What inspires you most about taking on this important role within the WCC?
Rev. Dr Walker-Smith: I am very humbled and honored to be serving in this important role. My faith inspires me to serve, as does the invitation and encouragement of my national church, the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc, sister churches and ecumenical partners in the North American region like our National Councils in the USA and Canada, Christian Churches Together (CCT) and Bread for the World (USA) where I serve
My inspiration also comes out of my love and responsibility to my ancestors and the unborn who my grandmothers taught me to pray and act for. I am especially grateful for the great legacy of my beloved parents, the Rev. Roosevelt V. Walker and Rev. Elder Geneva Willis Walker, who ensured and nurtured my spiritual formation, Pan African identity and welcome of my Indigenous lineage of the Muskogee as a Woman of faith nurtured in the Historic Black Church.
What are the top concerns in North America expressed at the assembly?
Rev. Dr Walker-Smith: An open process, facilitated by our National Councils in the USA and Canada, was used to determine the concerns in our North American regional meeting at this assembly. Our concerns reflect a follow up to the partnership with the engagement of the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace process that also complemented these pre-existing issues identified in both countries in North America.
Therefore. my presidential mandate is clear from the North American region and is consistent with the global ecumenical priorities. Our issues and concerns reflect our commitment to unity, mission, and justice that come together in our region and globally. I am grateful for this clarity.
The first concern agreed upon is connected to Racism, white supremacy, and /white privilege—all of which divide us. We seek to address the wounds and lament resulting from this scourge and advocate for transformation that moves us to justice and reconciliation for and with all
The second issue is not far behind the first: climate justice. This is a matter of urgency for and with all that disproportionately affects people affected by racism, white supremacy, and /white privilege.
The third is the generational wealth and income gap that is related to inequality, inequities, poverty and hunger. All of which beg the questions of how we promote human dignity, human rights and human flourishing that can lead to sustainable life expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and abundant life God intends for all
The fourth, also intersectional with the other three, is the reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and lands.
Advocacy within our churches, communities and with our policy leaders is critical to addressing these issues not only in interpersonal and communal spaces but in changing systems and structures that promote these concern/issues.
How will the WCC 11th Assembly help move you forward on the path of reconciliation and peace in North America?
Rev. Dr Walker-Smith: The assembly has given us motivation though its biblically based theme, and a model for a way forward. This has included the assembly’s spiritual and devotional life of prayer and discernment, space for storytelling, space for deeper reflection in Home Groups, Ecumenical Conversations, consensus approaches for majority and minority voices, fellowship over meals, and more. Decision-making for actions for implementation were also important.
The modeling of modules like this, at the assembly, that prayerfully invite and further the vision of love and reconciliation are critical tools for creating renewed and new evolutionary and impactful solutions. Such furthers our faithfulness unto God and the whole inhabited earth (Oikumene).