The issue opens with a reflection on the assembly theme prepared by an international WCC working group drawn from different regions and confessional traditions.
“The theme of any assembly sets a frame around the gathering of the fellowship and offers a picture of our life and journey together, setting the direction for future travel,” according to the assembly theme reflection.
It offers biblical and theological perspectives on the theme, against the backdrop of critical issues confronting churches and humanity as a whole.
The WCC’s acting general secretary, Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, in his article places the love of Christ within a trinitarian context, offering reflections from an Orthodox perspective on the just, merciful, and compassionate God.
Several articles in the issue come from members of the international working group, while others are by younger theologians and researchers.
Susan Durber notes that it is the first time that the word “love” has been placed at the heart of a theme for the first time. She explores whether the call to an “ecumenism of the heart” marks a turning point toward an ecumenism inspired by love.
Christophe Chalamet explores the theological significance of the biblical text in 2 Corinthians (“For the love of Christ urges us on . . .”) that inspires the theme of the Karlsruhe assembly, while Victor Audu reflects on the challenges of building a reconciled community set out in Paul’s letter to Philemon.
Verena Hammes and Vladimir Shmaliy in their articles seek to place the theme of the Karlsruhe assembly in the context of previous WCC assembly themes, identifying continuities and highlighting differences.
The articles also pick up critical issues facing the churches and humanity as a whole, against the background of the assembly theme.
Cláudio Carvalhaes reflects on the forces that pull humanity away from Christ’s love, and examines where God’s healing is needed to regenerate the fabric of society, hearts, faiths, ways of living, and collective life.
Kirsty Borthwick focuses on how Christ’s love overcomes the powers of death, highlights three crises – COVID-19, climate change, and racial injustice – from the context of Western Europe.
Tijana Petković discusses the implications of the digital revolution for how human beings understand and practise love.
Meanwhile, writing from the multireligious context of India, Kerio Wetsah explores the need to manifest Christ’s love in a way that transcends ethnic, gender, religious, political, and economic barriers.
This issue of The Ecumenical Review follows an earlier issue that explored the WCC assembly theme in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and which is available in free online access.
The Ecumenical Review is published by Wiley on behalf of the WCC.
Read-only access to the article by WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca: God Is Love – The Experience of the Just, Compassionate, and Merciful God