The Assembly

The 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches will take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, from 31 August to 8 September 2022, under the theme "Christ's love moves the world to reconciliation and unity"

The Assembly is the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and normally meets every eight years. It is the only time when the entire fellowship of member churches comes together in one place for prayer and celebration.

A WCC Assembly is a special time in the lives of member churches, ecumenical partners and other churches, as it brings together more than 4000 participants, coming from all over the world. It is a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness. This makes a WCC Assembly the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world.

The 11th Assembly of the WCC will take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the joint invitation of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the Protestant Church in Baden, the Council of Churches in Germany, the Union of Protestant Churches in Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL) and the Protestant Church in Switzerland.

A WCC Assembly is a special time in the lives of member churches, partners organizations and other churches, as it brings together more than 4000 participants coming from all over the world. It is a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness. This makes a WCC Assembly the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world.

A WCC Assembly in Germany

The WCC accepted the invitation of the member churches in Germany to hold the 11th assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany. The invitation was brought forward by the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD), the Protestant Church in Baden and the Council of Churches in Germany;, together with churches in France (Union of Protestant churches in Alsace and Lorraine, UEPAL) and in Switzerland (Protestant Church of Switzerland). The last assembly in Europe took place in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1968.

The city of Karlsruhe is located in Baden in south-west Germany, an historical and cultural “trans-border-region”. Karlsruhe is the second-largest city of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The main venue for the assembly will be the Messe-Karlsruhe (www.messe-karlsruhe.de/en), located in the heart of the city.

The local hosting church, the Protestant Church in Baden, became a united church by petition of the people in 1821. In 2021, the 200 years anniversary of the unification of the church will be celebrated.

A WCC Assembly in Europe

After World War II and with the changes in the geo-political situation brought about by decolonization a new reality of a - mainly western - European entity developed. At the same time, the opposition between the Soviet Union and the western powers caused the division of the continent in East and West, which lasted until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The European churches in the ecumenical movement and the WCC have always endeavoured to maintain and to nurture a sense of unity across the divide of the Cold War. This was also one of the main functions of the regional ecumenical organization created by the churches of Europe in 1959, the Conference of European Churches (CEC).

The geographical spread of the European region in the WCC and the ecumenical movement coincides for the most part with the political understanding of Europe stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic. On the southern side the countries of the Caucasus are included but not Cyprus which is grouped with the Middle East. Sub-regional affinities are fairly strong: the Nordic region (the Scandinavian countries plus Finland and the Baltics), Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Southern Europe.

The Protestant churches in western and southern Europe have formed a sub-regional conference. To some extent, there is also a sub-regional confessional pattern: the large churches of the Reformation (Protestant and Anglican) are mostly in the west and north, the Catholic Church is in a majority position in the south (and in Poland), the Orthodox churches form the majority in the central and eastern parts of Europe. The churches of the Protestant Reformation (Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist) are in full communion through the Leuenberg Agreement and have formed the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. The Anglican and (episcopal) Lutheran churches in Great Britain and the Nordic countries (with the exception of Denmark) have also signed an agreement of full communion (Porvoo).  There are 81 WCC member churches in Europe.

Links:

WCC member churches in Europe

Conference of European Churches

WCC Member Churches in Germany

Assembly theme

The theme of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches is "Chirst’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity".

The assembly will gather amidst perplexities, anxieties, and fundamental questions about the way we inhabit the earth, make sense of our lives, live in society, and accept responsibility for future generations. These questions have been amplified by the global COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the climate emergency, and manifestations of racism worldwide, which have further revealed structural economic inequality, gender discrimination, and other forms of injustice in our societies and in our world.

In this fragmented and fractured world, the assembly theme is an affirmation of faith that Christ’s love transforms the world in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. Against the powers of destruction and sin, the assembly theme affirms that the love of the compassionate, crucified, and risen Christ is at the heart of this world. It is a radical call to the churches to work together unceasingly and with people of other faiths and all those of good will for just peace and reconciliation. It is a call for the visible unity of the church to become​ a prophetic sign and a foretaste of the reconciliation of this world with God, and the unity of humankind and all creation.

Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity

Assembly symbol
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Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity

Links to download: PDF JPG

Created as a visual expression of the Assembly theme, the symbol’s design is also inspired by the dynamic expressions and variety of the ecumenical movement in its search for Christian unity and promotion of justice and peace.

Inspired by the theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” the WCC fellowship will come together as a whole in prayer and celebration at the 11th Assembly. We will draw renewed energy for the WCC’s work far beyond the event itself. That’s why, anytime you use the Assembly symbol, you should also offer space for the WCC official logo.

