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Second Report of the Programme Committee

Second Report of the Programme Committee addresses the issues of the programmatic work and the special commission and relocation of regional desks

02 September 2003

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

Second Report of the Programme Committee

1. Introduction
The Programme Committee had the responsibility of dealing with four issues at this Central Committee meeting:
· Receive and comment on the Activities Report.
· Receive and comment on the reports from the consultative bodies.
· Prepare for the Pre-Assembly Evaluation.
· Review and propose recommendations for the Programme Plans 2003-2005.

The first two of these issues were reported in the First Report of the Programme Committee (GEN 12). This report addresses the third and fourth issues.

1.1 Programmatic work and the Special Commission
The Programme Committee noted that one of the concerns expressed in the plenary discussion of GEN 12 concerned the way in which the report of the Special Commission impacts programmatic work. The report of the Special Commission and the reports of the Steering Committee are not in themselves programmatic work, but rather inform the whole ethos of the way in which the WCC works. The Programme Committee again affirms that the work of the Special Commission needs to be borne in mind by all staff teams and consultative bodies as they engage in programmatic work.

1.2 Relocation of regional desks
This issue of the relocation of the regional desks was referred back from the First Report of the Programme Committee for further consideration. The Committee had before it the minutes of the February 2003 Executive Committee (section 13.3 of the report and Appendix III) and document PRO 12 “Update on the Decentralization and Relocation Process.” The Committee recognizes that the processes of the relocation of the Pacific and Middle East desks have been painful and difficult. The Committee also notes that relocation of regional desks is different than decentralization of programmatic work. In learning from these experiences, the Committee makes the following recommendations:
a. The relocation of these two regional desks should be reviewed. As part of this, the Pacific churches are invited to offer their reflections on the relocation after a year. These reflections are to be presented to the WCC Executive Committee in August 2004 and will help form the basis for a fuller review of the Pacific desk relocation. A similar process may be used in the case of the Middle East at an appropriate time.
b. These reviews need to consider the impact of relocation on the work of the desk, on relations with churches in the region, financial consequences, travel time, and the impact on the WCC-Geneva, including the way in which visitors to Geneva from the region are welcomed and accompanied.
c. Any further relocation of regional desks should be guided by these reviews and by a commitment to treating all regions in a fair and equitable manner in order to strengthen and nurture relationships with the churches in the region.
d. Whenever relocation is considered, there must be careful consultation with churches in the region before decisions are taken.

2. Relating to Policy Reference Committees

2.1 The Programme Committee considered the programmatic implications from the Moderator’s Report, the General Secretary’s Report and the plenary presentations on “Caring for Life” and forwarded their comments to the relevant Policy Reference Committees for their consideration in making more detailed responses to these presentations.

2.2 The Programme Committee was pleased to receive information from Policy Reference Committees I and II which have an impact on programme work and note was duly taken of their recommendations in section three below. At the same time, there continues to be a challenge as to how the Programme Committee can entirely fulfil its mandate given the constraints of meeting times during Central Committee.

3. Programme and activity plans 2003-2005
The Programme Committee reviewed the updated Blue Book (GEN 7) “Working Together – Making a difference.” This document outlines the proposed programmes and activities made by staff and was discussed at the WCC Round Table in April 2003.

The Programme Committee heard that staff and the Executive Committee were recommending that the first two programmes listed in the updated Blue Book (GEN 7), namely “Strengthening the One Ecumenical Movement” and “Nurturing the Fellowship of Churches”, be merged together into a single core programme: “Strengthening the one Ecumenical Movement”. The Programme Committee endorsed this and thus recommends to the Central Committee that the programme work of the WCC consist of 13 programmes, plus involvement in the two International Ecumenical Initiatives (see Doc GEN 7.1).

The Programme Committee gives the following policy guidelines to each programme:

3.1 Strengthening the One Ecumenical Movement
The Programme Committee affirms the platform of ecumenical officers as an important network for strengthening relations with member churches. The Committee recommends the establishment of an informal group as a “think tank” to provide creative guidelines and counsel to the task of the office of the Church and Ecumenical Relations as it looks to the future. In each case, the Committee encourages balanced representation from the regions.

