addressing a small group of basically old ecumenical friends were reasons for low interest of youth. This is one of the critical issues to be addressed in the future. It was also noted that youth should not be one programme (actually an activity) but an overarching concern.

 

This area of Justice, Peace, Creation/Ethics of life is the one, together with Ecumenical Advocacy/CCIA and Diakonia and Solidarity where there is a concentration of high expectations for WCC to address global concerns. In addition to economic justice and environment, issues of emigration and the phenomenon of xenophobia, corporate social responsibility and dialogue with multinational corporations, the understanding of the Church in minority situations, the rise of fundamentalism, gender empowerment, strengthening the voices of youth, women, and the elderly and in general more alternatives to Globalization were identified by the Commission as issues for future concern.

Team Conclusions

·        The area of Ethics of Life and Alternatives to Globalization remains important in general and the issue of economic justice has been noted as critical for many in the constituency. The expectations of finding alternatives for globalization seem too vast an agenda to be really carried out and there needs to be a clear priority setting of the content within this major agenda.

·        While it is unavoidable that issues dealing with globalization are by nature highly controversial and imply political choices, there is a need to ensure that all voices are heard in the process of forming policies on these issues.

·        The work of WCC with empowering women has had great impact but it is less clear what the content and achievements of the present programme work are. Paradoxically it may have become victim to its past success as there is higher visibility and more awareness on women's participation in all programmes, making the specificity of this programme less clear. It should also be noted that while participation of women has been important, the gender perspective in a deeper sense remains a broader and more fundamental issue.

·        The overlapping of agendas and connections with other programmes are clear and it is important to look at ways of linking these to have a coherence and division of labour.

·        The participation of youth in all programmes from the design to the implementation needs to become a priority issue in all the work of the council

 

 

2.11     Diakonia and Solidarity

 

"Uprootedness is a diaconial challenge and it needs to be addressed also from a theological and economic point of view, analyzing reasons and consequences."

 

Main Findings

Diakonia and Solidarity is one of the programmes with the most changes and challenges in recent years. The programme itself has inherited the mandate to support churches, NCCs and Ecumenical organizations, both through accompaniment by regional desks and channeling funds. To do this the programme is using many different methods and approaches. It has provided a meeting place for dialogue and resource sharing at Round Tables, Regional Groups and other meetings. The Solidarity visits to the USA and Africa were highly appreciated by many. Many appreciate the development of Strategic Initiative Funds. Round Table sessions have been centres of learning and challenge as have been the capacity building initiatives and many different type of programmes and projects.

While channeling funds used to be one of the biggest functions in this area of work, during the period since Harare, these funds have dropped drastically and have introduced a fundamental question about the nature of this work in the future. In it the programme has clear fundamentals in understanding that its main focus of work goes beyond service to human beings in need to include meaningful engagement with issues of injustice. The issue of relationship is central to D&S work, not only for implementing diaconal work, but also for fostering just relationships within the ecumenical family. This is important as WCC should also address the feeling expressed by some of the respondents that the Special Commission placed too much focus on Koinonia and diverted the Council's focus away from diakonia and prophetic witness.

One instrument to help in this has been the establishment of the Churches Commission on Diakonia and Development to deal with the issue of diakonia and development, with the participation of churches, specialized ministries and ecumenical organizations. It is however important that a process is put in place to ensure that the work of the Commission will permeate to other levels especially in getting in touch with the new generation of ecumenical leadership in the churches. This should include ensuring that the voice of the constituency is clearly heard.

Regional desks play a key role in the execution of the programme. While many appreciate the variety of methods applied by various Regional Desks as they engage with their respective regions, there is also a risk of creating an incoherent image of the programme as a whole. D&S has continued to accompany Regional Groups as they go through a process of evaluation and theological reflections. Through the regional desks there are a lot of useful initiatives in place within the Regions initiated by WCC. However, there is also an element of vulnerability for the Council, when in the region the image of the Council is being identified with one person. The absence of regional strategies and lack of clarity of what the Council wants to do in the different regions institutionally remains an open question for the churches and other members of the ecumenical family, such as regional ecumenical organizations or confessional world bodies. Another key challenge, which WCC and all the REO's have to face, is how to rethink and redefine their relationships. The relationship should not be one of competition as has been observed in some of the Regions but one of mutual support and accompaniment.

