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Consensus, collaboration emphasized at WCC meeting in Greece

11 October 2017

From responding to divisions within churches and communities, to addressing fair representation within the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration (PCCC) of the WCC met from 2-6 October in Rhodes, Greece, hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, through the hospitality of H. E. Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes.

Co-moderated by H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima and Bishop Simo Peura (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland), the PCCC received information about the ongoing work of the WCC Faith and Order Commission and handled several items such as consensus, preparations for the WCC 11th Assembly, membership matters, “fair and adequate” representation, constitutional changes, and prayer and “common prayer” in the ecumenical movement.

The programme included also several visits to holy places and archaeological sites in Rhodes as well as encounters with local Orthodox communities. PCCC members absorbed the history of the island of Rhodes as well as the vivid life of today’s Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Gennadios said: “It is by God’s blessing that this meeting is held on the island of Rhodes, a place which is under the spiritual and administrative jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and is indelibly part of the ecumenical history and has hosted many inter-Orthodox and ecumenical meetings and milestones. Rhodes is characterized by its place as a crossroads of civilizations, historically home to Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian, Jewish, and Muslim communities.  The Eastern Orthodox Church continues to study and advance the positive results of the great event of the convocation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church held in 2016 in Crete, Greece”.

The Committee’s members shared experiences and activities from their church life, included some common challenges of responding to divisions within churches and communities, violence, including the recent massacre in Las Vegas (USA), racism, increased militarization, and incidents of corruption in governments, as well as accounts of reconciliation, cooperation and hope.

In addition they described instances in which societies used to inter-religious cooperation had begun to experience growing radicalization and increasing inter-religious tension.

Participants discussed religious freedom as an issue of high concern for Christians in Indonesia, a country with millions of Christians living among the largest Muslim population in the world.

Bishop Simo Peura said: “The anniversary of 500 years since the Lutheran Reformation has offered occasion for commemoration of the rich and meaningful history of the churches of the Reformation and also reflection on division within churches”.

In Russia, the country is marking 100 years since the Russian Revolution, in the same year that the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes 100 years since the anniversary of the Bishop’s Council which elected Patriarch Tikhon, now revered as Saint Tikhon.

PCCC is a committee of the WCC Central Committee. The meeting in Rhodes is the second PCCC meeting since the WCC 2013 Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea. It consists of 14 members of the Central Committee, half of whom are Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox.

According to WCC Constitution and Rules, the main responsibilities of PCCC are: to continue the authority, mandate, concerns and dynamics of the Special Commission for Orthodox Participation; to give advice and make recommendations to governing bodies during and between assemblies; to facilitate and improve participation of the Orthodox in the entire life and work of the WCC; to offer counsel and provide opportunity for action in matters of common interest; and to give attention to matters of ecclesiology.

Inspired by daily prayers, the committee had a productive meeting, in a spirit of Christian fellowship and love, and remains committed to continue to fulfil its mandate.

The next PCCC meeting is planned for May 2018.

About the WCC Central Committee