In her welcome address, WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, underlined the importance of the assembly as an opportunity to reflect together on how critical Asian issues can be brought up during the assembly.
“We cannot underestimate the importance of the assembly to the ecumenical movement, as it charts the direction for the WCC for the next eight years, taking us to 2030,” she explained.
Moderated by WCC president for Asia, Rev. Dr Sang Chang, the two-hour online pre-assembly meeting gave room for both dialogue with plenty of food for thought around pertinent issues in the Asia region, as well as concrete information about assembly procedures and the opportunity this unique event offers, not only to influence the future direction of the ecumenical movement, but also to connect, worship, and rejoice together in a spirit of reconciliation and unity.
In his opening remarks, Christian Conference of Asia general secretary Dr Mathews George Chunakara praised the WCC for organizing and providing this opportunity to share an orientation of assembly procedures and discuss how to best contribute to the assembly and bring up pertinent issues from an Asian perspective.
He later went on, in more specific terms, by mentioning both ongoing and emerging issues in an Asian context, such as the struggle in Myanmar, the most recent crisis in Sri Lanka, and the ongoing crises in West Papua and the Philippines, which should be brought the forefront of the agenda at the upcoming assembly.
Chunakara also expressed grave concerns about growing religious extremism, freedom of religion of minorities, along with politization of religion and religionization of politics in different countries, climate change, statelessness, and other human rights issues.
“There are so many urgent areas to cover at the assembly, also from an Asian perspective, but we need to identify some of the most pertinent issues to highlight as part of our ecumenical engagement, Chunakara concluded.
After welcome greetings and opening remarks, participants were given an introduction to the assembly and an overview of the programmes, the processes involved and the governance, followed by a presentation of public issues and elaborations on consensus methodology and decision making.
Also, exhibitions and workshops at the assembly were presented, along with insights into the ecumenical youth engagement.
After concluding remarks by the moderator with sincere thanks to all participants, Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang of the Toraja Church, Indonesia, led closing prayer and benediction.