The Committee affirms the importance of the widening and deepening of the fellowship, but also recognizes that there is sometimes tension between these two objectives. There is also sometimes tension between both of these objectives and the programme work of the WCC. Therefore, the Committee requests that programme work be undertaken in close coordination with the office of Church and Ecumenical Relations.

The Committee affirms the priority of coherence of the ecumenical movement in light of the ongoing discussion of the reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement.

The mandate of the office of Church and Ecumenical Relations expands beyond its activities. Strengthening, deepening and widening the ecumenical movement is the task of the whole Council. For the sake of ensuring the coherence of the ecumenical movement both within the WCC and through its constituency, the Programme Committee recommends that the Central Committee request the Staff Leadership Group to find the appropriate in-house mechanism that will help the office of Church and Ecumenical Relations monitor these relationships as they are carried out by various staff in the activities and programmes of the WCC.

3.2 Ecumenical Institute, Bossey
The Programme Committee affirms the work of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey and encourages Bossey to continue its negotiation with the University of Geneva concerning the recognition of non-state universities with academic excellence around the world.

3.3 Dialogue with Neighbours of other Religions
The Committee affirms the importance of the programme of Dialogue with Neighbours of other Religions. The Committee asks the staff to give priority to developing the theological understanding and theological motivation for interfaith dialogue, including through theological seminaries and institutes. Priority should be given to work within inter-faith dialogue which seeks to overcome violence, to promote peace and to enable religious communities on the ground to work together to prevent and resolve conflicts. The programme should work collaboratively in the regions in order to support and accompany local initiatives at inter-faith dialogue.

3.4 Ecumenical Focus on Africa
The Committee affirms the continuing importance of the Ecumenical Focus on Africa programme and its four programme activities. These four activities provide a useful framework under which additional issues could be added, such as corruption and the arms trade. The Committee recognizes the difficulties of assessing the impact of this programme, given its broad focus and suggests that EFA needs greater visibility. The programme staff are requested to consider ways of increasing communication about the programme’s work with media, donors, member churches and other constituencies. The Committee suggests that the effectiveness of the programme could be increased through a multi-level approach, including the activities of local churches, the broader ecumenical family, and governments.

3.5 Decade to Overcome Violence
The Committee expresses appreciation for the fact that the Decade to Overcome Violence programme has become central to the life of the World Council of Churches and is integrated into the plans of most of the 13 core programmes. Moreover, the Committee is encouraged by the many activities being undertaken around the world within the DOV framework. The Committee reaffirms that DOV as a programme works as a coordinating mechanism and that the description in the updated Blue Book (GEN 7) does not represent the full range of the work being carried out by DOV. The Committee suggests that to be more effective, further work is needed on engaging structures such as the economy and state power and on exploring the issue of the use and misuse of power. Further efforts should be made to engage the regional ecumenical organizations in the Decade to Overcome Violence. The Living Letters methodology, pioneered by the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, is particularly commended.

3.6 Unity of the Church
The Programme Committee affirms the decision of the Standing Commission that priority be placed on those activities - ecclesiology; baptism; ethnic identity, national identity and the search for unity; the statement for the Ninth Assembly on the “Church Local and Universal, One and Diverse” - in its programme plans that will reach maturity for the 2006 WCC Assembly and will be presented for particular discussion at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission (2004). The Committee also welcomes the fact that the Study on Baptism will produce both a report and a volume of baptismal liturgies. The Committee commends the incorporation of theological reflection on peace by the programme as a contribution to the Decade to Overcome Violence.

3.7 Ecumenical Advocacy and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts
The Committee appreciates the way in which this programme is responding to regional and thematic issues related to conflict and overcoming conflict. This programme intentionally and continually asks the regions, especially in situations of conflicts, what are local churches asking for, how is the WCC needed, and how can the WCC advocate for and with them.

The Programme Committee affirms the new emphases in particular thematic foci such as impunity, human rights, and disarmament.

In order to have a wider impact with both member churches and those that the WCC seeks to influence (governments, United Nations, etc.), the Programme Committee asks the programme staff to be more intentional about acting with churches rather than acting on behalf of churches. Good examples of where this has functioned well are EAPPI and the process around the statement of Church Leaders United against the War.