The recently completed external reviews of WCC's role in channeling financial support for work in the regions[15] have presented significant challenges. The thinking is that WCC should move to new strategic areas of support and focus on only a few. These will include needs-based initiatives and capacity building needs. Essentially, the Council has to progressively move out of the traditional areas of grant giving to long terms partners. This process is already under way as several of those Specialized Ministries that have used WCC as channel for their funds are opting for bilateral cooperation, with the understanding that WCC still would need to have a role in coordination and facilitation and addressing such overall concerns as capacity building and emerging needs.

The theme of uprootedness remains relevant and WCC has worked very well on this, as a strong advocacy issue.[16] Good cooperation exists between WCC and the Regions and there is a functioning global network. WCC's visibility at the UNHCR has increased and it is recognized as a major player in the field of international refugee protection. The whole area of uprooted issues is highly appreciated by a variety of constituencies.

Overall, this programme received contradictory feedback, It is clear that it has lost  importance in terms of size of funding. Moreover, regret was expressed that the opportunity in relation to the formation of a Global Coalition of Specialized Ministries was missed, although this was also an area of mixed messages. While many still want to see D&S strengthened others saw this as low priority as others are doing many of the functions, such as channeling funds and project management, better than WCC and with more resources. However there seems to be a convergence of the importance of the role WCC plays with and in the regions with the churches, REOs, ecumenical organizations and specialized ministries. This role of facilitation and connecting, and arbitration is recognized as important by all parties.

Team Conclusions

  • Round Tables, Regional groups, solidarity visits, Strategic Initiative Funds and capacity building were affirmed by many.

  • There is expressed need for a unified effort to eradicate poverty and fight social injustices and there are different expectations on how to do this. WCC needs to assess its role and give itself a clear profile in this discussion, including the reconnection of ecumenical diaconal work with local churches.

  • There is need to redefine relationships between WCC and the REOs and other bodies working in the regions. Whilst the relationship between WCC and its constituency, including the Specialized Ministries should be guided by a clear code of conduct on issues related to diakonia and development, the relationship between WCC and the REO should be guided by a clear mandate.

  • There should be a clear and mutually agreed intervention strategy for addressing issues that arise at the REO level and the regional level overall. The varieties of methods utilized by various Regional Desks are appreciated but a clear memorandum of understanding will need to be developed to guide these regional relationships.

  • Regional strategies need to be developed to help position WCC institutionally in a transparent way.

  • Diakonia and Solidarity has been an important way to express solidarity around the world and now changes are needed. Since Harare, there have been shifts in channeling of funds outside WCC, a practice that is likely to continue and calls for a new and changed role of the Council.

  • The elements of this role are linked to accompaniment, capacity building, facilitation and coordination both regionally and globally.

 

2.12     Communicating the Fellowship and Telling the Ecumenical Story

 

"One problem in ownership is the trickling down of information of the programmes and it is important the information reaches the grassroots."

 

Main Findings

In this report Communication encompasses both the Public Information and Publication although they are considered as two separate programmes by the WCC, and are acting as such in addition to giving support to other programmes.

The tasks are multiple, as they are responsible for communicating the programme work to the constituency at large but also to the actors outside the core constituency. They need to address both the informative and public image needs of the Council as well as assisting in some core functions of the council, such as speaking on public issues and advocacy on one hand and some of the more pedagogical or educational functions on the other. In addition they perform functions linked to the internal information management of the house. Hence staff works in Information, Book Production, Visual Arts, Translations, Management of the Archives and the Library.

In this evaluation communication overall is the single most mentioned problem area that impacts all the programme work. Churches and other constituencies have very little knowledge of programmes and the activities or if they do, do not connect them to WCC. There are many reasons for that. The information received is not adequate (too much, too little, audience is often unclear). The one language policy (English) in the production of books, periodicals and other printed material, alienates a great part of the constituency that is not familiar with the English language. Only a very limited part of literature is accessible to non-English speaking partners. In addition, the English is often perceived as being difficult and not accessible for those outside the inner circle. In different instances the importance of having didactically well thought out, short and easily readable material was highlighted.

