World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

14 February 2006

Message from the archbishop of Canterbury

Message for the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches


It gives me great pleasure to send you my warmest greetings as you begin the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. I look forward to joining you in Porto Alegre later this week and in the meantime I will be praying with you as you meet, using the words of the Assembly theme, "God, in your grace, transform the world".

As we pray these words together, we keep in mind not just the world that is to be transformed but the work of this Assembly, the churches we each represent and indeed the future role of the World Council of Churches. In doing so, our underlying desire is surely for the combined witness of our churches to have its full impact; that it will keep pace, in this fast-changing and often perplexing world, with what it means to be an effective sign and instrument of God's transforming grace. I very much welcome the participation of young people at this Assembly to help maintain this kind of focus on the unfolding needs of the future and not just the patterns of the past. Yet if we truly believe that the churches to which we belong are so deeply implicated in God's transforming purposes, we dare not be complacent, especially when we come together to assess our shared priorities. In the face of so much disorder in our so-called world order, we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed or distracted, however conscious we are of our own fractured condition as churches. As those who carry the name of Christ, we must instead draw strength and clarity of purpose from our utter dependence on the One whom we know to be "full of grace and truth". In Christ too, we can find renewed impetus in our painstaking quest for theological convergence, in the knowledge that this also will be used by God, in his grace, to transform the world, opening up, as it does, new possibilities for common mission as divisions are healed and we deepen our fellowship together.

With such confidence in Christ then, in the words of the Petrine Epistles, may "grace and peace be yours in abundance" this Assembly, for the sake of God's world and for His glory.