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Report of the General Secretary

To the WCC Central Committee

20 February 2008

WCC Central Committee meeting

The worst thing that could happen to the council would be that it should come to be considered as just another cog in the ecclesiastical machinery. My role was not to invent brand new ideas, but to discover the most forward-looking initiatives in the life of the churches and to seek to make them fruitful in the whole ecumenical family…one had to prove again and again, through the qualitative work of the council, that it was truly worthwhile for the churches to give their full support.

W.A. Visser 't Hooft, Memoirs, Geneva: WCC, 1973, p 345

I.  The role of the WCC in a rapidly changing ecclesial context

A. Sharing our hopes and anxieties

1. What are your hopes for your church?  What are your fears and anxieties?
Everything we do as the World Council of Churches needs to start from the reality of the member churches; from your concerns for the present situation and the future of your church.  The WCC is vital and relevant as it is a meeting place for the member churches to share their hopes and anxieties and to grow in their fellowship towards visible unity.  As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the World Council of Churches, we have good reason to remind ourselves of this primary purpose of the WCC.

2. One of my responsibilities as general secretary is to maintain close contacts with the churches through correspondence and, even more effectively, through visits.  In the last four years, I have visited churches in all the regions. I consider my time with church leaders and ordinary Christians alike as opportunities for listening to their concerns, their joys and fears, their challenges and opportunities.  But it is also a time for me to rekindle the enthusiasm of the church leaders for the work of the WCC and the ecumenical movement in general, and to spread ecumenical friendship to and among churches.

3. During such visits I have seen hopeful signs for the future of the church, e.g. in India where I visited in February 2007.  As churches joined the rest of the communities in celebrating the 60th anniversary of India's political independence, the challenge was how to be the church in a nation that has been through a complex process of change.  Despite the obstacles of poverty and violence, casteism and fundamentalism of many sorts, India has become a major global player, a visible and vibrant democracy with all its manifold diversities.  Yet, the majority of the Indian people still experience a life of powerlessness and deprivation.  The churches see themselves as inspiring some hope by holding up the oikoumene as an alternative community.  At the Maramon Convention of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, I experienced koinonia, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  The convention, held once every year, is an exciting combination of a revival meeting, a family reunion, an educational opportunity, a spiritual retreat and a platform for launching future initiatives in the mission and witness of the church.  Honest engagement, of the sort we find at the Maramon Convention, is the biblical means towards the realization of a just and compassionate community.

4. I have also seen churches in other situations of suffering, where their hope in Christ is put to the test, where they are struggling with situations of conflict and war, of poverty, disease and despair.

When I went to the Philippines in November last year, I joined the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Filipino Independent Church, a member of the WCC) in a commemorative service for the late Most Rev. Alberto Ramento, where I delivered a sermon under the theme "Do not be afraid".  Bishop Ramento was brutally murdered in October 2006.  It was one of those extra-judicial killings that have become all too common in the Philippines.  Bishop Ramento was respected as a prophetic pastor who embodied the ecumenical vision that seeks peace and justice, reconciliation and healing.  He was the epitome of a true teacher and defender of the Christian faith - a faith that urged him to speak boldly in times of human misery, testify to the hope that is in Christ and inspire the people for human dignity and the preservation of the integrity of God's creation.  The Iglesia Filipina Independiente, along with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and some other churches, has lived up to the call of the gospel of Christ.  Its motivation for justice and peace comes from the tradition derived from the biblical faith - a tradition of God's option for the victims of power, the prophetic condemnation of injustice, and Jesus' rejection of abusive power.  But that is one side of the church in the Philippines.  Sadly, there are also church leaders and Christians who have been compromised by the powers that be and have betrayed both the gospel and the people.  Rather than stand for justice and advocate for a life in dignity for all the people, they have allowed themselves to be used to render legitimacy to the practices of those who abuse and misuse power against the very people they pretend to represent.

5. Given the realities of our world today, we find ourselves called to accompany churches and people who are in situations of distress and affliction.  My own country, Kenya, has been thrust into such a situation even as I write this report.  The aftermath of the fiercely contested results of the presidential elections of 27 December 2007 has seen the kind of violence that, if not averted in time, could threaten to tear the country apart.  It even could degenerate into a civil war.  Through two public statements the WCC has joined the voices, both local and international, calling for an end to the violence and for a political solution that starts with dialogue between the principal protagonists.  We have addressed our message to the Kenyan churches assuring them of our prayerful support.  To translate our prayers into concrete expressions of solidarity, we sent a 12-person strong Living Letters delegation composed of brothers and sisters from different parts of the world.  The churches need the encouragement, and even the challenge, from the ecumenical community.  At a time of dire need for a ministry of reconciliation and healing, many Kenyan church leaders are polarized along ethnic and political lines, making their voice less credible and limiting their ability to claim a moral high ground.  Our central committee member from Kenya, Dr Agnes Abuom, is doing a commendable job of promoting platforms for church leaders to talk and endeavour to rise above ethnic and political partisanship.  Through her consultancy services she has also accompanied many who have been traumatized and shocked.

6. What Kenya is going through is not unique to that country, and it severely tests the notion of elections as a panacea for democracy and good governance.  In the case of Kenya, there are issues that, for a long time, have been lurking below the surface, ready to boil over at a moment's provocation.  There are historical, political, constitutional, electoral, ethnic and land issues which tend to surface every five years at the time of elections.  So far, politicians have managed to arrive at some convenient political arrangements, leaving the problem unresolved.  For a durable solution to be had, the problem must be named for what it is.  The churches must rise to the occasion and, having overcome their own prejudices, help the country to arrive at a comprehensive, just and lasting solution.  To that end the WCC must be prepared to walk with the Kenyan churches and the Kenyan people for the long haul.

7. In December 2007 participating in a three-day retreat of the heads of US member churches was for me spiritually inspiring and energizing - a rare moment indeed, since it did not involve delivering speeches, preaching or discussing issues.  In a real sense, it was a retreat from the busyness that characterizes the rhythm of life of chief executives.  Spending a whole day in silence helped me to rediscover how aloneness is the other side of the uniqueness of every individual.  Our aloneness leads us into solitude.  To me, the retreat was a powerful reminder that solitude is essential for our spiritual life.  Sharing the experience of each other's aloneness and solitude deepened our fellowship and strengthened our community.  This is a richness only churches and ecumenical communities can offer - a precious gift in our spiritual journey and one to cherish at all times.