The use of web based solutions and e-mails in communicating with the constituency is an area where work needs to be done and it is the most divisive. Europe, parts of Asia and Latin America, Africa and North America favour the expansion and use of the electronic media, while many others do not have access to it. However, even those coming from areas with no easy web access pointed out that this is potentially the most important and economical means of communication, enhancing transparency, participation and sharing among the members of the fellowship.

Some of the key events of WCC can be communicated more intensively through the use of visual aids like pictures, stories and anecdotes.

Since the council's internal information management is not developed, there is not really a reliable and quick way to share information within the Council. Rather several attempts in different parts of the council have confused people and make it difficult to track e.g. existing relations and follow-up of the work. Moreover, communication does not seem to be perceived as part of the programme work in the sense that programmes should be designed to be communicative. Programmes, such as EAPPI and DOV, built around communication are successful and appealing and reach the constituency and have potentiality for greater impact.

Communication is not limited to information sharing, as the constituency is also asking to be heard and need to feel that communication is mutual. They also recognize the limitations in their capacities in this area, both in terms of using and disseminating the information coming from the WCC and in giving feedback.

The critique of incoherence, non-targeted information on one hand and the need to have clear and accessible messages from the Council on the other hand are indicative of deeper problems that relate to the way the programmes are structured as rather autonomous entities with each one deciding on the way they relate to the constituency.

Team Conclusions

  • The area of communication is one that the constituency sees as crucial in strengthening the connection between the different members of the fellowship.

  • Creative ways of using new information technologies are clearly an area to be developed, with the understanding that this will need to be accompanied by building capacities with those who cannot currently access it.

  • It is recognized the WCC should review its overall communication strategy. Only with a clear communication strategy can the WCC raise the interest of its member churches, of the funding partners, as well as of the church and secular media.

  • Language policy needs revision.

  • All programme work needs to include communication as one of the core elements of the programmes

  • Communication is essentially an art and the Council has to engage in a constant search for creative ways of attracting and maintaining attention.

 

2.13     Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)

 

"The worsening situation in the Middle East is a concern and the Ecumenical Accompaniment programme has demonstrated a real ability to change when needs emerge."

Main Findings

This autonomous, light and flexible ecumenical initiative linked to the Ecumenical Advocacy programme and the CCIA, is owned both by the WCC and by a number of active ecumenical partners from Europe and North America and appreciated by the larger constituency. It is a typical advocacy programme, in its strong public image, creating networks, documenting and reporting abuses, yet offering very practical involvement for partners by preparing and sending volunteers who become communicators themselves. It should be noted that this initiative has an articulated communication policy, uncommon in other programs.

On the ground in Israel/Palestine the main purpose of the volunteers is to accompany people in a severe conflict situation and ensure some protection to vulnerable civilians. As an interviewee remarked, EAPPI is an example of ways to enact non violence and promote peaceful resolution of conflicts. From this perspective it is in a way closely related to DOV.

From a Middle Eastern perspective EAPPI is potentially very important. But there was concern expressed that the program is better known elsewhere and people in the region know very little about it. It is important therefore to make it widely known in the churches and beyond in the Middle East so that people, Christians and Muslims alike, be informed about what the WCC is trying to do for peace and justice in Palestine.

From a global perspective it is an expression of the solidarity of the fellowship to a particular region and churches and people in a very vulnerable situation. While this was recognized as important for many people, there was also concern expressed about the relationship with the dialogue with the Jewish people as the participation of the Jewish people in the initiative was not known. 

The program has a certain financial and human vulnerability, due to its location/regional specificity on one hand and the competition in the advocacy field on the other hand. EAPPI will be evaluated within the first part of 2005 and hopefully some findings can be incorporated in the final report.

Team Conclusions

  • EAPPI was mentioned when people identified programs with impact, while recognizing that this was limited in scope. The careful communication linked with a possibility of involvement of the constituency was clearly an aspect that appealed to people.