The symbol is formed by 4 elements:

  • The cross - the assembly theme is an affirmation of faith that Christ’s compassionate love transforms the world in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. Placed prominently in the symbol, the cross is an expression of the love of Christ and a reference to the first article of the WCC Constitution.[1]
  • The dove - a universal symbol of peace and reconciliation, the dove stands for the Holy Spirit and also refers to deep biblical expressions of hope.
  • The circle - the whole inhabited world (oikoumene) – bringing a sense of unity and common goal, and a new beginning. The circle is also inspired by the concept of reconciliation. As Christians, we have been reconciled with God through Christ, and as churches, we are agents of forgiveness and love both within and outside our communities. The ecumenical movement has responded to the call for unity and reconciliation through resolute work and action for a more just and participatory society and the care for God’s Creation.
  • The way - we all come from different places, cultures and churches; we walk different paths responding to God’s call; we are all on a pilgrimage through which we encounter others and join together on a journey of justice and peace. The different paths represent our various journeys, the movement, freedom and vibrancy of life that drive the WCC and its member churches around the world.

 

The assembly, as supreme legislative body of the WCC has the mandate to review programmes, issue public statements and determine the overall policies of the WCC. It also has the mandate to elect presidents and a central committee of 150 members to oversee the council’s work until the next assembly.

How to participate in a WCC Assembly

The assembly, as supreme legislative body of the WCC has the mandate to review programmes, issue public statements and determine the overall policies of the WCC. It also has the mandate to elect presidents and a central committee of 150 members to oversee the council’s work until the next assembly.

How to participate in a WCC assembly

Delegates and Advisors from Member Churches:
Invitation to Member Churches have been sent in 2019. Member Churches are invited to nominate their delegation and to submit it to the central committee.

Delegated Representatives from Associated Organisation:
Ecumenical partners recognized by the central committee are invited to nominate delegated representatives. This includes Associate or National Council of Churches, Specialised Ministries, Christian World Communions, Regional Ecumenical Organizations and International Ecumenical Organizations.

Delegated Observers from churches that are not members of the WCC:
Churches that are not members of the WCC are also invited to join the assembly. This includes a delegation from the Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostal churches with whom the WCC is in dialogue and applicant member churches.

Observers and guests from churches, partners and other faiths:
Many churches and partners send observers to the assembly. The interfaith partners of the WCC also attend the assembly as observers.

Stewards:
Stewards are young people between 18 and 30 years old who join the assembly to help run the meeting and experience ecumenical formation. If you are between the age 18-30 years old and interested into participating in the WCC stewards’ programme, registration will open in September 2021 until February 2022. Please scroll down for more details of the stewards programme for the 11th assembly.

Assembly participants:
Everyone is welcome and interested participants from member churches, ecumenical networks and partner organizations are also welcome to participate to the WCC 11th assembly. Further guidelines and registration for this category will open in September 2021.

Regional participants from Europe:
The local office of the assembly, Karlsruhe Local Office (KALO) will be organizing a regional ecumenical encounter programme targeted specifically for local and regional participants. This programme will be running in parallel to the assembly. More information on how to register to this programme is available through the local office website.

Day participants:
If you are interested in experiencing one day at the assembly, more information will be made available closer to the assembly.

Media:
If you are a media/press interested in covering and attending the event, registration will open on September 2021. Click here to see the WCC 11th Assembly media kit.

Karlsruhe Local Office (KALO)

A local office was opened in Karlsruhe to prepare for the assembly: Karlsruhe Local Office (KALO). The office works closely with the WCC, ensures good cooperation with the churches in the region and local partners on site. KALO coordinates the various events on the way to the assembly and a programme of the hosting churches during the days in Karlsruhe, e.g. an ecumenical encounter programme and excursions in the region during the weekend of the assembly.

The office is supported by the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Evangelical Church in Baden and the Archdiocese of Freiburg. The staff is formed by three theologians (two Protestant and one Roman Catholic), one event manager and one assistant responsible to take care of all questions relating to the assembly and strengthen relationships with the churches in the region and the numerous institutions that will be involved in the assembly.

The office also works with numerous volunteers who are involved in the preparation and implementation of the assembly at various levels.

In addition to the content and logistical planning for the program contributions of the host churches, KALO takes care of the ecofriendly assembly in cooperation with the WCC, organizes the transport of the participants and works with the various security authorities. KALO also endeavors to involve as many churches in the region as possible in the preparations. Interested parties can contact KALO with any questions about the assembly.

Links:
Learn more about KALO at Ekiba.de
City of Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe Tourismus

Prayer life

At the heart of the global ecumenical gathering of delegates and visitors to the WCC 11th Assembly is its spiritual life. Each morning attendees will begin the day with interconfessional prayer. The main elements of these opening spiritual moments are singing, reading of the Scripture, praying, and reflecting on the key biblical theme and message for the day. 

Other spiritual life moments will be offered throughout each day. They will include Home Groups Bible studies where delegates will have the opportunity to engage more deeply with the biblical text for the day. 

Having access to Home Groups that are small in size and language-structured will ensure that the discussions that unfold within these settings will be informed by all the participants. These Home Groups will end with a short midday prayer. As each day ends, there will be another opportunity provided for delegates and visitors to participate in evening confessional prayers. This will allow for all to experience a spiritual moment which reflects just a sample of the extensive spiritual diversity that is the fellowship of the Council. 

