Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, WCC interim deputy general secretary and director of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order, offered an introduction to the ecumenical movement and to the WCC and its assemblies; spoke about the challenges that the WCC has faced in recent years; and reflected on the theme of the assembly, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” against the background of global trends shaping today’s world.
Delegates from the Protestant Church in Switzerland, Evangelical Methodist Church, and the Old Catholic Church prayed together.
Pedroso Mateus placed love at the center of his sermon—love in a world faced with growing polarization, politics of fear, hate speech, war, racism and nationalism. “Jesus showed deep compassion for human beings—their suffering touched him to the bottom of his heart,” said Pedroso Mateus. “This compassion of Jesus and his uncompromising solidarity provide access to the theme of the assembly.”
That is why, he added, daily biblical texts for morning prayer and Bible study are taken from gospels’ stories of compassion.
He added that Christians of all traditions are called to live this compassionate love that leads to reconciliation and unity.
The service was preceded by an intergenerational panel in which participants were challenged to share what they expect as results of the WCC 11th Assembly.