  • The comments related to Christian-Jewish relations clearly point out the importance of carefully assessing the indirect impacts of given programs as is the importance of anchoring such initiatives theologically.

  • This type of pilot joint venture, should be assessed carefully to see to what extent it can be successfully experimented with in other parts of the world, where similar cases occur.

2.14     Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa

 

"HIV/AIDS is perhaps the biggest ecumenical opportunity in our time"

Main Findings

This programme is aimed at helping churches and ecumenical partners in Africa increase their understanding of the severity of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to respond collaboratively to address the challenges. Respondents have mentioned significant accomplishments in assisting Africa to develop a collective strategy to mobilize the moral and material resources to respond to the pandemic.

EHAIA has fostered a global partnership in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic whilst at the same time challenging the various actors to engage in local fund raising. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has provided a new Kairos for the African Churches. They have come together, spoken in unison and come face to face with the mirror of truth regarding the pandemic. It is clear that the fight against the pandemic needs a multidimensional approach.

EHAIA is contributing to culture change in churches in terms of how persons living with HIV/AIDS are viewed and has strengthened the technical understanding of HIV/AIDS in the churches. It primarily targets the church leader and the Global Consultation of African Church leaders held in November 2001 was significant. It gave confidence to many church leaders to speak openly and authoritatively about difficult issues relating to discrimination and sexuality.

The recently completed external evaluation of EHAIA points to appreciation of good quality of work, but the initiative runs the risk of being spread too thinly. The report has surfaced significant structural and relational issues between the WCC and AACC that need to be addressed. All Regions should see it not just as a project for Africa, but an opportunity for WCC to engage in resource mobilization globally and as an instrument for learning and consolidated action.

Team Conclusions

  • The recent external evaluation points to good quality work and notes EHAIA has contributed to changing the culture in churches relative to HIV/AIDS issues.

  • There should be a mapping within the member churches and Councils of Churches to identify what advocacy strategies exist.

  • Local avenues for mobilizing resources should be pursued. This should include the search for new methods of care and preventive measures that are based on the use of local resources. The salvation will not come from outside but from within Africa.

  • The results of the evaluation point to the need for churches to be facilitated to approach non-traditional sources of funding.

  • The plans to bring the AACC HIV/AIDS Coordinator as a full time team coordinator of EHAIA is key.

Part 3:  Overall Assessment of Programmes and Recommendations

3.1 Overall Assessment of Programme Work 

While our team has recognized limitations in this evaluation process, this assessment of WCC programmes has brought significant information from the constituency about the image of WCC, the reception of its programmes, the issues that are most pressing for them and the methodologies that they found most useful. Many who responded applauded WCC for undertaking such an exercise and it was seen as a desire on the part of the Council to be transparent and to seek improvements in a number of areas. Our team acknowledges the active and self critical participation of the Leadership Group and Programme Staff Teams in this endeavour.

 

Our analysis of the results in surveys and interviews points to the need for new and different ways of thinking and structuring the programme work. There needs to be a clearly stated vision that would be the key element in shaping the programme work. The image of WCC is blurred. It was surprising to learn that although the Common Understanding and Vision (CUV) is referred to by WCC as the guiding vision, for most of the respondents CUV was either unknown or has remained a historical document. 

At present, given the lack of systematic planning, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, unclear or too general objectives, indicators and specific follow-up, it is difficult to assess the lasting and significant impact of particular programmes

With some notable exceptions [17] the programme work at present is perceived as having limited relevance and impact and hence has limited ownership in the constituency.

Those programmes identified as being most relevant and significant with the highest ownership by the churches are ones where the issues being addressed are timely. Critical issues mentioned by the constituency most frequently were building the fellowship of churches both within and beyond the present constituency of WCC, overcoming violence in its different forms, globalization and especially economic justice, ecumenical formation and HIV/Aids. Communication and effective and efficient management were also seen as critical to a successful programme work. There was a general knowledge that WCC was addressing many of these issues such as violence, economic injustice, HIV/AIDS, inter religious matters and church unity but very few could name specific programmes mandated by the Harare Assembly or mention their specific goals and achievements. The programmes most often commended were also those where they had been able to interconnect with regional, national or local initiatives. Some of these were regionally based and some had very light structure.

