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WCC ‘Working Together’ meeting strengthens relations with specialized ministries

WCC ‘Working Together’ meeting strengthens relations with specialized ministries

Participants in the Working Together meeting share signs of peace with each other, in the chapel of the Château de Bossey. All photos: Albin Hillert/WCC

08 May 2019

The World Council of Churches (WCC) “Working Together” meeting, including an “Ecumenical Market Place,” took place on 7 and 8 May at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute.

The WCC Working Together meeting takes places annually, as an opportunity to increase shared knowledge between specialized ministries and the WCC. The meeting seeks to strengthen the spirit of collaboration and mutual support, particularly in relation to WCC programmatic work. It also helps to deepen common understanding around specific issues and enhance WCC planning and reporting mechanisms.

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Gathered in the medieval chapel of Bossey, participants shared moments of prayer together, for reconciliation and unity.

This year, the Working Together meeting focused on witness and service, sharing updates, deepening cooperation and discussing funding. In addition, the WCC introduced the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace 2020 regional focus with churches in the Pacific-Oceania and the thematic focus on “Caring for People, Land and Earth”.

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The WCC further introduced Outline Plans for 2020 during a marketplace exchange to gather feedback on proposed activities and identify opportunities for collaboration. The WCC reported preliminary financial results for 2018, presented a framework budget for 2020 and provided an update on the Green Village building project.

In anticipation of its 11th WCC Assembly in 2021, the Working Together meeting set out to initiate reflection with specialized ministries on the theme of the assembly, "Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” and discuss cooperation with specialized ministries in preparing and resourcing the event, including plans for a pre-assembly meeting in 2020.

Sharing an update from the work of the WCC’s Assembly Planning Committee, Rev. Dr Mary Schaller Blaufuss from the United Church of Christ - Wider Church Ministries reflected, “The Assembly is a place where the Ecumenical Movement comes together, for witness within and beyond the Church – both as the body of Christ and as a movement.”

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Rev. Dr Mary Schaller Blaufuss brought updates from the Assembly Planning Committee.

“In a world of pluralism, the theme also gives us the sense of being part of the whole creation, the whole world, and to emphasize the inclusiveness we wish to live,” Blaufuss added.

The meeting also sought to strengthen ecumenical advocacy for gender justice, building on the outcomes of the Global Consultation Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women.

WCC deputy general secretary Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri reflected, “When we met in Jamaica, it was to say, have we made progress, and where are the difficult areas?”.

“Our conclusion was that in many ways we have made progress,” said Phiri, noting that the Jamaica consultation was also hosted by churches with women in leadership positions.

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“But there are also areas where we have been moving backwards, and on issues of gender violence we see that brutality increases,” Phiri added. “These issues are not just for the WCC as a fellowship to address, but require broad ecumenical collaboration.”

“How does the prophetic voice manifest itself in this?” Phiri prompted.

Rev. Nicole Ashwood, WCC programme executive for Just Community of Women and Men, continued, “I want to invite us to think about pushbacks, about gender justice, also in light of the theme of the upcoming WCC Assembly. How do we move, towards reconciliation and unity? Who is it that does the reconciling, what is it that we seek to reconcile on? Where is it we want to go in this process?”

“And let us remember that reconciliation has costs, on both sides,” Ashwood concluded.

WCC maps course toward unity wrapped in ‘the power of love’ (WCC press release of 10 April 2019)

WCC planning committee: 11th Assembly in 2021 “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity” (WCC press release of 16 January 2019)

Just Community of Women and Men

WCC Ecumenical Institute Bossey