The Committee notes that because of diminished staff capacity, it is not possible to carry forward all previous priorities. Thus the Committee asks the staff and the CCIA to implement a process of prioritization. By having clear priorities, the Council will ensure that when it speaks, its voice is strong, well-informed and offers the ethical and theological reflections that only the church can offer. Within this context, the Committee requests that priority be placed within the thematic foci on non-violent responses to conflicts and wars.

The Committee suggests that more ethical and theological reflection is needed on the on-going work in order to help the churches learn more about their particular role in promoting peace and human security.

3.8 Mission and Evangelism: Promoting the Ministry of Reconciliation
The Programme Committee affirms that the preparation of the CWME Conference in 2005 and its follow-up be the priority for the activities of the programme. The Committee recognizes that it is important that there be liaison with the Assembly Planning Committee in order to allow insights from the conference to be received and debated at the Assembly.

The Programme Committee affirms the suggestion by Central Committee to hold a younger missiologists’ consultation in relation to the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, and that this should be carried out from the existing Conference budget and additional resources made available by churches for this initiative.

3.9 The Challenge of Ecumenical Formation
Recognizing that ecumenical formation is distinct from interfaith learning, the Programme Committee affirms that both of these activities are important and are clearly related.

The Programme Committee affirms the ecumenical theological efforts being carried out in Central/Eastern Europe, the work of the three regional consultants, and the plan of action for the “Journey of Hope in Africa Continued.”

The Committee expresses a wish for more resources for scholarships for theological education as the majority of resources come designated for development education. The Committee noted that almost 50% of the budget for Ecumenical Formation is designated for scholarships and is just passed through.

The Committee encourages staff to emphasize awareness-building on disabilities at the annual meeting on Ecumenical Theological Education.

The Committee asks that the programme accompany ecumenical formation within the churches in Brazil in preparation for the Assembly.

3.10 The Ethics of Life and Alternatives to Globalization
The Programme Committee notes the complexity of issues included in this programme and affirms the programme plans related to: economic globalization; overcoming racism; ecumenical leadership of youth; overcoming violence against women and children; the ethics of life and eco-justice; Ecumenical Disabilities Advocates Network (EDAN); and women’s visions of the church. The Committee notes the change in name from the updated Blue Book (GEN 7) from “Overcoming Violence against Women” to “Overcoming Violence against Women and Children”.

The Programme Committee asks the Indigenous People’s programme to work with the International Affairs, Peace and Human Security team to develop a statement for the 2005 Central Committee on the loss of indigenous languages. This statement should include theological reflection and a challenge to churches to play a central role in preserving the world’s languages. The statement should further encourage churches to partner with bible societies and other organizations working to preserve oral traditions.

Both the presentations on disabilities at the plenary of the Central Committee and references made by the General Secretary in his report emphasized that the experiences and gifts of people with disabilities are integral to the reality of the whole church. In light of this, the Programme Committee recognizes that the Ecumenical Disabilities Advocates Network (EDAN) was one of the programmes that was deeply impacted by major cuts in budget as of 2003. The Programme Committee reaffirms that EDAN is an important commitment of the WCC situated within the JPC Team. Therefore, the Programme Committee encourages Central Committee members to challenge their churches to fund this as a special project, with additional designated funding.

The Programme Committee affirms the work done on youth and encourages staff to strengthen the ecumenical formation of youth on the lines proposed by Policy Reference II. The Programme Committee encourages the intentional sharing of participants’ lists of those who are involved in consultations for young theologians and young missiologists, stewards programmes and Bossey students in order to facilitate further participation by these young people in the life and work of the WCC. The Committee also lifts up the proposal from Policy Reference Committee II to strengthen the work on youth and economic justice and youth participation at the World Social Forum, particularly leading up to the Ninth Assembly.

The Programme Committee affirms the importance and urgency of challenges posed by new trends in genetic engineering and encourages staff to develop this work on the lines proposed by Policy Reference Committee II, drawing on the existing work within churches.

3.11 Diakonia and Solidarity
The Committee affirms that the Diakonia and Solidarity programme is expressing a genuine commitment to respond to the question raised at Harare: « how do we offer together our resources, witness and action for the sake of the world’s very future? » (Harare Report 1998, p. 149).

