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Planners promise exciting assembly for 2006; youth offer their energetic vision to the event

17 February 2005

Free photos available, see below

Planners for the ninth WCC assembly promised a dynamic event for 2006 during an update to the central committee Wednesday - exactly one year before the assembly.

Norman Shanks of the Church of Scotland, who coordinates the planning committee, said that a visit to the host city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, in November was "very encouraging". "It promises to be an excellent venue, and the assembly itself to be a very good experience indeed for all who attend it," Shanks said.

Events will take place 14-23 February, 2006, at the Pontifical Catholic University in this city of 1.5 million. It will be the first WCC assembly to take place in Latin America. The planning committee estimates that about 3,000 people will attend. Others may join for the visitors' programmes called "mutirao", a Portuguese word that connotes "coming together."

In his remarks Tuesday, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia said he welcomed the opportunity to have the assembly in this region. "The testimonies of the churches and the challenges faced by the societies throughout the continent will inform our work in Brazil," Kobia said.

During his visit to the region at the end of 2004, he had seen "a great hope for political and economic renewal," Kobia noted. "The role of the WCC in expressing support and solidarity with the Latin American people" during the difficult times of dictatorships "is greatly acknowledged and appreciated."

Tipping the balance

Youth stewards assisting at this week's meeting put their own spin on the assembly theme during a presentation to the central committee. Holding up cards with the assembly theme, "God, in your grace, transform the world" printed on them, the stewards inserted another card that said, "let youth". The "renewed" version of the theme then read: "God, in your grace, LET YOUTH transform the world."

In remarks to the delegates, various stewards shared their perspectives on global issues. "Let us not just talk about theology, but live theology," steward Penias Mulauzi of Zambia said in a closing statement. "Let's not just talk about faith, but live faith. Let's not just talk about youth but let youth talk."

They also wheeled out a large scale, showing the imbalance between "old" and "young" participation in the WCC. They invited Kobia, who on Tuesday urged delegates to create the youngest assembly ever, to come up and "balance the scales".

WCC member churches nominate 85% of the delegates to the assembly; the central committee confirms these nominations, and nominates the remaining 15% of delegates, based on the proposals and alternates submitted by the member churches for consideration. Later this week, the central committee will consider this 15 percent, with consideration to balancing the delegate body for youth and gender representation and other factors.

Planning committee members invited member churches to be in prayer for the assembly, to have discussions and Bible studies on the theme, to attend, make donations supporting the event, and watch for regular updates.

And, as central committee member Rev. Cibele Kuss of the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil put it, all are urged to "Come with open eyes, a joyful and open heart - really go deeper into our Latin American reality." [531 words]

Free high resolution pictures and additional information about the WCC central committee meeting are available at:

www.oikoumene.org > Central Committee

(Sidebar)

New Assembly website

A new website, atwww.wcc-assembly.info, will help WCC member churches and others keep up with the latest developments for the ninth Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil. WCC staff recently completed work to have the website ready for this week's central committee meeting.

The site features the colourful Assembly logo on its home page and gives an explanation of the logo's elements. Other links provide background information on faith in Brazil, share prayer and Bible study materials, outline the programme being planned, and lead to numerous additional resources including plenary topics and information on the business agenda.

The site is available in five languages: English, German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. [109 words]