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02 September 2003

World Council of Churches
Geneva, Switzerland
26 August - 2 September 2003


There will be six Hearings offered at Central Committee, all of which will take place on Wednesday, 27 August from 18.15 - 19.15 hrs.

1. Worshipping Together


The section on "Common Prayer" of the Special Commission Report presented last year to the Central Committee - and particularly the appendix, entitled "Framework…" - had been widely discussed, received contradictory responses and, unfortunately, generated frustration and disappointment. In its recent meeting, the Steering Committee admitted that it failed to communicate its vision of common prayer. Its intention was not to stifle ecumenical spiritual life but rather to clarify common prayer in order to build up confidence and mutual trust.


  • to help the Central Committee be informed of and own the developments that have emerged since its last meeting in the area of worship life;
  • to initiate the discussion in view of reformulating and affirming the intention of the Special Commission with regard to praying together;
  • to encourage the staff community in its task of preparing prayer services for WCC meetings and to create a climate of confidence in which assembly worship preparations will begin.

2. Human Sexuality

The Harare Assembly recommended a shift in focus from sexual orientation to human sexuality and noted in the Programme Guidelines Report:

"An ecumenical approach to issues of human sexuality would need to take into account Christian anthropology, a hermeneutic which could draw out biblical witness, the relationship between ethics and culture, undertaken in a way which would allow sufficient space for Christian women and men to explore the issues while creating and deepening mutual trust."

The three Bossey seminars attempted to develop such a space, and a number of lessons in how to open up discussion on issues of human sexuality will be presented.

The Hearing will open with an account of the findings and methods of the 3 Bossey Seminars and invite discussion from the participants of how in their own churches and contexts such discussion has been facilitated.

3. Religious Plurality

The hearing on Religious Plurality would take a point of departure in the Post San Antonio process, which solicited by the Central Committee seeks to pick up on the theological discussion on Religious Plurality and Christian Self-Understanding. This discussion, which has always accompanied the ecumenical movement and in various ways contributed to the missiological reflection, needs to continue also today, when the whole question of religious plurality has become a household word and the role of religion in public life demonstrates both positive but alas also many negative aspects. Following upon the statements of the CWME conference in San Antonio in 1989 and the Baar Declaration of 1990, Faith and Order, CWME and the Office on Inter-religious Relations and Dialogue will work together on issues of Christian theology in a world of religious plurality. It is hoped that this work will lay the foundation for some of the work of the 2006 Assembly.

After an introduction of the concept paper, which indicates the nature and scope of the project embarked upon by F&O, CWME and IRRD, the CC members will be invited to discuss the issues at stake.

  • Where do we go with the tension from San Antonio: no other Saviour, no limits on the saving powers of God?
  • Where would CC members as individual Christians like to go with the question of religious plurality and Christian self-understanding?

A "dialogue" person and a "mission" person among the CC members will be invited to shortly state their respective view opening up for a short but intense discussion.

4. Decade to Overcome Violence - Sudan, Healing and Reconciliation & General Update


The emphasis of the hearing will be the annual DOV Focus 2003, Sudan, Healing and Reconciliation. Participants will be briefed on recent developments including the Peace Talks Process and on emerging issues in overcoming violence. There will be sufficient time for discussion, both regarding Sudan and the annual focus, and the DOV generally.


To give Central Committee members insight into current DOV status, and especially the annual focus for this year.

To provide space for CC members to discuss and give counsel to the DOV process and specifically the annual focus 2003 and 2004.

5. Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)


The hearing session will contain a reporting of the work of the EAPPI, presented by two young Ecumenical Accompanists (EA’s), as well as a photo exhibition with pictures of activities EA’s have engaged in. Study materials will also be available.


To give an update of the program to the Central Committee and describe the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories through the personal experience of EA’s.

6. The Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA)

The HIV/AIDS epidemic will still have increasing impact for several years to come. EHAIA formally started in April 2002 as a support structure for the struggle of the African churches. The Hearing aims at drawing a picture of how the epidemic affects churches and their members, analysing church involvement in care and prevention, and the challenges from inside and outside the church vis-à-vis the magnitude of the problem.

Please fill out and return this form to the Information Desk in Geneva after your arrival.

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