As the business sessions and thematic plenaries of the assembly unfold, the spiritual life components are offered to nurture the soul and renew the spirit as we sing, pray and through moments of silence and reflection discern the future direction and action of the global ecumenical movement. 

Our times of worshipping together we believe will serve to affirm where God is leading us as together we declare that Christ’s love is moving the world to reconciliation and unity.

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Busan prayer service
Thematic Plenaries

A daily thematic plenary will focus on a particular aspect of the assembly theme. The assembly planning committee is cooperating with the assembly worship planning committee in order to ensure a thematic as well as spiritual flow.

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Bishop Brian Farrell speaks at WCC 10th Assembly
Business plenaries

Business plenaries are the place where delegates from WCC member churches address the assembly and draw an overview of the WCC’s until the next assembly. Their role is to elect the new central committee and WCC presidents.

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plenary session during WCC 10th Assembly
Ecumenical conversations

Ecumenical conversations are envisioned as in-depth, and linked to the potential work of WCC commissions and other programmes. They are drawn from the insights of WCC networks, member churches and partners, and/or relate to emerging ecumenical concerns.

Ecumenical conversations are to be outcome-focused. Outcomes will be shared with the assembly committees, and detailed reports will be shared with future governing bodies. Each ecumenical conservation will take place in the same group for 4 days. This will give the possibility for creating safe spaces and a group dynamic, as well as for the participants to go in-depth into an issue. Ecumenical conversations are open to assembly participants with a right to speak.

In Karlsruhe, 20 – 22 ecumenical conversations will run parallel. Participants will be able to register for one. More information on ecumenical conversations will be posted here later.

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ecumenical conversation
Brunnen

Brunnen is a German word for “well.” The well is traditionally a space for encounter and sharing, satisfying one’s thirst, greeting a visitor and welcoming a stranger. The German churches propose Brunnen as a concept to welcome the world to Karlsruhe and help give shape and meaning to the assembly. In the 2013 Busan, the 2006 Porto Alegre and 1998 Harare assemblies, the respective concepts of MadangPadare and Mutirão referred to a shared space for workshops, exhibitions and side events involving different groups and ecumenical partners.

The objectives of the Brunnen are to:

  1. Provide space for encountering the diversity of the church and ecumenical partners; 
  2. Become an animated and lively space within the assembly venue; 
  3. Allow for assembly participants to engage with themes/issues and ideas related to the host context; 
  4. Provide space for the ecumenical family to discuss issues of common concern and/or emerging challenges in an environment of mutual learning; and 

Introduce and promote the exploration of themes/issues in visual, interactive, dynamic and innovative ways.

    Components of the Brunnen programme:

    The purpose of the Networking Zone is to create a lively and dynamic space where participants can gather around several ecumenical hubs. These hubs (large booths) must provide dynamic, interactive and diverse activities. A limited number of these hubs will be available (5). More information on the networking zones will be posted here later.

    Workshops
    Workshops are only given once for a period of 75 minutes to provide an opportunity for up to 50 assembly participants to discuss and explore a specific thematic topic. Applicants should come from WCC member churches and/ or ecumenical partners. A limited number of workshops will be offered with simultaneous interpretation into different languages.

    More information on workshops and how to apply will be posted here later.

    Exhibitions & Booths
    Exhibitions & Booths are spaces (either running for the duration of the assembly or for shorter periods) that provide an opportunity for assembly participants and the wider public to enjoy a range of diverse offerings from the membership and/ or ecumenical partners. Exhibitions & Booths are not limited to static presentations and displays (photo essays, art exhibitions, etc.) and must include a variety of offerings. These booths will be approx. 3x2m.

    More information on exhibitions and booths, and how to apply, will posted here later.

    Side-events & performances
    Side events & performances are events for the fellowship, ecumenical partners and wider public that may include music,  theatre, dance, or visual arts, designated spaces for discussion (e.g. a series of conversations with key ecumenists), a youth space etc. There will be a ‘hub’ for the events space that will include a stage for performance. This will be coordinated and animated by an artistic coordinator. More information on side-events and performances will be posted here later.

    Information
    A specific area will be dedicated to providing information to participants. This area will have a WCC assembly information desk and registration but also information about the City of Karlsruhe, local churches, programme elements and more.

    Catering
    The Brunnen will house a large catering operation. This catering zone will host lunches and dinners but also be a space for tasting culturally diverse food. In addition, running parallel to the Brunnen, there will be the Food Truck Alley serving various food.

    Animation
    The Brunnen coordinator will work with the different networking zones, side-events & performances to provide a harmonious yet diverse artistic experience of the Brunnen. The Brunnen will serve to root the assembly in the host context and help to give it shape and meaning, as was the Madang in the 10th assembly in Busan or the Mutirão at the 9th assembly in Porto Alegre.