While we have mentioned some of the elements that seem to contribute to the success of certain programmes, a more thorough analysis would be needed to ascertain why certain programmes have resulted in impact and ownership by the constituency. This could yield significant learnings.

An important element of the programme work is the way it contributes to the growing and deepening of the fellowship or is counterproductive to that. This is rarely mentioned or documented in the programmes and would need to receive more attention.

With this in mind a flexible programme structure is needed to address the rapidly changing environment. This includes a transparent and accountable way to initiate, reformulate and terminate programmes. WCC will need to play many different roles in the programme work such as facilitating, coordinating, convening, connecting, listening, accompanying and capacity building. The classical programme divisions still found in the Council do not resonate with many churches especially in the South who want WCC to accompany them in mission, education and diakonia in an integral way as they themselves do. The constituency recognizes at present core functions that the whole fellowship needs to address globally and some critical issues have been highlighted above.

Building and nurturing relationships and communication were identified as key elements that must be attended to in all the programmes to overcome the distance between the constituency and the WCC. Language appeared frequently as a limiting factor in utilizing resources, due to the predominant use of English as well as what is referred to as ‘eurocentric' language and methodologies.

Many who responded were aware of the reduction in human and financial resources the Council had experienced during the period being evaluated and especially in the past two years and there was wide acknowledgment of the dedication of the staff. Repeatedly there was an appeal for WCC in the light of funding realities to do less and do it well and to set priorities based on key criteria and to have more realistic and achievable goals. This underlies the importance of the filtering and focusing functions of the Central Committee when deciding on the programmes and division of labour within wider goals. It is essential that adequate Programme Guidelines be given to the 9th Assembly in order for the Council to have an achievable and appropriate set of programme initiatives for the next period following the 9th assembly. 

In summary this evaluation points to the need for WCC to build its programme work around five core functions. Throughout the report we have stated the need for good foundational study and theological grounding for the work undertaken; the importance of advocacy work that enables the prophetic voice of the churches to be heard; the expressed need of the constituency for capacity building; and repeatedly the need for the Council to build and nurture relationships with and between the churches and the wider constituency. The Council must wisely and carefully steward the human, financial and physical resources that have been entrusted to it. All this needs to be communicated in a timely and imaginative way.

A number of management issues identified at the mid -term evaluation in 2002 have not been addressed although some are in process. Speedy execution of the Mid-term evaluation management concerns is key in laying the foundation for implementing the findings and recommendations of this Pre-Assembly report. A separate report has been provided to the Staff Leadership Group to facilitate them in ensuring that there is satisfactory follow up of the issues raised.

There is a need for the Council to continue to cultivate a supportive working culture that facilitates inter team learning and results in concrete and visible impact. While the work requires a certain amount of individual initiative, there is a negative side to individualism that can result in a culture of survival and protectionism and this needs to be monitored by the leadership. The cross program cooperation/fertilization still needs to be strengthened although there has been noticeable improvement in this area since Harare.

Central to this working culture will be the need for the Leadership Group to ensure that Team Coordinators have the confidence to discharge their mandate with clearly delegated authority. In addition to team coordination and supervision, Team Coordinators are currently carrying responsibility for specific programme portfolios and the impact needs to be assessed. Similarly, the role of many Administrative Assistants who are de facto executing program functions at present needs to be reviewed and recognized accordingly.

Essentially, review of staff functions will need to go beyond the administration functions and cover all cadre of staff. More cost-efficient ways of doing work have to be sought. There is need for a new working culture which recognizes and rewards sufficiently qualified persons to manage the organization at both programme and leadership levels. In summary, a culture of transformation needs to be embraced by the staff and the constituency. Such a renewal has to address fundamental issues in the culture of the organization in its ways of thinking, acting and relating.