The Committee affirms the directions of work on the Diakonia and Solidarity programme, and the importance of the four core activities, with the following comments :
· Regional desks, especially in the relocated offices, need to work in close cooperation with the regional ecumenical organizations.
· WCC’s regional desks play important roles at the global level, but also in convening meetings and mediating between partners at the national and regional levels when there are difficulties.

The Committee notes the change in name of the activity « Creating Spaces for Analysis and Reflection », in the updated Blue Book (GEN 7) to « Creating Spaces for Analysis and Common Action ».

The Committee affirms the team’s use of new ways of working. In particular, the use of ecumenical enablers in the regions not only allows staff to carry out a broader range of activities, but also gives churches the opportunity to strengthen their relationships with each other.

3.12 Communicating the Fellowship
The Programme Committee affirms the critical role communication plays in increasing the visibility, engagement and funding for the WCC and its work. Such communication should be supported and carried out across the Council. The Programme Committee suggests that, in light of reduced resources and the critical need for professional communication in today’s world, the task of interpretation of the programmatic work with specific targeted groups needs to be addressed by both the Public Information and the other programme teams of the WCC. Each programme team should be responsible for allocating resources and creating a pro-active plan for communicating its work in coordination with the Public Information team.

The Programme Committee affirms the efforts to improve staff communication skills and to encourage better coordination in this regard.

3.13 Telling the Ecumenical Story
The Programme Committee recognizes that an important way of sharing the ecumenical story is through reception, accompaniment and hospitality offered to ecumenical visitors. The Staff Leadership Group is encouraged to ensure that these opportunities are maximized.

The Programme Committee affirms the on-going negotiations for co-publishing in other nations and languages. The Programme Committee encourages members of the Central Committee to assist the staff of Publications and Research concerning possible co-publishing opportunities.

Noting the decline in the budget for Language Services, the Programme Committee highlights the importance of adequate provision for translation and interpretation in the 2006 Assembly, including into Portuguese.

International Ecumenical Initiatives
(Time-limited programmes with specific funding based on tripartite collaboration)

3.14 Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
The Programme Committee commends the EAPPI as a good example of collaboration, acting with churches in a region and the region’s council of churches and encourages the continuation of this. The Committee acknowledges the risk that EAPPI participants are taking in this situation of conflict. The Committee also encourages the EAPPI to measure its impact through visibility and communication as well as through its work in conflict-resolution. As this is a time-specific initiative, staff are encouraged to continually evaluate the WCC’s involvement in this programme.

3.15 Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa
Noting the number of consultants employed by this programme and the report prepared for the Executive Committee on de-centralized capacities, the Programme Committee encourages the development of guidelines or memoranda of understanding between the consultants, the WCC and the hosting organizations. Care must be taken that these consultants are able to be consistent in presenting issues relating to wider WCC policies and programmes.

4. Financial Matters
The Programme Committee received members of the Finance Committee who presented information concerning the proposed programme budget for 2004. The Programme Committee was pleased to learn that the 2003 budget outcomes looked to be realistic.

The Programme Committee noted that although the financial crisis of last year had been addressed, regretfully with the loss of staff, the financial position of the WCC still needs further stabilization.

The Programme Committee expresses the hope that stability will soon be achieved and that the programmatic work of the Council can be advocated positively out of its own integrity rather than out of financial stringency.

The Committee was reminded that the projected budget for 2004 as given previously was only provisional. Likewise the figures in the updated Blue Book (GEN 7) had been a working tool for the round table meeting with funding partners in April 2003.

The Programme Committee affirmed the policy of the Finance Committee that expenditure should be in accordance with income and that the WCC should not engage in deficit budgeting and further agreed to work within the projected budget of CHF 39 million.

The Programme Committee expresses the need for the specific programme and activity budget lines to retain some flexibility with regard to the use of programme reserve balances, recognizing that programme fund balances are to be used, and that the resultant expenses are included in the approved budget.

The Programme Committee welcomes the initiatives being taken by the Finance Committee in respect to income generation and encourages them to continue to make this a priority. At the same time the Programme Committee expresses the hope that all Central Committee members will do their utmost in their own churches and regions to respond positively to income requests.