    Networking Zone
    The purpose of the Networking Zone is to create a lively and dynamic space where participants can gather around several ecumenical hubs. These hubs (large size booths) must provide dynamic, interactive and diverse activities. A limited number of these hubs will be available (5).

    More information on the networking zone will be posted here later.

    Workshops
    Workshops are events (in principle only given once and running for a period of 75 minutes) that provide an opportunity for the assembly participants (between 20-50 participants) to come together to discuss and explore a specific thematic topic. Applicants should come from WCC member churches and/ or ecumenical partners. A limited number of workshops will be offered with simultaneous interpretation into different languages.

    More information on workshops and how to apply will be posted here later.

    Exhibitions & Booths
    Exhibitions & Booths are spaces (either running for the duration of the assembly or for shorter periods) that provide an opportunity for the assembly participants and the wider public to enjoy a range of diverse offerings from the membership and/ or ecumenical partners. Exhibitions & Booths are especially not limited to static presentations and displays (photo essays, art exhibitions etc) and must include a variety of offerings. These booths will be approx. 3x2m.

    More information on exhibitions and booths, and how to apply, will posted here later.

    Side-events & performances
    Side events & performances are events for the fellowship, ecumenical partners and wider public that may include music, cultural performances (theatre, dance), concerts, or visual arts, designated spaces for discussion e.g. a series of conversations with key ecumenists, a youth space etc. It is envisaged that there will be a ‘hub’ for the events space that will include a stage for performance (dance, theatre etc.).

    This will be coordinated and animated by an artistic coordinator. More information on side-events and performances will be posted here later.

    Information
    A specific area will be dedicated to providing information to participants to the assembly. This area will have a WCC assembly information desk and registration but also information about the City of Karlsruhe, the local churches, programme elements and more.

    Catering
    The Brunnen will house a large catering operation. This catering zone will be in operation will host lunches and dinners but also be a space for tasting culturally diverse food. In addition, running parallel to the Brunnen there will be the Food Truck Alley serving various food.

    Animation
    The Brunnen coordinator will work with the different networking zones, side-event & performances selected to provide a harmonious yet divers artistic experience of the Brunnen. The Brunnen will serve to root the assembly in the host context and help to give it shape and meaning, as it was the Madang in the 10th assembly in Busan or the Mutirão at the 9th assembly in Porto Alegre.

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    madang
    Home groups

    Taking place every morning after the biblical reflection and thematic plenary of the day, Home groups will offer people an opportunity to engage with one another by reflecting on prayer, biblical passages, plenaries, and other encounters.

    All participants that have a right to speak at the assembly will be allocated to a home group. Home groups will be comprised of participants from across regions, confessions, professions, age, “old-timers” and “newcomers” at the assembly.

    The purpose of home groups is to:

    - Enable a meaningful and trans-contextual engagement with the daily theme and biblical message
    - Provide space for mutual exchange and learning
    - Capture a key insight per day for dissemination at the assembly (200 characters)
    - Share outcome of joint trans-contextual discernment with WCC governing bodies, member churches and partners (800 - 1000 words per home group)

    More information on Home groups will be posted here later.

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    group discussion
    Stewards programme

    The vision of the WCC Stewards Programme has always been large. W.A. Visser’t Hooft, the first general secretary of the WCC, saw the stewards as bearers of the future. He wanted young people to encounter ecumenism and its leaders, so that they might one day become its leaders. 

    The Stewards Programme is an ecumenical introduction. For many people it is been the first, or at least an early step, that led to greater involvement in ecumenism and opportunities for more learning and growth. 

    Young people who serve as stewards are not merely observers of meetings or assemblies, but also participants. They are the circulatory and respiratory systems of the ecumenical movement—and they are vital to its life.

    At the WCC 11th Assembly, there will be a group of young people, ages 18-30 years old, participating as stewards. The Stewards Programme will bring together 160 young people from different countries, regions, and traditions for an opportunity to contribute to operations of the assembly and to participate in ecumenical learning, encounters and discussions.

    There are three aspects of the Stewards Programme:

    a) intentional ecumenical formation designed to build awareness, develop leadership, and strengthen global solidarity;
    b) participation and contribution of young people to major WCC meetings as “yeast of the ecumenical loaf”;
    c) support the inspiring and efficient flow of the meeting.

    A steward is an invaluable ecumenical resource. In order to become a steward, an applicant has to go through a competitive selection process in which church and ecumenical involvement are prioritised. WCC looks for young people capable of integrating their experience back in their local contexts, motivated to multiply the ecumenical enthusiasm, ready to “do ecumenism” locally. Therefore, stewards are not merely helpers or an unqualified labour force. They are young persons committing time, energy, skills, knowledge and visions to building up the ecumenical movement. They are leaders in their churches, communities, organisations and in the ecumenical movement and they are or will be the ones taking the ecumenical movement, moving forward.