3.2    Recommended Programme Guidelines for the Assembly

3.2.1        The present programme framework be terminated in the Assembly 2006 and a new suggested framework be adopted (see 3.3 of this report). Consequently all present programmes should either be phased out, reaffirmed or reshaped in 2006 and the first half of 2007.

3.2.2        (Re)state the overall vision for the programme work of the Council

3.2.3        Affirm that the new or reaffirmed programmes are in line with the emerging role of WCC as affirmed by the Assembly and guided by the constitutional mandate and the stated vision.

3.2.4        Build programmes around 5 core functions based on the emerging role of the global body and guided by its constitutional mandate and vision:

-         Deepening the Fellowship through clear theological foundation (study and reflection)

-         Enhancing the prophetic Voice of the Church (advocacy)

-         Accompanying the Constituency (capacity building and support to strengthen churches in areas of strategic importance)

-         Listening to the Constituency (nurturing relationships to members churches and the larger constituency within the CUV vision)

-         Stewarding the Council Resources (seeing the human, financial and physical resources as an integral part of any successful programme work)

3.2.5        Clearly define issues that are a) long term nature b) time bound and specific/urgent.

3.2.6        Make documented choice about priorities based on

-         core competence

-         listening to constituency

-         what is best done globally

-         funding realities.

3.2.7        Build in a clear exit strategy - plan phasing out/reconfiguring/reshaping in all programme designs

3.2.8        Build a clear, well-functioning Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism that is principally a tool for joint learning, self-analysis, reflection and improvement and make sure each individual  programme is evaluated externally at least once during the period of implementation

3.2.9        Make sure that there is a communication strategy developed relative to each programme and carried out in the various constituencies.

3.2.10    Make it a priority to involve the constituency in various phases of the programme design in order to increase ownership, commitment and effectiveness.

(See Framework Diagram)

 

ANNEX 1: Information Gathering

General questionnaires, adapted to each target group, were sent to all WCC member churches, Central Committee members, National Councils of Churches and Commission and Advisory groups and Specialized ministries. The evaluation team received 131 responses: 13 from Africa, 25 from Asia, 3 from Caribbean, 46 from Europe, 7 from Latin America, 3 from Middle East, 20 from North America, 11 from the Pacific and 3 global or not known.  More than half (72) came from the questionnaires for Church Leadership or Central Committee, roughly 25 % from Commission and Advisory groups. The rest came equally from National Councils of Churches and Specialized ministries. All questions from the different surveys were used to construct a master spreadsheet into which all responses were entered unchanged as the surveys were returned.  For questions that could be quantified, parameters were assigned to create a basis for any future numerical analysis. 

The analysis of those who responded was conducted to determine percentages of responses represented in the analysis by region, questionnaire type and Commission/Advisory group. 

The analysis of responses was conducted to find trends: overall, by region, and by orthodox/non-orthodox.  Where possible, basic statistical analysis was used to create graphs to better visualize these trends.  Key trends and points raised were summarized, so that improvements could be made for the final analysis, and results incorporated into the interview component of the evaluation.  Additional reactions from respondents made it also possible to see the problem areas and clarify and guide the interviewing process, helping to draft interview worksheets and focus questions and address the "silence" in some regions. Comments on the nature of questions (lacking background information, way of addressing issues involved, superficiality/depths of questions) were also taken into consideration. All this formed the general background to orient the main information input from the interviews.

The interviews mainly took place between August and November 2004, with a few exceptions in early December when the majority of the input from Latin America was gathered. All interviews had the same basic background material, same set of questions and the same format in reporting. Each individual interview was transcribed and shared with the whole team in confidence.

The persons interviewed were chosen collectively after the first indications of the survey results. The categories interviewed and the division of the regional and confessional balances were done in light of trying to compensate some problematic areas of the surveys and ensuring a balance between people related to specific programmes and people who were chosen to represent the "average" member church. Another conscious choice was to interview mostly people who had not answered the survey and test the differences and initial findings in this way. The group of specialized ministries was an exception, as they were the most active group to respond to the survey and willing to be interviewed.

