By Frans Du Plessis (*)
Church ministers from the Evangelical Church of Westphalia in Germany and the Evangelical Church of the River Plate in Argentina met recently in Bielefeld, Germany, to reflect on the practical meaning of the topic “Church and Politics: Realization and Perspective.”
The 21 ministers, who were together from 20 to 28 June, discussed the topic in light of the upcoming World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly, whose theme is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace. The assembly is being held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 30 October to 8 November this year.
The Evangelical Church of Westphalia also created a booklet that will encourage congregations to follow the upcoming assembly and adopt the call to justice and peace in their own congregations and communities.
Participating pastors were encouraged not simply to discuss the topic but also to explore the absence of peace and justice in their home congregations and local communities.
Speaking of positive outcomes from local application of the theme, one pastor shared the experience of fostering peace between different denominations and religions, which affected not just a single group or denomination but the whole community, participants said. Another shared how good and thoughtful guidance led to gender justice in their local parish.
One of the members said: “Even though most of the members of this gathering will not be at the Busan assembly, this is their opportunity to be part of the assembly and to have influence.” Every local congregation was challenged to have an impact in Busan.
To that end, congregants of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia composed a booklet that will inform readers, but also encourage each member of every congregation in their area to initiate conversations about the assembly theme. The booklet was presented during the meetings.
The gathering of pastors and distribution of the booklet were meant to encourage other churches around the world to explore the assembly theme, employ it in their own work for justice and peace, and to pray for and with the assembly.
The discussions appeared to reveal a strong need for dialogue and discussions among churches, countries and religions to bring the theme alive in every setting.
The theme is meant as a prayer, but also an action. ”It calls for action and responsibility, and we can only take action if we are informed,” one of the pastors said.
The is also creating an assembly brochure. Churches wishing to study the assembly theme can also use the WCC Assembly congregational resource called Pilgrimage to Busan, which is available in English, French, German and Spanish.
(*) Frans Du Plessis is a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and works for the Communications department of the World Communion of Reformed Churches based in Switzerland.