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Diakonia is churches’ response to the suffering of the world

02 July 2013

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, called diakonia an expression of faith that “embodies the signs of God’s reign and makes it visible in all experiences of hope amidst turmoil, in actions that heal and nurture people and relationships.”

Tveit shared these reflections at the DIAKONIA 21st World Assembly, held in Berlin, Germany, 1 to 8 July, organized by the DIAKONIA World Federation.

Diakonia is a Greek term used in the New Testament to describe ministries of service, mission and support. It is the source of the English words “deacon” and “diaconal” addressed in the theme “Diaconia - Healing and Wholeness for the World” at the event.

Tveit noted that churches have a specific responsibility in responding to the suffering of the world with loving compassion. Therefore diakonia, he added, is expressed in churches’ call for unity, efforts toward reconciliation with other faiths, protecting human rights and advocating care for the creation and environment.

Inspired by the theme of the event, Tveit shared how the call to unity is a call to diakonia, to a common service for healing and wholeness.” He stressed that the “ministry of diakonia is not, and indeed cannot, be divorced from the other marks of being church. It is part of the holistic expression of being church and also is, in itself, a full testimony of the good news of God’s reign.”

In his speech, Tveit also introduced the theme of the WCC’s upcoming assembly “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” The WCC assembly will take place from 30 October to 8 November in Busan, Republic of Korea.

Read full speech of the WCC general secretary

Article on “Diakonia” from the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement