Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia, gave an overview of the recent WCC conference on health and healing held in Berlin, and also reflected on preparations for the WCC 11th Assembly scheduled for 31 August-8 September 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany.
“Healing is central to the salvation message of the Christian faith,” said Phiri, describing the conference in Berlin. "We shared about the major role that the churches, their hospitals and medical services are playing in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Phiri also spoke of the challenges of our time: COVID-19, climate change, inequalities, the digital revolution, loss of hope and confidence in the possibility of a better future, lack of peace and justice for all God’s creation.
The WCC 11th Assembly, she said, will bring a sense of hope amid these trying times. “I think holding this assembly in Germany will highlight reconciliation of the churches without compromising on our justice agenda,” she said. “Second, hospitality is another theme where Germany has given clear leadership.”
Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life, led music and prayers for Ecumenical Day, including lively piano-playing that brought a spirit of joy to the occasion.
Roberts helped participants to become familiar with the WCC programmes and with the songs from different contexts that will be part of multicultural spirituality of the next WCC assembly, which will be held in that region.
Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, WCC interim deputy general secretary, spoke about how churches can form “one Christian household” on the way to the WCC 11th Assembly.
“An assembly is the pilgrims’ time to pause on the way,” said Pedroso Mateus. “It is meant to be the pilgrims’ hostel: a hostel that provides meals and common-table encounters that help the pilgrims to renew their energy and inspire them to hit the road again.”
Every WCC assembly has a theme, he continued. “If for the pilgrims of the ecumenical movement an assembly can be compared to the hostel on the way, the assembly theme can be compared to the ingredients of the hostel’s menu: if they are carefully chosen and treated, the pilgrims will go out singing redemption songs,” said Pedroso Mateus. “A day in the assembly will always start with morning prayer in which a gospel text featuring Christ’s compassion for the crowds will play a prominent role.”