    Sewards’ working areas include: floor management, communication, worship, documentation, registration. Stewards come to serve the meeting as a whole. Therefore, they should not be requested to perform tasks by individual delegates or other participants unless this is co-ordinated through the WCC staff working with the stewards. Stewards are instructed not to answer to individual requests during their working time or to favour assembly participants of their country/church.

    During the assembly, stewards will be carrying out their tasks but also – when off-duty – participate in worship, confessional meetings, and small group discussions. Whenever possible they should be given the opportunity to speak and share their experience. They have a lot to contribute!

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    Busan stewards
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    youth pre-assembly busan
    Pre-Assemblies

    Youth pre-assembly

    A WCC assembly is an inspiring and exciting event that celebrates Christian unity and diversity. It is a moment of grace during which our Christian faith is strengthened and our ecumenical commitment nurtured and reinforced.

    At this juncture in the ecumenical movement, Christian churches around the world are striving for a renewed vision of ecumenism that responds to the current aspirations and challenges in the world. Inter-generational dialogue with young adults is indispensable. However, inter-generational dialogue does not simply mean mentorship, but rather youth empowerment and leadership. We must move from beyond the traditional mindset that young people are merely the future of the church. Young people represent today’s church, together with the older generations. Their vision and aspirations are therefore essential to communicate a better understanding of what we mean by “church” today.

    One of the tasks of the WCC 11th Assembly will be to move beyond token representation of young people and into substantive and active contribution. Young professionals will be invited to fully contribute to the Assembly from their respective contexts and their ecclesial experiences.

    The aim of the youth pre-assembly is to invite young delegates into in-depth discussions with interactive sessions on thematic issues. It also prepares them for their respective roles and responsibilities during the assembly. It is a space where young delegates – some of whom have little or no previous experience at ecumenical gatherings – will be empowered as they acquire the necessary tools and insights to contribute meaningfully to the life of the church.

    The pre-assembly is also an opportunity to build fellowship among young people and to amplify their presence as a “community of young pilgrims.”

    Throughout these two days young delegates will be immersed in assembly-like sessions.

    Four other programmes of the WCC will meet prior to the assembly to address issues of concern to their groups.  There are already pre-existing elements of synergy and intersectionality among these groups. The nature of the previous assemblies did not always provide opportunity for collaboration and engagement, despite the complementary nature of the constituencies.  At Karlsruhe, all four pre-assemblies will have joint sessions which will provide participants opportunities to interact and to articulate a more cohesive orientation and reporting framework to the assembly.

    The Karlsruhe pre-assembly will seek to:

    • Orient participants to the WCC and to the nature and desired outcomes of a WCC Assembly (jointly - with the other preassembly groups);
    • Familiarize the structure and history of WCC as an institution and as a fellowship
    • Unpack contextual issues relevant to the programmatic work of the WCC in response to the assembly theme (in regions and with ecumenical partners);
    • Create a space for intentional interaction of the WCC pre-assemblies through collaborative activities, as they prepare for assembly sessions and plenaries;
    • Prepare delegates and assembly participants for intentional proactive engagement in the assembly 
    • Promote intentional mentoring between experienced and new participants and sharing of resources and best practices;
    • Promote solution-oriented networking between delegates, ecumenical  partners, and other participants
    • Review the strategies and programmatic outcomes from youth engagement in the ecumenical movement;
    • Harvest recommendations for consideration during the 11th assembly and beyond

    Expected outcomes

    The joint pre-assemblies MUST influence the policies and programmatic direction of the WCC during the assembly and into the next term. Through deliberate engagement, the pre-assembly groups will have a better grasp of the core issues affecting them collectively. In so doing, they seek to realize the following outcomes:

    • Report to be submitted to the assembly
    • More intentional engagement in assembly by delegates who have participated in previous assemblies through sharing of best practices 
    • Stronger networks and solidarity among pre-assembly participants for supportive participation in the assembly and beyond
    • A space to learn and share about our different traditions and families of the WCC member churches
    • A directory of young people’s networks 
    • At least 100 intergenerational women and men agreeing to (in)formal mentoring relationships

    Pre-Assembly Theological Framework

    The pre-assembly will give participants an opportunity to explore the assembly theme ‘Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity’ from young people’s perspectives. Participants will reflect theologically on the theme using contextual Bible studies, liturgical frameworks and keynote presentations.  In addition to spiritual life, the joint sessions with other pre-assemblies will offer opportunities for theological reflection through the lens of the marginalized.

    The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace motif will be woven through the fabric of the pre-assembly, as delegates will celebrate the gifts, lament the wounds, and offer recommendations for transformation regarding the under-representation of young people in the ecumenical movement.