8. The World Council of Churches has a future as the place where we can share our hopes and anxieties, where we can accompany and support each other in our common witness to the world, and where churches live out the fellowship to which they are called by our Lord Jesus Christ.

By doing this together, the member churches are moving towards the unity that is already given in Christ.  It is a meaningful coincidence that we celebrate in this year not only the 60th anniversary of the WCC, but also the centennial of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Christ wants us to be one.  The search for the visible unity draws us closer to each other and guides our common witness to the world.  It motivates us to stand together and to pray that God, in his grace, may transform us and this world  so that God's own purpose will prevail.

B. Common challenges

9. Through their worldwide fellowship, member churches can address common challenges they are facing - challenges posed by the world, but also by a changing ecclesial landscape.

In my reports to the assembly and the central committee, I have frequently spoken to the consequences of globalization for all spheres of life.  I have pointed to poverty, environmental destruction, increasing violence, and the HIV and AIDS pandemic as common threats to life that indeed concern all of humanity.  In some places, religious tensions have become a matter of survival and peace.  We now have to not only strengthen our common witness, but also to develop the capacity to live as neighbours in the context of religious plurality.  I have made sure that the WCC secretariat supports member churches in their engagement with these common challenges that affect all humanity and the future of life on our planet.

10. On various occasions I have also highlighted the observable shift of world Christianity towards the South and the East.  The impact of this shift on the ecumenical movement and its organizations can already be seen.  But the growing number of Christians in the South and the East by no means implies that church life in the traditional centres of Christianity would be stagnant or declining.  There are also encouraging signs of renewal in North America and in Europe.  Between Christmas and New Year's eve, Geneva was the host to about 40,000 young people from all over Europe who were brought together by the Taizé community.  These were young committed Christians who will share with their families, friends and communities at home the spiritual experience of this week in Calvin's city and thus announce the good news of the gospel all over the continent.

11. Another force of renewal are the many migrant communities and congregations.  Migration is changing the face of Christianity in many places.  I focused on this fact in my last report to the central committee.  Almost everywhere in the world, we need to rethink what it means to be the church locally and globally in the present context.

C. The "Re-shaping of Christianity"

12. Today I want to concentrate on another, but closely related facet, of the changing ecclesial landscape. Many of the member churches are struggling with the speed and scope of the growth of Evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic communities, and also of non-denominational congregations and mega-churches.  The realities around the churches, the forms of social organization, and the ways in which faith is expressed and incarnated in daily life are changing.

13. It is an interesting fact that "all the Christian denominations and para-churches that have grown rapidly since World War II display striking similarities to transnational business corporations."[1] I am quoting here from a very comprehensive and very detailed study on the process of change, which is described even in the title of the book as the "Re-shaping of Christianity in the context of globalization".  It is a very carefully designed study on the situation of churches in the Pacific.  The Pacific region lead-editor of the study, Prof. Manfred Ernst of the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji, sees this "as a sort of microcosm in which one can encounter all the worldwide trends and changes in religious affiliation."[2]

14. The book is based on case studies on the situation in all Pacific island nations.  The study reinforces Peter L. Berger's argument that "evangelical Protestantism, especially in its Pentecostal version, is the most popular movement serving as vehicle of cultural globalization.[3]"  It is sustained by the outreach of global media and the intensive use of television and radio programmes.

15. The research data of this study supports the works of David Martin, Harvey Cox and Karla Poewe[4] who have shown how new religious groups trigger a deep process of cultural and social change.  Manfred Ernst underlines that the "research data presented in our detailed country case studies…support the hypothesis that conversion to a certain type of Christianity transforms people's attitudes to family, sexual behaviour, child rearing, work and household economics.  It can be argued that the recently arrived type of religion in its Pentecostal, neo-Pentecostal, evangelical-fundamentalist form promotes…an attitude and morality singularly appropriate for people seeking to progress in the blossoming and dominant stage of current global capitalism.[5]"  This is the context in which these new movements surface and grow all around the world, even in countries with dominant Orthodox or Roman Catholic populations.

16. Growth of these new expressions of Christian faith happens to a large extent at the expense of traditional churches.  Indeed only a smaller proportion of their growth is due to new conversions.  Proselytism is an issue that needs to be addressed.  Some neo-Pentecostal movements even target older Pentecostal mission churches such as the Assemblies of God in search of new members.  Such practices suggest that there are limits to the impressive growth figures that we have seen in the past.  Data of the Pacific study indicate that the figures most often quoted to describe global trends in Christianity by David Barrett, George T. Kurian and Todd M. Johnson need to be looked at more critically.  The figures tend to be much lower than the official census data for the historic mainline churches and to be exaggerated for the numbers of Pentecostal-charismatic denominations.[6]

17. The process of change is not linear.  It is as dynamic, complex and inter-active as any major cultural shift in the past:  parallel to globalization, the process seems to foster an Americanization of global Christianity since the songs, worship patterns and attitudes of Evangelical and Pentecostal communities follow a basically US-American model. But there are also signs of growing discontent with North American dominance among Evangelicals and Pentecostals in Latin America, Asia and Africa.  Second and third generation Pentecostals see the need to be much more rooted in the social and cultural realties of their individual countries and regions.  Parallel to the homogenization of global cultural trends, charismatic or Pentecostal spirituality are also increasingly influencing traditional main-line churches in many countries of the South.  While some see this as a threat, it is also an expression of a very interesting process of adaptation and adjustment of mainline churches that might even curb the growth of the new movements.  Churches that have given space to charismatic movements and Pentecostal worship patterns in their own denominations show more stable figures[7].  There are also clear parallels among the churches to new politics of identity in defence against globalizing powers, which mark the present cultural, social and political context in many places of the world.  Fragmentation of communities on the one hand and new coalitions around ethical concerns across traditional cultural and religious boundaries on the other are motivated by the consequences of the double edged face of the historic process of globalization.  Societies and groups based on traditional community values see themselves under strong pressure.  The divisive debate on moral values reflects resistance against the strong individualism, indifference or the "anything goes" mentality of market driven post-modernism and the hegemony of Western neo-liberal values, which are supported by the economic, political, media and military power of North America and the European Union.  In a very similar way growing fundamentalism, diverging visions, and profound differences in reading the signs of the times also affect the fellowship of churches. Among churches new alliances concerning moral values are emerging.  Profound ecclesiological differences that were important enough to slow down ecumenical co-operation in the past seem to be irrelevant in this context.  This situation is clearly captured in statements that we are to choose between "truth" and "unity".  But is this the right alternative?  We have struggled in the past not to separate these two aspects of the gospel, but to insist on the creative tension between ecclesiology and ethics, unity and truth.

