World Council of Churches

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USA Racial Justice Accompaniment Visit

18 April 2016

World Council of Churches Racial Justice Accompaniment Visit to the United States

April 19-25 2016

Charleston; Ferguson; Chicago

Background and motivation:

The Racial Justice Accompaniment Visit to the USA is a continuation of the WCC’s long history of racial justice work. As part of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, the WCC wishes to listen to and express support for people and churches in the USA, and to encourage the efforts of member churches and ecumenical partners in the US, as well as other justice-seeking movements on these issues. Overcoming racism and the need to focus attention on the life and dignity of its victims has been a major WCC concern for many decades. Regrettably, new forms of racism constantly emerge and racial violence is on the rise, not least in the USA with racially motivated violence and rhetoric having taken place in the last months.

The core question at hand is: how might the WCC as a uniquely global fellowship of churches work in partnership with the US churches in achieving racial justice? The WCC challenges churches to listen carefully, to understand the experience of people caught up in racial confrontation and to address racism in their own structures and life, as well as drawing on their work and experience in this struggle.

Main messages:

  • The WCC Racial Justice Accompaniment Visit is bringing Christians from many regions of the earth to listen carefully to the people in the USA whom they will encounter on their journey in April 2016
  • The WCC is deeply concerned by the recent racially motivated violence and rhetoric in the USA over the last months
  • Racial injustice is detrimental to people, churches, and all parts of society and must be overcome
  • Working for racial justice is a key element on the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace
  • In Jesus Christ, the WCC is called to the unity of churches and humanity; at the same time, we prize diversity as a gift from God
  • Achieving racial justice is key to building just and peaceful societies worldwide
  • Ecumenical efforts can play a crucial role in achieving racial justice
  • Together, the WCC and ecumenical partners, as well as other justice-seeking movements can play a major part in highlighting racial injustices where they occur, and in finding concrete ways to overcome them


Official delegation:

Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (head of the delegation)

Bishop Mark MacDonald, Anglican Church of Canada, WCC president of North America (Chicago only)

Metropolitan Geevarghese Coorilos, Syrian Orthodox Church, moderator of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (Chicago only)

Rev. Pil Soon Kim, Korean Christian Church in Japan

Mr Omar Haramy, Orthodox Church, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Israel-Palestine

Ms Aleshia Johnson, Anglican Church of Canada, member of WCC ECHOES youth commission and reference group on pilgrimage of justice and peace

WCC staff:

Ms Semegnish Asfaw Grosjean, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahado Church, WCC programme executive, international affairs

Rev. Theodore Gill, Presbyterian Church (USA), WCC senior editor

Dr Katalina Tahaafe Williams, Uniting Church of Australia, WCC programme executive mission and evangelism

Rev. Garland F. Pierce, African Methodist Episcopal Church, WCC senior assistant to the general secretary

Dr Fulata Lusungu Moyo, programme executive for the Just Community of Women and Men at  the World Council of Churches

US church leadership that will join parts of the visit:

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice moderator, WCC central committee (DC and Charleston)

Rev. Dr Angelique Walker-Smith, WCC central committee member and senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement, Bread for the World (DC and Chicago)

Rev. Dr Geoffrey Black, United Church of Christ, central committee member (Ferguson)

Rev. Dr Sharon Watkins, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), chair, WCC programme committee (Ferguson)

Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, United Church of Christ, ecumenical officer

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Chicago)

Bishop Sally Dyck, United Methodist Church, central committee member (Chicago)

Media contacts:

-       Rev. Garland F. Pierce, senior assistant to the WCC general secretary,, +1 864 550 0027
-       WCC Communications:

Social media activity:

Throughout the delegation’s visit, a series of hashtags will be used in social media, related to the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, such as #JusticeAndPeace, #FellowPilgrims and #PilgrimsOnTheMove, #WhereWillYouGo, and #transformed.

For more information about the use of these hashtags, please see: Guide: Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in social media

Ecumenical team listens and learns in racial justice journey to the USA

WCC member churches in North America