    Content may include

    • Orientation to German context/issues impacting young people in Germany & Europe
    • Intentional interaction and reflection of committee members and pre-Assembly delegates
    • Reflection on the lessons from the young people-led PTVs 
    • Unpacking the theme using PJP framework
    • Where are the spaces of brokenness in the world? Identifying the justice-related issues which demand ecumenical engagement in those space
    • What are the virtues to be found in Christ’s love for the dispossessed? Why are persons excluded from Christ’s love? Who needs to experience the love of Christ?
    • Mobilization of the world to reconciliation and unity requires agency.  Who acts on this and how? Identifying the avenues for reconciliation and justice between women and men resulting in the call to joint action and collaboration by women and men

    Participants
    We propose that approximately 150 young people (30 years old and below) participate in the assembly and participate in the pre-assembly.  The approach is inter-programmatic.  In this regard, conversations will commence with internal colleagues from Public Witness and Diakonia; Unity and Mission and Ecumenical Education and Formation programmes and Just community of women and men, Church relations, Interreligious Dialogue and Spiritual life.

    Collaborative partners include, but are not limited to WSCF, EYCE, YMCA, EKD-Youth, CEC, Syndesmos.

    In addition to the traditional presentation methods, there will be potential for interactive formats, including round table-campfire conversations, TED talks, workshops, “fishbowl” exercises, Theatre of the Oppressed, meditation-reflection, exhibition and speed dating/amended Pecha Kucha presentations. These activities will present greater opportunities for information sharing, while creatively engaging participants.

    Just Community of Women and Men pre-assembly

    Since the inaugural 1948 Amsterdam Assembly and subsequent general assemblies of the WCC, a women’s pre-assembly has underscored women’s participation and called for special focus on women’s concerns, struggles and contributions in church and society.

    The outcomes of those pre-assemblies have influenced some of the decisions of the WCC governing bodies, especially with regard to framing the programmes of the secretariat and member churches.

    These include the establishment of the Women in Church and Society desk (now the Just Community of Women and Men); the commissioning of what would later be known as the Sheffield Report; the constitutional inclusion of women as voting delegates to the assembly; and the call for an Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. The Decade issued a call for solidarity between women and men; emphasizing the need for women’s equal participation in church and society and an end to sexual and gender-based violence – a call echoed and amplified at the 2018 20th anniversary consultation in Jamaica.

    The amplification of this cry brings us to the present, where the invitation to the pre-assembly gathering of Women and Men in Karlsruhe beckons us to pursue reconciliation and unity actively.

    As persons of faith in partnership with the WCC fellowship and motivated by Christ’s love, you are invited to join us at the Women and Men’s pre-assembly in Karlsruhe. At the pre-assembly, you have the opportunity to

    • Gain a deeper understanding of the polity and procedures of the World Council of Churches’ governance meetings
    • Find safe spaces to express best practices and concerns related to men and/or women in special break-out sessions during the Pre-Assembly.
    • Share and be educated about ministry at grassroots and administrative levels in the contexts of our delegates and partners;
    • Reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on communities of Women and Men in your contexts
    • Demonstrate your solidarity with women and those who are marginalized/vulnerable and enhancing their gifts through agency, accompaniment and support;
    • Accompany persons at the seat of power in addressing their own vulnerability;
    • Network with others working towards a just community of women and men, as well as with participants of other pre-assemblies during joint sessions; 
    • Shape the programmatic thrust for the post-assembly work of the WCC.

    The pre-assembly meets for 3 days prior to the assembly. Your presence can be the difference we need.

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    Harare women pre-assembly
    Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) pre-assembly

    The EDAN pre-assembly will meet under the theme of "Different gifts and the unity of the church." The structure of the pre-assembly will include opportunities to harvest what has been done through the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, which calls on us to walk together in a common quest in celebrating life and in concrete steps towards transforming injustice and violence. This will take the dimension of celebrating the gifts of persons with disabilities; visiting the past and present wounds and come up with steps of how the transform the injustices.

    The gathering will also prepare persons with disabilities to take the opportunity through their participation at the assembly to remind the churches that their pilgrimage of justice and peace is not only a God‐given demand and obligation, but also a matter of credibility in the world. The churches can only be faithful to their mission by giving a common witness to Jesus Christ in witness and service, respect for people's dignity and solidarity with those on the margins like those pushed to the margins due to their disability.

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    EDAN pre-assembly 2006
    Indigenous’ People pre-assembly

    Theme - Reconciliation: Restoring Wholeness in Creation

     

    The Indigenous Peoples pre-assembly is an open invitation to all who seek to join with us, in committing anew to act with compassion, to practice inclusive and relational justice, and to affirm our unity in Christ whose love moves us to restoring wholeness in all of creation. This is an invitation to a worldwide partnership of Indigenous Peoples and church related network of peoples dedicated to the self-determination[1] of Indigenous Peoples and to the renewal of Creation in dreaming together a continuing vision of a new heaven and a new earth.

    Too often reconciliation has been experienced as a process seeking too easily the restoration of harmonious relationships without fully addressing or engaging the sources and actions of oppression in the past and the present. The destructive effect of human sin manifested through varying forms of colonialism, imperialism and capitalism, has destroyed indigenous cultures, communities and the interconnected web of creation. The process and acts of reconciliation are thereby not only about restoring broken human relationships but also humanity’s broken relationship with creation.