18. I am convinced that there are other signs that show new avenues for greater co-operation despite the existing conflicts and tensions.  In many places of the world today, Evangelicals and Pentecostal churches show more interest and involvement in social and ecological concerns than many would expect. The critique of the "social gospel" was at the origin of the rejection of the ecumenical movement by Evangelicals and Pentecostals.  Today, Evangelicals and new emerging churches in the USA are engaged in the fight against poverty through the "Micah challenge" and a number of US American Evangelical leaders are questioning the position of the US government on the issue of climate change.  New bridges are being built across the old divide.

19. In some cases the boundaries we usually draw between mutually committed conciliar ecumenism and forms of co-operation between churches based on participation and common interest on a limited number of issues are also blurred.  The Churches of Christ Together in the USA is still struggling with this distinction, while other models are emerging in Norway and Sweden or in Malaysia.  In many places around the world, new forms of co-operation are developing between member churches of the WCC and other churches and Christian communities that are not part of our fellowship.

20. It has been one of the most interesting tasks of the WCC in recent years to facilitate spaces for the wider community to meet, to encounter each other, and to journey together although the goal of such a common journey is not yet clearly set and agreed upon.  The WCC has played such a role already in the past with other bodies of conciliar ecumenism (e.g. regional ecumenical organizations and national councils of churches), the Roman Catholic Church and Christian world communions.  More recently, the process on Ecumenism in the 21st Century and the Global Christian Forum have added new dimensions to the service the WCC provides for the wider ecumenical movement.  Such new roles of the WCC are met with both appreciation and apprehension by many of our member churches and ecumenical partners.  There are signs that, for instance, the Roman Catholic Church is acknowledging the constructive role the WCC has played in providing such spaces for the wider ecumenical movement beyond its own constituency.  At the same time, however, there are also clear signals that these new efforts should not jeopardize or endanger the achievements of the past.  I see these concerns surfacing, for instance, in the discussion regarding the next WCC assembly that is also on our agenda.

D. The role of the WCC

21. With this last comment, I begin to address the question as to what all this implies for the role of the WCC.  The constitution of the WCC states in very plain and clear language in the first sentence of the section III on Purposes and Functions of the WCC that  " The WCC is constituted by the churches to serve the one ecumenical movement."  It is not a simple, but it is a necessary task for the WCC to provide leadership concerning the present and future development of the ecumenical movement.

22. The policy document Towards a Common Understanding and Vision (CUV) was clear that "the ecumenical movement is wider than its organizational expressions" (para 21). The document also underlined that "while the WCC is essentially the fellowship of its member churches, it serves at the same time as a prominent instrument and expression of the ecumenical movement." (ibid.).

23. Beyond its primary task of deepening the fellowship among the member churches that I highlighted at the beginning of this part of my report, the WCC has to take responsibility for the broadening of participation in the ecumenical movement and for ensuring its coherence.  Our constitution describes the identity of the WCC as a fellowship of churches deeply committed to the search for visible unity and to common mission and service to the world.  In his address, the moderator is calling our attention to this threefold purpose of the WCC.  Unity, common witness and service are somehow the three basic building blocks of the WCC's DNA.

24. Deepening the fellowship means deepening our common efforts for the visible unity of the church and the common mission and service to the world.  Any attempt to describe the role of the WCC for the wider ecumenical movement and the whole of Christianity today, however, has to also include the responsibilities of working for the broadening of participation in the ecumenical movement and ensuring greater coherence.

25. Deepening the fellowship, broadening participation in the ecumenical movement and providing greater coherence are three dimensions, which require keeping the balance between achievements of the past and the tasks of the future, between the fellowship that already exists in the WCC and the need to go beyond it in bringing together truly all "churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Basis of the WCC).

26. Theologically, these three dimensions reflect the underlying relational reality of the triune God, the koinonia that is at the heart of the fellowship of member churches.  This koinonia is not our own property, but a gift of God who wants the churches to participate in God's reconciling and healing mission.  We can never limit this koinonia to ourselves.  It compels us always to go beyond ourselves and to build new relationships, trusting in the mystery of God's presence among the other and, therefore, capable of doing it.

27. Deepening the fellowship of the member churches of the WCC, broadening participation in the ecumenical movement and ensuring its coherence are three central tasks that are, however, not without tension.  We experience this in three areas that I am going to address in the second section of my report: the Global Christian Forum, the formation of the ACT Alliance through a merger of ACT International and ACT Development, and the discussion on a new style of a WCC assembly that gives more space to Christian world communions (CWCs), regional ecumenical organizations and other ecumenical partners.

28. In all three of these areas, we need to follow the sense of direction that is given to us by the constitution of the WCC, by its basis and purpose.  This implies that we always begin with the fellowship of the member churches.  Lack of ownership by the member churches has been the decisive weakness of the WCC and the other ecumenical organizations.  Ownership by the member churches is the only viable way to ensure greater coherence of the different organizations they have created to serve them in their mission and to overcome competition among them.  Ownership by the member churches is also required for any attempt to broaden participation in the ecumenical movement.  Clearly the achievements of the past form the basis for widening the circle.

II. Three Areas of Special Concern

A. The Global Christian Forum

29. I have focused on the changing ecclesial realities today because one of the most important events since the central committee last met was the Global Christian Forum (GCF) that was held in November 2007 in Limuru, a place very close to my heart in my home country Kenya.  The GCF is the most important instrument to break new ground towards broader participation in the ecumenical movement; one that reflects the present scope of Christianity and not just one part of it.  For the first time such a wide range of churches and Christian communities, crossing all borders that still separate Christians, gathered at the global level.  The simple fact that this happened was the most important achievement of the process that was initiated by the WCC at the Harare assembly in 1998. The Global Christian Forum provided an opportunity to move beyond the sense of enmity that prevailed in the past and offered a chance to correct deeply seated prejudices between "Ecumenicals" and "Evangelicals" or "Pentecostals" and traditional churches.