The Programme Committee requests the Staff Leadership Group to continue to monitor programme and activity expenditure using the following guidelines:
· The 13 core programmes remain.
· Those activities that are specifically focused toward the 2006 Assembly be a priority.
· Different approaches to the funding of different programmes may be appropriate.
· The on-going process of evaluation which was previously established should continue to be used in determining the viability of programmes.
· The work-load expectations upon staff need to be reasonable and viable.

5. Evaluations of Consultative Bodies
In light of the previous request for each consultative body to undertake a process of review, the Programme Committee sets the following guidelines:
· Explore how far the mandate (e.g. Bylaws, Terms of Reference) is seen as appropriate and relevant and review the mandate in this light, particularly as it relates to the search for unity.
· Enquire how far the consultative body has, in fact, been able to implement its mandate.
· Evaluate the size and composition of the consultative body.
· Ask what is the developing role of the officers of the consultative body in providing cohesion and guidance to the consultative body and staff on programme priorities and activities as they develop and are implemented.
· Consider the extent to which the members of consultative bodies report to and from their churches and the wider constituencies from which they come on the work, programme and activities of the consultative body.
· Determine what is the appropriate remit for the work of the consultative body, what for the specific staff team and what for other staff configurations (e.g. to what extent is the consultative body responsible for overseeing inter-team work?).

The Programme Committee asks that reports of these reviews be presented before its next meeting in February 2005.

6. Constituency evaluation of programmatic work prior to Assembly 2006
The Programme Committee gave careful consideration to the constitutional requirement to provide for a review of programmatic work at the next Assembly “to determine the overall policies of the World Council and to review programmes undertaken to implement policies previously adopted” [Constitution V. 1 c) 4) ].

This is something different from the on-going task of the Programme Committee to “provide for and make recommendations for regular evaluation of programmes and activities”[Rules VII 3. d)]. The criteria for this has previously been set by the Programme Committee, and all staff teams continually work within this evaluative framework.

The Programme Committee believes that as part of the review of programmatic work at the next Assembly, some evaluation on the part of the member churches and the broader constituency, building on the mid-term evaluation, needs to occur.

The purpose of the evaluation is to provide to the delegates a clear account of the work done by the Council since the Harare Assembly. The evaluation is also intended to strengthen each programme in its activities and to provide for greater coordination in the overall activities and programming of the WCC.

It is intended to:
· Consider the extent to which WCC programmes are used, owned and valued by the constituency.
· Evaluate the programmatic work done according to the priorities set by the last Assembly and the policy guidelines given by the Central Committee.
· Relate the work to the different and changing contexts in which it has been carried out.
· Consider the extent to which the Common Understanding and Vision (CUV) policy statement and the recommendations of the Special Commission have been incorporated into the programmatic work of the Council.
· Discern the emerging trends and challenges that should shape the future programme directions of the WCC.

The Programme Committee recommends the setting up of an External Evaluation team, and requests that the Staff Leadership Group find the appropriate mechanism for staff to provide the necessary information and liaison with this team.

The Programme Committee asks the General Secretary to set up the External Evaluation team and report to the officers in December 2003. Those invited to serve should have expertise in evaluation as well as knowledge of and commitment to the ecumenical movement. The team should consist of a maximum of five persons and, for continuity with the mid-term evaluation team, should include Ms Marion Best and Ms Sylvia Raulo. The other representatives should include at least one person from the Orthodox tradition and at least two persons from the South.

The Programme Committee specifically requests that the evaluation team seek opinions about the perceived life-cycle of activities, that is their continuation, phasing out, or relocation of responsibility to another ecumenical body.

The Programme Committee refers the following information to the External Evaluation Team to assist them in their work:
· “WCC Pre-Assembly Programme Evaluation Framework” (PRO 9) with commentary and amendments from the Programme Committee.
· “Aide Memoire” (PRO 14) which includes additional comments by the Programme Committee on the evaluation process.
· The summary document of evaluation criteria as previously established by the Programme Committee.
· The Report of the Special Commission.

The Programme Committee affirms the proposed timeline for the constituency evaluation as set out in PRO 9, noting however that, given the conference in May 2005, additional evaluation with regard to CWME should be submitted to the September 2005 Executive Committee.

The Programme Committee suggests that this constituency evaluation be budgeted for within the Assembly preparations.