Among the panellists for the press conference were Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC central committee; H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Nifon of Targoviste, vice moderator of the WCC central committee; Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice moderator of the WCC central committee, WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca; Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber, Evangelical Church in Germany, moderator of the local host committee; Bishop Prof. Dr Heike Springhart, Protestant Church in Baden, moderator of the local host committee; and Dr Frank Mentrup, mayor of Karlsruhe.
Abuom stated that she has high hopes for the assembly to create an atmosphere conducive to a spiritual celebration, celebration of creation, and celebration of life. She said, “My second expectation was that participants, delegates, all categories of people will acknowledge one another, listen, share openly as we discern God’s way and will for the future of humanity, the future of creation.”
Metropolitan Nifon shared hopes that the assembly will inspire and motivate the 352 member churches to continue their efforts to promote Christian visible unity. “We should not neglect the sufferings of this world and to alleviate all these sufferings. To contribute, rather, to the alleviation of such sufferings, we have to be united within our Christian world fellowship,” he said.
Swenson, vice moderator of the WCC central committee, shared hopes that both attendees and organisers will leave the gathering having grown more perfect in their love for both God and neighbour. She described the assembly as a fellowship of love, a countercultural movement to a world plagued by violence.
Sauca stated: “Karlsruhe will be a new beginning. We have to come together as Christians, more united in addressing the challenges of the world. Because Christian unity is linked to the unity of all creation. And as we say in the theme, God’s plan for the world is the unity of all.” He gave a brief context of the world today and its relevance to the assembly theme, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity” amid the new geopolitical reality, rising tensions and divisions. Amid theological debates, he urged the ecumenical movement to address crucial world concerns from a Christian perspective.
Bosse-Huber, Springhart, and Mentrup shared their welcome and joy at hosting the assembly. During the assembly, around 250 publicly accessible events will be offered at eight locations in throughout the city of Karlsruhe. From concerts, a creative youth programme, and worship services, to workshops concerning the topics of justice, peace, ecumenism and climate protection, local hosts are offering a plethora of activities.