30. All significance aside, enthusiasm should be measured as we continue to reflect.  Though the forum promotes deep sharing, it does not promote mutual accountability.  Though many church traditions were present, the Orthodox participation, especially from the Greek-speaking Orthodox churches, was less than anticipated.

31. Among the significant outcomes of the forum, we have so far assessed the following:

Unity has been included on the agenda of Pentecostal and Evangelical churches.  The event was particularly important in encouraging the World Pentecostal Fellowship, which added its name to the final forum letter to the churches and agreed to formalize its participation with the annual CWC conference of secretaries meeting.

The forum offers churches both a new ecumenical configuration, and a new form of relationship.  The broad participation, the methodology and the non-institutional character seems to attract many church leaders.  However, the forum participants themselves expressed the need to deepen their dialogue and to move beyond sharing of personal testimonies and stories.

The forum represents a shift in ecumenical world view, from a predominantly North Atlantic perspective to a more global perspective, that takes into account more fully the impact of Evangelical and Pentecostal revival movements on the world-wide church.  In another way, however, this can be seen as an Americanization of the common space because of the continuing strong cultural influence of the US basis of Evangelicals and Pentecostalism all around the world.  On the other hand, the Global Christian Forum provided an opportunity for Pentecostals and Evangelicals from Asia, Africa and Latin America to strengthen their own voice and to articulate a more socially and ecologically conscious agenda for themselves.

32. The forum experience should be seen as a challenge, but not a threat, to the traditional forms of ecumenism.  Because the forum legitimizes a wider range of ecumenical actors, i.e. the World Evangelical Alliance, it calls the WCC to reposition itself according to the values of fellowship, visible unity, common witness and service.

B. ACT Alliance

33. Earlier I referred to unity, common witness and service as the three basic building blocks of the WCC's DNA.  The interrelation among these provides us with a very relevant starting point in our relation to the new developments in the diaconal work of the council.

34. It was my firm conviction that the council had to play a bridging role in the attempts of the specialized ministries to work together globally in the field of development.  There was a felt need for more coordination of the activities, greater visibility of the development work of the ecumenical movement, and better access to all appropriate funding sources.  The discussions led to the formation of a new global alliance for development, called ACT Development.  It was officially formed at its first assembly, in February 2007 in Nairobi after two years of consultations and planning.  In the process towards ACT Development, it was also strongly emphasized that the ideal model would bring together the ecumenical work on emergencies, advocacy and development under a common brand name, preferably Action by Churches Together.  For this reason, ACT Development and ACT International have started a process of merging into one organisation, the ACT Alliance.

35. These efforts of the ecumenical partners to work together in the fields of emergencies and development are significant steps towards better co-operation and greater coherence of the ecumenical movement.  I am, for this reason, supporting this process of implementing new ways of cooperation. Some, however, have expressed their concerns about this process towards a new strong ACT Alliance.  They expressed their fear that the WCC will lose its diaconal work, which is an essential element of its mission.  Some have expressed their concern about the relationship between churches and the new ACT.  These questions are relevant and need full consideration in the discussion among ACT, the specialized ministries and the council about complementarity and mutual accountability.

36. Addressing these concerns, it is good to recall the rationale behind the restructuring of the diaconal work of the council after its assembly in Porto Alegre.  It was acknowledged that diaconal work and the struggle for justice are integrated aspects in accompanying the churches in their work with the poor and vulnerable.  This integrated approach forms also the basis of our advocacy work.  In the 2007 WCC round table meeting with specialized ministries, I highlighted the theological meaning of advocacy: standing before God and the world with and on behalf of suffering people and suffering creation. The struggle for justice, expressed in diaconal work and advocacy is therefore an inseparable aspect of the mission of the churches and of the council.

37. This is recognized by the specialized ministries. In the same round table meeting, it was expressed that the WCC is uniquely positioned[8] to have an overview of issues raised globally in the advocacy scene; to coordinate and convene, strengthening existing networks or creating new ones; in relating to a uniquely wide constituency; to support capacity building initiatives linking local actors globally; to link local and grass-roots level advocacy to the UN and other global institutions; and to develop a shared theological and spiritual grounding for advocacy.

38. The WCC's unique contribution on advocacy lies in its constituency.  The WCC, being a fellowship of churches, is an instrument of the churches to give voice to the concerns of the suffering people, who are quite often their own members.  In most cases, the people affected are the best advocates of their cause.  The ecumenical structure can help them voice their concerns.  These considerations are guiding us in the search for effective structures of cooperation between churches and specialized ministries and the formation of a new ACT.

C. The next WCC Assembly: towards an expanded space

39. The challenges of the rapidly changing global context and of the equally fast changing ecclesial landscape certainly motivated the Porto Alegre assembly to call for a new style of the WCC assembly.  Another motivation was the need to overcome the apparent fragmentation of the ecumenical movement and to ensure greater coherence.  These two motivations are reflected in the report of the policy reference committee (PRC) of the assembly that speaks of

"an ecumenical assembly that would assemble all churches to celebrate their fellowship in Jesus Christ and to address common challenges facing the church and humanity", with the particular hope that this would represent a significant step "toward visible unity and a shared Eucharist" (PRC para 5)

and the PRC elaborates this vision further through the recommendation

"to explore the feasibility of a structure for WCC assemblies that would provide expanded space for Christian world communions and confessional families to meet, for the purpose of deliberation and/or overall agenda" (PRC para 25d).

40. There was an attempt to integrate two expectations that have surfaced again in a listening process concerning the proposal for an expanded space, to which member churches, ecumenical bodies and other partners contributed.  A number of member churches want to continue the fruitful process that had started with CUV and the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC in further deepening the fellowship and addressing common challenges; there are deep concerns that the spirit of consensus, the ethos of fellowship, the accord of common prayer and confessional Eucharist - all achievements of the process of the Special Commission - could suffer.  Some of the Christian world communions together with some of their member churches that belong to both the WCC and their confessional body would like to see the next assembly become a common space, which would also enable them to conduct the business of their own confessional assemblies.

