On a Joint Day of Reflection on Ecumenical Diakonia and Sustainable Development held 1 November, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and ACT Alliance reflected together on how the organisations work together in service to the world and how that work contributes to the broader agenda for sustainable development.
The ACT Assembly overlaps with the WCC Executive Committee meeting on 1 November.
Both organizations attempted to deepen their understanding of what it means to be both faith- and rights-based by taking a look at prophetic diakonia and advocacy as integral parts of the work of the WCC and ACT Alliance.
Participants heard from churches and ACT members engaged in ecumenical diakonia in alignment with the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals, then explored how to apply such best practices in their own contexts and programs.
Giving the keynote address of the day, WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom reflected on the links between a faith-based and a rights-based approach to diakonia. ”The question we should ask ourselves, is how we as an ecumenical movement can be a thick, and not just a thin, layer that holds us together. ... We are tasked to ensure that the rights-based approach to humanitarian work, does not conflict with a faith-based approach, so that we can build a life-affirming, sustaining fullness of life. … “
“Ecumenical diakonia is an integral part of the mission of the church,” Abuom said. “It is about transformation of lives and working to change a long history of asymmetrical power relationships between humanitarian actors.” Abuom added “Let us rise to this call, as we walk, work, and pray together.”
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olay Fykse Tveit reflected that this was the first joint meeting of its kind in the history of the WCC and the ACT Alliance. “It’s historic and we shall make it historic together in making known to one another our shared commitment,” he said. “All of this is God’s mission.”
Archbishop Dr Antje Jackelén, primate of the Church of Sweden, greeted both groups on behalf of the local hosts. “The Church of Sweden is a committed member of both the ACT Alliance and World Council of Churches, and we look forward to today’s interaction and dialogue in light of a strategy of international cooperation.”
”We are gathered together today, to see how we can improve our work,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, general secretary of ACT Alliance. ”But the work itself does not start today. It has been going on a long time, and we know that we are no longer today where we were years ago.”
Local hosts for the joint day was the Church of Sweden, the Uniting Church in Sweden and Diakonia.
WCC Executive Committee convenes in Uppsala, Sweden (WCC press release 1 November 2018)