Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, moderator of the WCC central committee, reflected on how appreciative the WCC executive committee has been for the host churches in Nigeria as the governing body met in Abuja from 8-14 November.
“We have been impressed by the religious vibrance of this country, not only by the beauty of the countryside, by the beauty of the people, but by the strong religious basis of Nigeria,” said Bedford-Strohm, highlighting an executive committee statement on Nigeria and its regional context. “I want to assure you of our prayers.”
Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley, vice-moderator of the WCC central committee, spoke of the WCC executive committee’s statement on the COP28. “The WCC is interested and is concerned about all justice issues, and climate justice is one of those issues. We are calling for greater attention to renewable energy, that we will now find alternative ways for sourcing and finding energy for our populations, that we will give great attention to global warming. It is important that, as we call for more renewable energy, that we are also calling for greater climate financing,” she said.
H.E. Archbishop Dr Vicken Aykazian, vice-moderator of the WCC central committee, expressed deep appreciation for the WCC’s statement on the need for international response to the needs of Nagorno-Karabakh refugees.
“Why the World Council of Churches?” he asked. “Because the World Council of Churches is an important organization in the world that tries to find a solution for those people who are suffering. We thank God for this organization and we thank the leadership of the World Council of Churches for following, and continuing to follow, what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, WCC general secretary, in addition to offering an introductory overview of the WCC, spoke about the executive committee’s statement on Palestine and Israel.
“We work on a very broad scale of interreligious cooperation and collaboration in the field of peace efforts,” he said. “Since the attack of Hamas on Israel on 7 October, there has been continued retaliation by Israel, and so the situation in the Gaza is really, really bad. We have called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Our view as the WCC is that violence and wars do not contribute to peaceful negotiations.”
The press conference was offered a panel discussion followed by a question-and-answer session. In introducing the panel, His Holiness Rev. Dr Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide, WCC president from Africa, gave a heartfelt message of gratitude to the WCC member churches and communities in Nigeria. “For this we say, thank you, and God bless you all,” he said.