41. In a separate document, you have received a report on the listening process for your information.  This report includes a synthesis of what was heard.  It shows that progress was made in clarifying the broad range of expectations and in identifying some basic concerns for the process of discernment that needs to follow the listening process.  I do not need to repeat what is said there.  Certainly, we have moved beyond the initial stages, in which it seemed to be very difficult to reconcile the two expectations.  The awareness that the next assembly needs to serve the coherence of the ecumenical movement while having at its heart the aim to deepen the fellowship among the churches is growing.  Some new insights were gained in the listening process, for instance, regarding the perspectives shared by Christian world communions or the necessity that the assembly will apply the consensus model in all of its aspects as well as the other principles that we have introduced following the recommendations made by the Special Commission.

42. This central committee is the first opportunity for representatives of the member churches to discuss this matter with each other.  Unfortunately, only a few member churches have directly responded to my letter asking for their comments to the proposal made by the assembly.  Therefore, it is an urgent matter to involve now all of you in the discussion.  A plenary will provide an opportunity for us to share and to clarify the way forward.

43. The main question now is: how can we move from the phase of listening to a discernment process in preparation of the decision concerning the format of the assembly that we have to take at the next central committee?  The executive committee is asked to make some concrete proposals for the process of discernment and for a couple of other initiatives, that will enable the next central committee meeting to decide on theme and venue of the assembly as well.  The policy reference committee will consider both the proposal made by the executive committee and the discussion at the plenary.  This will be the basis for the recommendations that the PRC will bring to the central committee plenary through its report.  I pray that God's wisdom will guide us in this process for the benefit of the fellowship that is the WCC and the wider ecumenical movement.

III.      Implementation of Programmes

44. In the second part of my report I will focus on the council's programmatic activities. I do not intend to give a detailed report. The programme committee will receive and assess comprehensive reports for all programme areas. I would simply like to offer here a few highlights from each programme area in order to underline major directions taken, major learnings, some preliminary achievements, and future steps.

45. From the perspective of the outcome, this has been a year when a number of very important processes have been inaugurated (e.g. continuation committee on ecumenism in the 21st century; global platform for theological reflection and analysis), new activities launched (e.g. interfaith seminar; code of conduct for conversion), new ecumenical partnerships established (e.g. Ecumenical Water Network), new steps taken towards articulating strategic directions for the entire council (e.g. in the areas of fund-raising and communication, two items that feature on the agenda of this central committee).

46. From the perspective of programme management, this year has also been blessed with the arrival of new staff colleagues, reinforcing practically all programme areas and all staff roles, bringing in fresh ideas, renewed commitment and enthusiasm. It has also been a year during which we have learned more about monitoring our programmatic activities better and drawn lessons for the future. For the first time in our reporting, we will submit to the programme committee an "accountability report" tracing the implementation of all recommendations from the central committee meeting of 2006.

47. While rejoicing in these achievements, we must admit that we also faced serious challenges and dealt with many difficulties. Indeed, it has not been at all easy to carry the heavy burden of a structural and programmatic transition with all its implications. Dealing, on the one hand, with a heavy workload and, on the other, with a fairly new working style - expecting staff colleagues to serve more than one programme area or project - has been a permanent source of tension. In the latter part of 2006, there had been a low level of morale among some staff, but by mid-2007 immense progress was made in the raising of staff morale generally. Trying to be faithful to the request of the governing bodies to "do less" and receiving requests from member churches and the wider ecumenical constituency for "more", constituted a permanent pressure on most of the staff. The genuine commitment of the latter made it possible to go through all these storms and, towards the end of the year, we had begun sailing in more peaceful and calmer waters.

48. The programme area on "The WCC and the Ecumenical movement in the 21st Century"

  • the Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st Century;
  • detailed work on next steps by some NCCs, the REOs, CWCs and Pentecostal representatives, particularly in trying to respond together to the changing ecclesial and ecumenical contexts referred to in the first part of my report;
  • the development of a new approach with the Global Platform for Theological Reflection and Analysis;
  • joint meetings of the Ecumenical Officers Network and ECHOS, the youth body, and with youth and women's representatives of REOs.

49. The harvest of these first collaborative ecumenical experiences confirms that the WCC will only continue to function as privileged instrument of the wider ecumenical movement if:

  • involvement of and ownership of its programmes by the member churches are increasing,
  • convincing analysis and interpretation of the changing context are offered,
  • openness to change is shown, and
  • concrete steps for greater clarity of roles and improved cooperation between different actors in the ecumenical movement are taken.

50. In this sense, the WCC is slowly - and yet steadily - moving towards promoting a common space that is not exclusively owned and controlled by the council, but is consciously created for the benefit of the ecumenical movement as a whole (cf. continuation committee on ecumenism in the 21st century; the debate on WCC assemblies offering expanded space; the Global Christian Forum). The success of important steps such as the first meeting of the Global Christian Forum and the first meeting of the joint consultative group between Pentecostal churches and the WCC have been quite motivating experiences. The future journey, however, may involve severe risks for the WCC. Growing diversity is also provoking the fear of jeopardizing past achievements and might further reinforce the juxtaposition of ‘truth' and ‘unity', the ecclesial equivalent to new politics of identity in a globalizing world that I mentioned earlier in my report.

51. The programme area did not neglect internal programmatic cooperation. Together with "Justice, Diakonia and Care for Creation" (P4), progress was made in the reshaping of the approach towards regional relations and cooperation with REOs. Together with "Education and Ecumenical Formation" (P5) the Global Platform for Theology will be further developed.

52. For the programme area on "Unity, Mission, Evangelism and Spirituality" (P2) the year 2007 could be qualified as the year of transition, at the levels both of staff and consultative bodies. Both have struggled to find their place and role in the new WCC configuration and to integrate the various traditions of the ecumenical movement now combined in one programme area, while keeping the originality and specific focus of each.

53. The Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) insisted on the importance of a renewed focus on evangelism within a holistic mission perspective and saw much potential in linking mission work with unity, spirituality and the search for inclusive communities. It advocated for a significant contribution by WCC to the 2010 Edinburgh centennial, combined with a clarification of WCC's own mission understanding and practice. The commission's decision to propose a WCC world mission conference in 2011 had to be modified following the recommendation of the WCC executive  committee, and a new proposal is now brought forward for consideration by the central committee.

54. The Faith and Order officers and standing commission defined their role within the new WCC structure and strongly advocated for more visibility of the commission's work. Preparations have started for a plenary commission in 2009, with a focus on church unity, to be revisited in the changed and changing world, religious and ecumenical contexts. Steps have been taken to link with the work on mission in preparation for 2010. Two new theological studies combine earlier work and new challenges: ethical decision-making processes among churches; and the way each tradition relates to sources of authority.

