World Council of Churches

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

Proceedings of the 51st CCIA meeting

Shanghai and Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, 9-16 June 2012

20 November 2012

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA)

Shanghai and Nanjing

People’s Republic of China

9 – 16 June 2012

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The 51st session of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs took place from 9 to 16 June 2012 in Shanghai and Nanjing, Peoples Republic of China. The meeting was hosted by the WCC’s member church in China – the China Christian Council (CCC) – and was an historic event in that it was the first WCC international ecumenical gathering to have taken place in China since the inception of the WCC in 1948 and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The CCC extended all possible assistance to coordinating the event, which heralded a new phase in the deepening of WCC-CCC relations.


During the meeting’s first session, the Commission received the address of the CCIA moderator in his absence. The address focused on changes in the geopolitical landscape and included sections on the emergence of BRIC[1], the financial crisis, democratization and emerging markets in Africa.

This was followed by the report of the CCIA director, which focused on emerging geo-political trends in Asia and their impacts on international relations as well as ongoing ecumenical engagement in international affairs and global advocacy. Both reports were well received, incited lively discussions and helped set the tone for issues to be addressed on the meeting agenda.

Reports were received from the Commission’s four working groups on activities since their last meeting in Kingston, Jamaica in May 2011, i.e., from the groups on: Peace in the community, Peace and security, Rights of migrants, migrant workers and stateless people, Freedom of religion and rights of religious minorities.

The groups’ deliberations during the meeting allowed for the development of agendas and programmatic foci for their future engagement up to the WCC’s forthcoming Assembly in Busan, South Korea – at which time the mandate of the present Commission terminates – as well as the identification of priorities for advocacy in the post-Busan period.

Four proposals for public issues statements were identified for the Assembly. They would initially be proposed for consideration at the 2012 Central Committee meeting. The statements would address: 1. Freedom of Religion and Rights of All Religious Communities in the emerging global context  and politicization of religion; 2. Human Rights of Stateless People; 3. Global Peace and Security such as in the Korean peninsula, nuclear considerations, the power shift to East Asia ; 4. Follow-up to the Porto Alegre mandate – An Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace.

The WCC general secretary joined the group sessions from June 15 onwards to guide the discussion on the future focus, size and structure of CCIA in the post-Assembly period in light of the report of the Governance Review Committee. The ensuing recommendations emphasized the need to refocus the activities of CCIA mostly within the framework of international affairs, working with a smaller Commission that could meet more frequently, i.e., on a yearly basis. Criteria for participation were identified and the need for continuity in membership from previous commissions stressed.

As the moderator had been unable to attend due to visa problems, the sessions were moderated by CCIA co-moderator Ms Noemi Espinoza, with the exception of sessions on the future programmatic thrusts, composition and structure of CCIA, which were moderated by commissioner Rev. Shirley DeWolf.

Spiritual Life

The spiritual life of the meeting was thoughtfully prepared by WCC worship and spirituality and CCIA staff in careful consideration of the venue, programme and participation. Sessions began each day with thought-provoking prayer, song and biblical reflection. Commissioners took full responsibility for leadership and participation, including the formation of an ad hoc choir to prepare and lead the music, which included songs in English, French, Spanish, Latin, Portuguese and the languages of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Spontaneous singing throughout the meeting was also an inspiring feature.

Participants were enriched by participating in church services in Shanghai on Sunday 10 June. They were able to witness the vibrant church life in the city as well as visit Dushuhu Church in an effort to understand the role this church plays in its specific setting of a newly-built town.

Experiencing China

Three seminars on “Understanding China” covered topics of economic development, religions and religious policies and the church in China today. This gave commissioners valuable insight into modern-day China along with the opportunity for question-and-answer sessions relevant to CCIA’s perspective on the issues evoked.

Visits in Nanjing

Visits were made both to the offices of the Amity Foundation and its printing corporation, and showed the wide range of involvement of the church in the life of Chinese citizens and Christians abroad through its Bible-printing operation. Commissioners also visited the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and learned of the various courses for students from all over China, this being the only nation-wide seminary.

Next steps

Working groups would continue to work on their areas of engagement up until the 2013 Assembly. There would be no meeting of the full Commission in 2013; rather, meetings of the working groups would take place as opportunities arose for the members to meet in conjunction with other events – at minimal cost.

[1] BRICS refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South  Africa, which were all deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development.

Download : Minutes51stCCIAmeeting.pdf