    The indigenous pre-assembly seeks to challenge and critique notions of reconciliation that are too eager to gloss over the wrongdoings and violations of the past without addressing the ongoing systemic and structural causes of oppression and injustice of the past and present. Reconciliation is an intentional commitment to restoring wholeness in all creation. Indigenous peoples bring many insightful perspectives, wisdom and knowledge from their experiences, cultures and contexts that will enrich the ecumenical dialogue on reconciliation and the broader assembly theme with the hope that we can continue to reimagine a just and equitable future together.

    The pre-assembly program will provide the space for:

    • Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples Youth Program 
    • Engagement with the indigenous peoples in Europe
    • Reflection and testimonies on the learnings from the various PTV visits 
    • Orientation to German context/issues 
    • Intentional interaction and reflection with assembly committee members and pre-assembly delegates

    The pre-assembly will enable participants the opportunity to explore the assembly theme from a contextual, indigenous and intersectional perspective. Participants will have opportunities to reflect theologically on the theme by using indigenous contextual Bible studies, worship, keynote presentations, plenaries and workshops.  The workshop themes are reflective of the contextual issues of indigenous peoples of the varying WCC regions. The workshops will explore the following topics: Indigenous women and The Earth, Climate Change/Justice, Indigenous Spirituality, Language revitalization, Decolonisation and Self-determination, Trauma and healing, Displacement and Youth. There will be joint sessions with the other pre-assemblies. Furthermore, in affirmation and celebration of the rich diversity of indigenous peoples’ cultures, there will be exhibitions, performances, arts and craft in the market place.

    Participants
    The Indigenous pre-assembly will host approximately 100 to 150 (maximum) participants, including Indigenous Youth. The invitation is open to ecumenical regional networks, delegates to the assembly, visitors, indigenous and non- indigenous participants.

    Contact

    Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll
    Programme Executive
    Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples Network
    Seforosa.Carroll@wcc-coe.org


    [1] The understanding of "Self-determination” varies according to different contexts.  In some countries, it could mean armed resistance for independent movement against the government but in some countries it is assertion of right to land and its resources, customary law, language, culture, and spirituality. In the ecumenical context, “self-determination” is an inclusive term which embraces right to life, respect of diversity and freedom from all forms of unjust system that excludes indigenous people.

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    indigenous pre-assembly Busan

    Peacemakers for Life

    Sermon for Joint Anglican-Catholic Peace Memorial Service by Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee and head of WCC delegation of Church Leaders Pilgrimage to Japan on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings.

    Central Committee
    10th Assembly, Busan 2013
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    Busan report cover

    Place: Busan, Republic of Korea
    Dates: 30 October - 8 November 2013
    Theme: God of life, lead us to justice and peace
    Member churches: 345

    In the message of the WCC 10th Assembly, participants offered this affirmation:

    “We share our experience of the search for unity in Korea as a sign of hope in the world. This is not the only land where people live divided, in poverty and richness, happiness and violence, welfare and war. We are not allowed to close our eyes to harsh realities or to rest our hands from God’s transforming work. As a fellowship, the World Council of Churches stands in solidarity with the people and the churches in the Korean peninsula, and with all who strive for justice and peace.”

    Read the official report of the 10th Assembly

    Visit the 10th Assembly website

    9th Assembly, Porto Alegre 2006
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    porto alegre cover

    Place: Porto Alegre, Brazil
    Dates: 14-23 February 2006
    Theme: God in your grace, transform the world
    Member churches: 348 

    The 2006 assembly was one of the most representative gatherings of Christians ever held - with over 4,000 participants from ecumenical organizations and groups, delegates from 348 member churches, observers and visitors from all around the world.

    Addressing the core issues of Christian unity, the Assembly agreed on a new text, "Called to be the One Chruch," and urged that WCC and its member churches give priority to the questions of unity, catholicity, baptism and prayer. Other key issues discussed at plenary sessions were Economic justice, Christian identity and religious plurality, and Youth overcoming violence.

    Also, delegates adopted a substantially revised Constitution and Rules which moved the WCC to decision-making based on consensus and which amended membership criteria. Steps were taken to strengthen active involvement of youth (under 30 years) in the life and work of the Council.

    Read the official report of the 9th Assembly

    Visit the 9th Assembly website

    8th Assembly, Harare 1998
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    Harare report

    Place: Harare, Zimbabwe 
    Dates: 3-14 December 1998 
    Theme: Turn to God - Rejoice in Hope 
    Member churches: 339 

    Half a century after the official foundation of the WCC, its member churches renewed their commitment to stay together, and delegates promised to remain in solidarity with their African hosts.

    The Assembly decided to set up a commission on the participation of the Orthodox churches in the WCC. It backed the creation of a "Forum of Christian Churches and Ecumenical Organizations" which could extend the ecumenical outreach far beyond WCC member churches.