55. At a theological consultation in La Paz, Bolivia in April 2007, the four networks of excluded people clustered under the title "Just and Inclusive Communities" and used their experiences of various forms of exclusion to formulate common perspectives and concerns as positive contribution to the understanding of church and mission. This was a truly ecumenical attempt because it allowed for a variety of approaches within a concept of unity, and showed how this form of doing theology increases the inclusive character of the Christian community. The La Paz document provides the basis for common planning among the four networks of Indigenous Peoples, Dalits, the Ecumenical Disabilities Advocacy Network (EDAN) and victims of racism, and shows the direct links to the work on unity, on mission, and on spirituality.

56. Cooperative work was high on the agenda of the programme area: the consultation on ethics of sharing the gospel, entitled "Towards a Code of Conduct on Conversion", held in Toulouse, France in August 2007, was prepared and coordinated by the programme area on "Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation" (P6), but with significant participation by Faith and Order and Mission and Evangelism staff at different moments in the process. The major learning was how to integrate the contributions of Evangelical and Pentecostal participants on such questions, in addition to the already functioning collaboration between the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.  Most of the work done under the heading of "spirituality" was also of cooperative nature, including preparations for common prayer at governing bodies, for the European Ecumenical Assembly, held in Sibiu, Romania in September 2007, and for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in 2011. A new study group on mission and healing is being constituted, linking the council's work in the areas of mission and healing with the German Institute for Medical Mission. Clear objectives and distribution of tasks were based on serious theological and medical inputs.

57. A major responsibility of the programme area "Public Witness: Addressing Power and Affirming Peace" (P3) has been to always be alert and ready to confront injustice by bringing the ethical and moral voice to the discussions and actions of civic decision-makers.  This is a huge undertaking. However, being a public witness to extreme violations of human rights is of particular concern as the nations turn their attention to the commemoration in 2008 of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

58. The WCC is always looking for new ways to not only promote ecumenical advocacy, but also to bear witness of the message to "love thy neighbour as thyself".  What does it mean to love God and to love neighbour in this troubled world? Several approaches come to the minds of Christians, but to many it means working toward a ‘just peace' and toward the reconciliation of disparate entities where neither peace nor reconciliation may exist.  Energies are being put toward this goal of greater mobilization and action oriented networking as the council moves closer to the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in May of 2011 and the development of a new peace declaration. One of the major purposes is to excite theological seminaries about this work as a way of bringing in a new generation of ecumenists. All these activities are part of the culmination of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV).  Also, through the furtherance of the Living Letters visits and the International Day of Prayer for Peace (Sept 21), space will be provided for the engagement of Christians in the endeavour of a just peace.

59. As the world turns its attention to the damage humanity has caused to the environment, the WCC is concerned not just about the protection of the earth but acts also on behalf of those who may not be able to have access to the political entry points to speak for themselves - the ones the Bible refers to as the ‘least of these'.  Programme activities focus on work on behalf of those for whom the ecumenical community seeks economic and ecological integrity and civic even-handedness as globalization makes this an ever shrinking planet. Speaking to the civil decisions-makers will continue to be the focus of each annual United Nations Liaison Office (UNLO) Advocacy event for representatives of the churches.

60. At the last central committee, a decision was made to strengthen the council's work on the Middle East by establishing the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF). A highly consultative process involving church leaders, civil society leaders and scholars from Palestine Israel culminated with the international conference on "Churches together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East" in Amman, Jordan in June 2007. The outcome was the Amman Call which provides the framework and basic objectives of the PIEF. The methodology of putting the local churches at the centre of the forum has greatly enhanced the credibility of the initiative as is evidenced by the input of International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel (ICAPPI). Planned to coincide with the start of the occupation in June 1967, the highlight of the ICAPPI week is an inter-church worship and prayer celebrated on the same Sunday in Jerusalem and in churches and parishes around the world. The theme and materials for the ICAPPI week are discerned and developed with strong participation of the local churches in the Holy Land under the rubric of the PIEF. The ICAPPI is developing into an effective ecumenical instrument for education and awareness-raising about the plight of the Palestinian people and about the Palestine Israel conflict. Participants from around the world are encouraged to make the week part of an ongoing effort to build constituencies for supporting peace processes in the Middle East.

61. At the request of church leaders in Palestine, the forum is preparing for an important theological event in September 2008 in Bern, Switzerland, in cooperation with the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, to launch the process of producing an ecumenical handbook for the use of pastors and priests in the grass-roots communities. The handbook will identify theological issues underlying the Palestine Israel conflict, such as land, justice, occupation, interpretation of biblical texts, etc., and deal with them from different approaches and perspectives.

62. Under the forum, momentum is gathering for a more coordinated and broadly based ecumenical advocacy work vis-à-vis the Palestine Israel conflict. Besides ICAPPI, EAPPI and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre are other building blocks in this initiative. There are nearly 450 former ecumenical accompaniers in different parts of the world available and willing to work for advocacy. The challenge is to develop mechanisms and communication networks to enable them to do their part in their respective countries as an integral part of a global ecumenical advocacy platform for peace, justice, reconciliation and healing in Palestine Israel.

63. Our world at present is entering a so-called second nuclear era.  The risk of actual use of nuclear arms may be higher now than during the cold war.  Instead of many nuclear weapons in few hands, today there are somewhat fewer nuclear weapons in more hands.  Adding to the risk, international agreements that control nuclear arms have been greatly weakened by nuclear powers and others pursuing narrow national interests.  Military responses to acts of terror have increased the use of state-sponsored violence, including possible new uses of nuclear weapons.  Global warming has sparked new interest in nuclear power generation, which raises its own security and other risks.  The ‘doomsday clock' kept by concerned scientists is as close to midnight as it has ever been.  What are churches doing to turn back the threat?