Altogether 59 interviews were conducted, out which 4 were collective with more than 3 people. Those interviewed were church leaders, people related to specific programs, NCCs, REOs, CWCs, and specialized ministries. The understanding of constituency was interpreted widely. The division by regions was 11 Africa, 7 Asia (incl. one collective), 3 Caribbean, 14 Europe, 4 Global, 6 Latin America (incl. one collective), 2 Middle East, 11 North America (incl. one collective) and one collective in Pacific. Altogether more than 70 people were consulted during the interview process. Most of the interviews were done by phone. In addition, several Commission meetings, advisory groups and other relevant meeting were attended and relevant discussions reported to the team in written form. This was especially important for assessing the general context.

In addition, the team had the advantage of being able to use the material and mapping of the reconfiguration process, some individual programme/programme activity evaluations, self-evaluations and reports from Commissions and advisory groups, and a number of programme documents.

ANNEX  2           Glossary

AACC             All Africa Conference of Churches

ACT                Action of Churches Together

CC                  Central Committee

CUV               Common Understanding and Vision

CWC              Christian World Communions

CWME           Commission on World Mission and Evangelism

D&D               Diakonia and Development

D&S                Diakonia and Solidarity

DOV               Decade to Overcome Violence

EAA                Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

EAPPI             Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel

EDAN             Ecumenical Disabilities Advocacy Network

EF                   Ecumenical Formation

EHAIA            Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa

F&O               Faith and Order

IRRD               Inter Religious Relations and Dialogue

JWG                Joint Working Group (WCC & the Roman Catholic Church)

M&E               Mission and Evangelism

NCC               National Council of Churches

PME                Planning Monitoring and Evaluating

RCC                Roman Catholic Church

REO                Regional Ecumenical Organization

SM                  Specialized Ministries

UNHCR          United Nations High Commission on Refugees

URM               Urban Rural Mission

WCRP            World Conference on Religion and Peace



[1] Items in bold italic quotations throughout the report are taken from interviews carried out by the team for this Pre Assembly Evaluation

[2] Two global reconfiguration meetings, held November 2003 and December 2004, brought together ecumenical partners to discuss a possible new configuration of the ecumenical movement. The second gathering was titled "Ecumenism in the 21st Century". 

[3] Our team has understood the term constituency in a wide sense in the spirit of the CUV. While the major emphasis was on member churches, the information gathering also encompassed NCCs, members of commissions and advisory groups some of whom were not from member churches,  CWCs, REOs.  

[4] Currently there are six Commissions: Faith and Order, World Mission and Evangelism, Churches Commission on International Affairs, Education and Ecumenical Formation, Justice Peace and Creation, and Churches Commission on Diakonia and Development. DOV has a Reference Group; Bossey a Board and Communications an Advisory body. 

 

[5] The Staff Leadership Group is composed of the General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary, Director of Programmes, Director of Management and the Executive Secretary in the General Secretariat.

 

[6] See Working Together Making a Difference WCC Programme document

[7] For example HIV/AIDS is an activity of the Mission and Evangelism programme.

[8]  See 2002 Mid Term Evaluation sections 3.1 and 3.2

[9]  Governing bodies: Central Committee on the advice of its Programme Committee has responsibility to initiate and terminate programmes. The Executive Committee is responsible for monitoring programmes and activities.

[10] CUV is a policy statement adopted by the Central Committee in 1997. 

[11] Two global reconfiguration meetings, held November 2003 and December 2004, brought together ecumenical partners to discuss a possible new configuration of the ecumenical movement. The second gathering was titled "Ecumenism in the 21st Century". 

 

[12] Strategic Initiatives Fund review 2003 and Multilateral Sharing review 2004

[13] Programme titles, descriptions and the order in which they appear in our report relate to the Working  Together , Making a Difference WCC programmes summary document.

[14] The Africa Task Force is composed of WCC staff of African descent that are members of various staff teams in the house.

[15] Strategic Initiatives Fund Review 2003 and Multilateral Sharing Review 2004 and neither of these were able to assess the impact of those instruments.

[16] Until 2003 this was the mandate of CCIA

[17] See sections 1.2 and 1.3 and individual programme assessments in Part 2 of this report for details.