Pillay delivered the keynote address of the assembly on the 22 April in what marks his first visit to India as WCC general secretary. The theme for the assembly is “The Hour has come; Let us get going...”
There are nine WCC member churches in India, all of which will be present at the assembly. Pillay will listen to the joys and struggles of Indian Churches and express solidarity with Christians in India amidst their challenges.
WCC member churches in India include: Bengal-Orissa-Bihar Baptist Convention, Church of North India, Church of South India, Council of Baptist Churches in North East India, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, Methodist Church in India, Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches, and United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India.
Pillay said that the National Council of Churches in India has been a beacon of hope to Christians. “Through the years, many who have been mentored through this fellowship have enriched the WCC and the global ecumenical movement,” said Pillay. “The ecumenism we seek and pray for is made real locally.”
We live in a world in which the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, Pillay continued. “We live in a world where we continue to devalue human lives, treat people as objects, care less that millions are dying, show no respect for human rights and continue to thrive on self-gain,” he said. “Our world is in crisis!”
Pillay addressed the climate emergency; economic justice; wars, conflicts, and violence; health and wellbeing; and religious intolerance. He also discussed the importance of Christian unity and witness, as well as transformative discipleship. “Christian unity can serve the world for good,” he said. “While we are concerned about the news of the minorities being attacked and harassed for their religion, ethnic background, race in many countries, including in India, we encourage the governments to reassure those affected and take action against those who perpetrate violence and hatred against the minorities.”
Pillay will also participate in an interfaith evening of prayer. WCC staff are also coordinating programmes related to water justice and youth involvement. Pillay is being accompanied by Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Water Network, and Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement in the Ecumenical Movement.