64. Since the last central committee meeting, there has been action by the WCC and by member churches to address specific challenges and to re-vitalize the general will required for disarmament.  The executive committee updated WCC policy twice last year, including a minute on Iran linked to our Middle East emphasis. All member churches were offered help in responding to the WCC assembly minute on nuclear arms.  Policies set by governing bodies are reflected in a range of actions:  During the United Kingdom's debate about its nuclear arsenal, the WCC sent an open letter to member churches strongly engaged in public debate.  At the WCC's United Nations Advocacy Week, nuclear disarmament was a focus area and 24 member churches indicated new interest in advocacy, many of them from the global south.  Policy positions were shared with nuclear weapon states like the US, UK, France and China and non-nuclear weapon states (including South Africa, Egypt, South Korea, Vanuatu and Sweden).  Ecumenical promotion of nuclear weapon free zones has begun in Africa (where the goal is close) and concerning the Middle East.  Inter-religious support for specific goals in nuclear disarmament is growing, as are links with key civil society actors.  Work is being carried out in the following UN forums: at Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meetings, the conference on disarmament and the first committee of the UN general assembly.  A coalition is forming to bring the obligation to disarm back to the international court of justice.  Ecumenical policies and best practices on disarmament were presented at two church-government-industry disarmament seminars, with links made to the DOV there and elsewhere.  Advocacy for nuclear arms control is both diplomatic and political in nature.  Greater engagement by churches is being sought on religious, ethical, legal and geographic grounds.  The circle of church engagement is growing slowly just as the international community faces a series of key annual conferences where eight years of backsliding and instability can be reversed.  Decision-makers in this field of international affairs expect to hear the voice of faith.

65. The links between poverty, wealth and ecology are increasingly becoming evident today. We continue to live in a world with a very unjust and unequal distribution of resources on the one hand and on the other a continuous destruction of the environment in the name of wealth creation. The concern of the WCC is that this wealth increase is not proportionally shared around the world and it has not substantially reduced poverty. There is mounting evidence that wealth creation at the macro level does not automatically result in poverty reduction; nor is it a sufficient condition for alleviating poverty. WCC works with churches to discuss how wealth can be shared for poverty eradication.  In the last period the WCC work in this area has focused on conducting regional research on the links between poverty, wealth and ecology, discussing the findings in the context of the AGAPE process and proposing alternatives. Many churches have also embarked on this process.  New features in this work are that it espouses a strong ecological dimension, especially focusing on the concept of ecological debt, it t analyses wealth creation (not just poverty); hence, the attempt to develop a "greed line" and it feeds into as well as incorporates the concept of "just peace", which is integral to the IEPC.

66. Many churches are deeply engaged in meeting immediate human needs and in addressing the structural roots of injustice. The care for basic needs has become very urgent in situations where structural economic injustice, political, religious and ethnic conflicts and natural disasters destroy the web of life. The WCC's programmatic activities on "Justice, Diakonia and Responsibility for Creation" (P4) have been directed towards supporting the churches in meeting the human needs as well as in the struggle against structural causes.

67. Apart from unjust economic and political power structures, the life of many people in this world is fundamentally threatened by the effects of climate change. The executive committee, in its meeting in Armenia in September 2007, expressed the need for more comprehensive policies to support and promote adaptation and mitigation programmes in countries severely affected by climate change, particularly in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions which are most vulnerable. It challenged the industrialized countries to support these programmes because of their current and historic responsibility in high green house gas emissions. An ecumenical team highlighted these concerns during the climate summit in Bali, December 2007, urging for full commitment during the Kyoto and post-Kyoto period.

68. The WCC, national and regional councils and conferences of churches, churches' specialized ministries engaged in relief and development work have collaborated in building up an Ecumenical Water Network (EWN) as access to clean drinking water and sanitation has become one of the main issues affected by climate changes.

69. The security of human lives is not only endangered by natural disasters, but also by political, ethnic and religious conflicts. The executive committee called the member churches to support displaced people and churches of Iraq, through prayers, advocacy and immediate help. The WCC had also a special focus on conflict areas in Africa, such as Sudan, Zimbabwe and Kenya, in accompanying churches, jointly with the AACC, to find solutions for deeply rooted conflicts. Violent ways of resolving conflicts have destroyed so many communities and have brought despair to young and old. Apart from supporting peace-building processes, the WCC has started major work in the healing of memories. In a meeting in Dublin, Ireland in October 2007, lessons have been learned and insights gained from conflict areas in different parts of the world. These lessons will inform us in our efforts to support member churches where and when the gospel calls them to work for peace, reconciliation and healing.

70. A third major threat to life is the pandemic of HIV and AIDS. The Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA) has had significant achievements in helping churches in care-giving and awareness-building and in starting theological reflections on stigmatization as well as on other deep issues, such as sexual violence and poverty. Lessons learned in Africa, through the work of EHAIA, also benefited other regions, like Asia. In several theological institutes, theological reflection on HIV and AIDS and education of students and pastors has become a standard element of the curriculum.

71. Increasingly, climate change is becoming a major cause of migration. By the middle of the 21st century, ecological migrants are likely to out-number those who migrate as a result of conflicts and pandemics, poverty and the inability to adapt to new realities. The WCC has addressed issues of injustice through the global ecumenical network on migration. During the annual meeting in Nairobi, June 2007, representatives of different regions analysed the current situation and developed ways to empower member churches. The WCC was able to address these concerns in meetings with the UNHCR. Following the deliberations of the last central committee meeting on the implications of migration on the life of the churches, we have started a process to increase the churches' awareness and gain the capacity to cope with the phenomena.

72. The programme area on "Education and Ecumenical Formation" (P5) is a good example of success in integration and cooperation that the Porto Alegre assembly had asked for.

73. The old dream of organizing an interfaith seminar using the shape and methodology of the Ecumenical Institute's Graduate School which puts the emphasis on encounter, study and research in the context of sharing life in community was realized in July 2007. The Ecumenical Institute together with all staff colleagues of the programme area, the programme area on "Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation" (P6), as well as partners from Jewish and Muslim communities in Geneva joined efforts, both in human and financial terms, to make this event possible. The local and the international press presented the event as exceptional and showed its positive results. The above-mentioned partners have committed themselves to continue this pattern and make of it an annual event of the Ecumenical Institute, encouraging also other interested partners to join.

74. The programmatic integration of the Ecumenical Institute, in particular with ecumenical theological education (ETE) and lay formation and faith nurture, continues to be affirmed by, and receive renewed support from churches, universities, theological and ecumenical associations and institutes.

75. The constant request from a considerable number of member churches for a "Bossey by extension programme" with inputs from all the above integrated projects, opens new and creative ways for working differently and more efficiently and for a stronger cooperation with the regions in the field of education and ecumenical formation.

