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PLEN 1 Plenary on Pacific

22 February 2005

The Pacific Plenary will present the call of the Pacific churches for the ecumenical movement to acknowledge our common vulnerability and accountability and thus to underline the importance of ecumenical solidarity in these crucial times. The Pacific Plenary will present cases where the Pacific churches as well as other ecumenical organisations are engaged in healing and reconciliation processes in their communities and in their contexts. The Pacific member churches contribute to the efforts of the WCC and of other ecumenical bodies to address issues of global concern, and to ensure that their people may live life to the fullest. Despite the distances that separate us from the rest of the world, the Pacific region witnesses the growing problems faced at a global level.

Over the last decade, the Pacific region has seen conflicts of all types ranging from the Bougainvillian Crisis over the exploitation of natural resources, to the military coups in Fiji, passing by the ethnic conflicts in the Solomon Islands to the recent passing of legislature severely restricting the freedom of the press by the Tongan government. All of these conflicts seem foreign to the Pacific way of life and churches have done a lot in seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis with mitigated results.

The Pacific region also stands to be the most affected by the consequences of climate change. Many of the low lying island countries currently suffer from a rise of the seas, the rise in the salinity of the water tables, the increasing erosion of islands and many more dangers. It has reached a critical point whereby island countries such as Tuvalu are seeking agreements with other Pacific countries to allow its population to migrate to uninhabited islands.

The struggle for self-determination is still a priority for churches and people of New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Support from the ecumenical family needs to continue to enable these peoples and their respective churches to seek what is best for their own future. One of the important efforts of the WCC Office in the Pacific is the support of the campaign for the compensation for the victims of nuclear testing in the Pacific. This campaign, spearheaded by the Moruroa e Tatou Association in French Polynesia, coupled with the work of the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre remains a priority for the WCC in the region.

The Pacific churches seek the wisdom of the ecumenical family to accompany and help them with this important responsibility. A call for ecumenical solidarity will therefore be at the centre of the Pacific plenary.

Main Objectives

Based on a regional context where the Pacific Churches are confronted with the impact of climate change, HIV/AIDS and the remnants of nuclear testing in the Pacific, the Plenary will engage the central committee:

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To reflect on our common vulnerability and being accountable to each other as members of the ecumenical movement.

To listen to a Pacific perspective of the Church facing the hard realities and striving to become a healing and reconciling community.

To respond to the challenges to be in solidarity with the Pacific churches.

Methodology

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The plenary will begin with a traditional opening act and will be followed by:

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Power-point presentations on the issues by the Central Committee members from the Pacific

Group discussions on the call to be vulnerable and accountable as churches

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The call for solidarity by Bishop