“COVID-19 has, with alarming speed, delivered a global economic shock,” said Abuom. “It has had devastating effects on women, the young, the poor, people employed informally, and those working in contact-intensive sectors.”
With more effective infection control and vaccine deployment, the world economy is expected to recover in 2021, she reflected. “To limit long-term damage to the economy and facilitate the recovery, governments largely chose to pursue expansionist fiscal policies, hence creating budget deficits and increasing public debt,” she said. “The global health and economic crises have generated steep contraction in all private financial flows to developing economies.”
COVID-19 has amplified existing inequalities, in particular with those groups who are most vulnerable, noted Abuom. “In all regions, there is a marked gender gap in business closure rates as women entrepreneurs have been disproportionately affected by the contraction in economic activities as a result of COVID-19,” said Abuom. “The pandemic is also worsening income inequalities within countries.”
In spite of the tremendous challenges, churches have shown commitment to move together, Abuom concluded. “The task ahead of us is huge, but so is the opportunity for the church to re-establish itself in new ways, to reach new people with the love of Christ, and support the vulnerable and those in need,” she said. “By God’s grace, we are committed to stay and move together.”
Abuom included in her address an update on the process of election of the general secretary. “Though an in-person meeting is not possible in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is hoped that an in-person meeting of the central committee will take place before the assembly in early 2022.”
According to the WCC rules and supplement outlining the process of the election of the general secretary, the central committee had established that the election must take place at an in-person meeting of the central committee in a closed session, following the procedures, including presentation of the report of the search committee.
The World Council of Churches central committee will convene via video conference from 23-29 June to prepare for the 11th WCC Assembly, taking place in 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany under the theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” The WCC governing body will also address business matters and strengthen the WCC fellowship through sharing and prayer.