76. How to be Christian at a time of unprecedented awareness of religious diversity which is also a time of heightened religious tensions around the world, has been the key question for the programme area on "Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation" (P6) which focuses on three themes: reflections on conversion, engaging women and youth and accompanying churches in situations of conflict.

77. "Thinking Together," a think tank comprising inter-religious scholars provides a cutting edge methodology for theological reflection, particularly on conversion. Christians, together with other religious leaders are recognizing that our theologies must be subjected to the testing, sharpening and refining that comes from other religious scholars. Listening to the deep concerns from around the world about unethical practices of conversion by some Christian groups that disrupt inter-religious harmony in local communities, this group undertook the study of this question from several religious points of view.

78. Similarly, the second of a multi-step consultation was held in Toulouse, France organized by the WCC and the Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue. This was a Christian consultation where Evangelicals and Pentecostals joined with Orthodox and Protestants to consider a "code of conduct on conversion." It is particularly encouraging that this process is now endorsed by the World Evangelical Fellowship, since it will influence some evangelical groups who engage in indiscriminate and sometimes unethical methods of evangelizing.

79. Significant progress was made in involving women and youth, these two demographic groups that are not usually represented at the inter-religious dialogue table. Few religious leaders who come to such tables are women or youth. A Christian women's delegation went to Iran in November to engage with Muslim women there on the theme "how women could influence peacemaking through religion in their professions." They have pledged to continue to meet in the years to come.

80. Two events marked work with young people. One was at Fireflies Ashram in Bangalore, India where fifteen young people spent two weeks together. The second was at Bossey where in the new effort of living in community over 20 Muslim, Jewish and Christian young people spent one month learning and dialoguing about each other's religion and living together. This activity too will continue in the years to come.

81. Since many conflicts around the world today are related to religion, the council expressed its strong determination to work with churches in conflict situations to address the conflict by bringing the resources of the inter-religious community for conflict resolution, reconciliation and peace-building. A first "brain-storming" consultation brought about 25 church leaders, experts in international relations and ecumenical partners together in December 2007. Their insights will help provide a framework for the entire programme.

82. In October 2007, a letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars and clerics was addressed to Christian leaders, including the WCC general secretary. The title of the letter is A Common Word between Us and You. It cites the Bible and the Koran to show how Christians and Muslims share remarkably similar teachings about the love of God and love of neighbour. But the authors of the letter acknowledge that there are also formal and serious differences between Muslims and Christians. These differences should not, however, prevent us from advancing our dialogue by coming together not only in a common word, but to explore possible common actions for justice and peace in the world today.

83. We welcomed the letter as an initiative signifying a commitment, on the part of the authors at least, to fresh thinking about the relationship between Muslims and Christians. Hence we took the invitation seriously, and I wrote to the WCC member churches to seek their advice on the best way to respond. The initial responses encouraged us to have a coordinated approach. A process in that direction has been initiated which included a consultation last month of Christian experts in Christian/Muslim relations. The product of the consultation is a document entitled Learning to Explore Love Together which will be sent to member churches to encourage them to use it in reflections on the letter and engage constructively with their Muslim neighbours in exploring common concerns in their own contexts. The document also forms the basis for discussions on a possible consultation with the authors of the letter to be held later this year. The central committee's affirmation of this approach will be a great encouragement.

84. The WCC Communication department continues to provide for the voice of the WCC and to work toward the enhancement of the council's overall profile through media relations, web activity, visual arts, publications and language services.  The goal of communications has constantly been to accurately present the profile of the WCC to a worldwide constituency for the purpose of energizing their involvement in the ecumenical movement and the work of the WCC.

85. The regular release of news stories and press releases reflects the relevancy of the WCC work in the world today. The publications team continues to produce books, booklets and pamphlets which aid the overall ecumenical movement through detail reporting of vital commissions and conferences and books on issues important to the church worldwide. The visual arts team continues to contribute to the visual representation of the ecumenical community through the continuation of the Keeping the Faith series and the regular use of images on the web and in publications.

86. Crafting a new strategy has been the major task of the new director who is committed to consult the governing bodies, consolidate and implement this new strategy for strengthening the role of the council within the one ecumenical movement. This will be one of the major expectations from this central committee.

87. In order to assist this central committee in discussing the proposed new communications strategy, we have proposed a small committee to be working in between sessions and advise the plenary. The proposal has long-term implications and thus could not be handled adequately with just one or two sessions. The adoption of the new strategy by the central committee will both inspire and challenge the secretariat to work more effectively in enhancing the profile of the WCC within the one ecumenical movement and globally.

88. In conclusion, I wish to thank God who has given us the ability and resources of time, skills, knowledge and money to do all this work. I also thank the central committee members for all your guidance, support and encouragement. I recall the spirit and letter of the first assembly of the WCC 60 years ago: "When we look at Christ, we see the world as it is - His world, to which He came and for which He died. It is filled both with great hopes and also with disillusionment and despair. Some nations are rejoicing in new freedom and power, some are bitter because freedom is denied them, some are paralyzed by division, and everywhere there is an undertone of fear." Inspired by the spirit of our ecumenical ancestors, I am confident that when we are united we shall together make a difference so that more of God's children will have life and have it in all its fullness. May the good Lord make our work at this fifty-seventh central committee be a significant step towards that end.

 


[1] Cf. Manfred Ernst, The Re-shaping of Christianity in the Pacific Islands, Pacific Theological College: Suva 2007, p 704

[2] Ibid. p 700

[3] Peter L. Berger 2002, p8 - cf. ME, p 695

[4] David Martin, Pentecostalism. The World their Parish, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002; Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven. The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge (MA): Da Capo Press, 2001; Karla Poewe, Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1994

[5] ME p 695

[6] ME p 698

[7] ME p 702

[8] The report of this meeting says: "It was proposed that the round table core group follows up, together with the WCC, on the following areas of concern: theological grounding of advocacy; well-resourced, targeted global level advocacy in the UN family, emphasizing human rights and security issues; the role of the WCC and its constituency in addressing international financial institutions; the role of the WCC and its constituency in addressing the private sector, particularly trans-national corporations; enhanced ownership and involvement of the member churches and ecumenical partners, through capacity building and critical dialogue; capturing the different advocacy agendas in the ecumenical family, either through creative mapping, division of labour or existing forums."