At an ecumenical conference on 10 December in Stuttgart, Germany, commemorating 50 years of combatting racism, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit offered reflections on mission and on combatting racism. He also met with Bishop Frank Otfried July from the Evangelische Landeskirche in Wuerttemberg.
As part of a panel discussion, Tveit talked about the significance of WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania, in March 2018. “The spirit of African rhythms, music, and art pervaded the environment in which the conference was held, and in the times of our worship together,” said Tveit. “The conference also attended to the signs of the times that particularly affect African peoples and African lands – signs of both threat and promise.”
African churches have shown their quality of missional leadership, continued Tveit. “Many participants shared with me that they have found the future hope of the ecumenical movement in Arusha," said Tveit. “Indeed, it was a vibrant gathering of God’s people to give thanks and praise for God’s mercy and the continuous use of us for God’s mission.”
During a panel discussion on the history of combatting racism, Tveit talked about 50 years of the WCC’s racial justice work. “Confronting racism and fighting for racial justice is and should be our ecumenical contribution towards the renewal of the church,” he said. "Racism has been a central concern of the ecumenical movement since its inception.”
Tveit also summarized the history of the WCC Programme to Combat Racism. “History has established the legacy of the World Council of Churches in helping to end apartheid in Southern Africa," said Tveit. "President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have stood on this very ground to testify to the fact.”
Tveit noted that the Programme to Combat Racism was among the most controversial initiatives of the WCC when it was born. “Today it is remembered as one the most important things the churches have done together,” said Tveit. "It is time to renew the commitment to struggle against racism.”