    Delegates and assembly visitors participated in more than 600 contributions to a three-day "Padare" in which subjects ranged from Evangelical-Orthodox dialogue to human sexuality. It was preceded by a Decade Festival of churches in solidarity with women.

    Read the official report of the 8th Assembly

    Learn more about the 8th Assembly

    7th Assembly, Canberra 1991
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    Harare report cover

    Place: Canberra, Australia 
    Dates: 7-20 February 1991
    Theme: Come, Holy Spirit - Renew the Whole Creation 
    Member churches: 317 

    1991 was the first time a theme had explicitly invoked the third person of the Trinity, and it did so in the context of the physical universe. Sections were organized under four sub-themes:

    - "Giver of life - sustain your creation!"
    - "Spirit of truth - set us free!"
    - "Spirit of unity - reconcile your people!"
    - "Holy Spirit - transform and sanctify us!"

    Read the official report of the 7th Assembly

    6th Assembly, Vancouver 1983
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    Vancouver report cover

    Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Dates: 24 July to 10 August 1983 
    Theme: Jesus Christ - the Life of the World 
    Member churches: 301 

    At this assembly on the western shores of Canada, a renewed emphasis on common worship was experienced under the great white tent standing beneath the summer sun. Hope for closer fellowship arose from dialogue on the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM) document, and such ecumenical experiments as the Lima Liturgy. At the same time, the nuclear threat and neo-colonialism glowered like dark clouds on the horizon. The Assembly proclaimed its theme: "Jesus Christ - the Life of the World", and carried out its work in the following issue groups:

    - Witnessing in a divided world
    - Taking steps towards unity
    - Moving towards participation
    - Healing and sharing life in community
    - Confronting threats to peace and survival
    - Struggling for justice and human dignity
    - Learning in community
    - Communicating credibly

    Read the official report of the 6th Assembly

    5th Assembly, Nairobi 1975
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    Nairobi report cover

    Place: Nairobi, Kenya 
    Dates: 23 November to 10 December 1975 
    Theme: Jesus Christ Frees and Unites 
    Member churches: 285

    "Jesus Christ frees and unites" the delegates sang in the midst of Nairobi's life:

    people from around the earth, standing before God in their captivities and disunities and naming a divine possibility.
    The assembly section titles echo concerns of that turbulent decade:

    - Confessing Christ today
    - What unity requires
    - Seeking community
    - Education for liberation and community
    - Structures of injustice and struggles for liberation
    - Human development

    Read the official report of the 5th Assembly

    4th Assembly, Uppsala 1968
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    Uppsala report cover

    Place: Uppsala, Sweden
    Dates: 4-20 July 1968 
    Theme: Behold, I make all things new 
    Member churches: 235 

    The assembly at Uppsala bore further testimony to the expanding membership of the Council, as well as the fresh breezes of Vatican II that brought Catholic observers to participate in the meeting and discuss further opportunities for cooperation. Sections were organized under the headings:

    - The Holy Spirit and the catholicity of the church
    - Renewal in mission
    - World economic and social development
    - Towards justice and peace in international affairs
    - Worship
    - Towards new styles of living

    Read the official report of the 4th Assembly

    3rd Assembly, New Delhi 1961
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    New Delhi report

    Place: New Delhi, India 
    Dates: 19 November to 5 December 1961 
    Theme: Jesus Christ - the Light of the World 
    Member churches: 197

    Best remembered for the incorporation of the International Missionary Council into the WCC, and the admission of 23 new member churches, including significant sectors of Eastern Orthodoxy and churches from newly independent nations, the Assembly focused on the theme "Jesus Christ - the Light of the World" with three sections on witness, service and unity.

    Read the official report of the 3rd Assembly

    2nd Assembly, Evanston 1954
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    2nd Assembly of the WCC

    Place: Evanston, Illinois, USA
    Dates: 15-31 August 1954
    Theme: Christ - the Hope of the World
    Member churches: 161

    The only WCC assembly to date held in the United States, it to some degree reflected - and certainly reflected on - the East-West tensions of the cold war. The Assembly divided its work into six sections:

    • Our oneness in Christ and our disunity as churches
    • The mission of the church to those outside her life
    • The responsible society in a world perspective
    • Christians in the struggle for world community
    • The churches amid racial and ethnic tension
    • The laity: the Christian in his vocation

    Read the official report of the 2nd Assembly

    1st Assembly, Amsterdam 1948
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    1st WCC Assembly

    Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
    Dates: 22 August to 4 September 1948 
    Theme: Man's Disorder and God's Design 
    Member churches: 147

    It was on the 23rd of August 1948, in Amsterdam, that the World Council of Churches was officially founded. 147 churches from different confessions and many countries came together to commit themselves to the ecumenical movement.

    At the assembly in Amsterdam, four sections were organized to examine aspects of the theme  "Man's Disorder and God's Design":

    • the universal church in God's design,
    • the church's witness to God's design,
    • the church and the disorder of society,
    • the church and the international disorder.

    Read the official report of the 1st Assembly