WCC GS CCA Assembly

His remarks reflected on the theme of the assembly, God, Renew Us in Your Spirit, and Restore the Creation.”

He opened his keynote address by reflecting that we are living in difficult times. The world is in crisis,” he said. Today, the existential threat is global and threatens the integrity of life on earth as we know it.”

The world is facing multiple shocks, he added. Yet, the political establishments are marked by an inability or unwillingness to address these multidimensional and complex challenges,” he said. Only a holistic and transformative response to these crises, which will even overwhelm the political and societal impediments, can give us respite from these existential challenges.”

Pillay reflected on how churches and ecumenical movements are called to respond to these global challenges, especially the climate crisis. The current ecological crisis is a major challenge for humanity,” he said. As God loves and cares for all creation, so must we express and exercise creation care.”

To be created in the image of God provides a great honour—and a great responsibility, Pillay continued. However, ideals of stewardship and dominion have often led to practices of dominion and devastation,” he said. Human beings have often regarded themselves as masters of the world, taming and domesticating it, doing as they please with its resources.”

The image of God also entails social and ecological responsibilities, added Pillay. While dominion has been interpreted as a divine grant to prey on the rest of nature without restraints, we regard dominion to mean the entire stewardship of nature,” he said. The appearance of creation is a glad act of embrace.”

Humans are the stewards of everything God has conferred on us, reflected Pillay. To be in the image of God is a vocation or calling, based on the biological fact that humans alone have evolved the peculiar capacity to represent, in modest caring ways, God's care for creation,” he said. We are called to be faithful stewards, but only so long as stewardship is understood as just and benevolent service on behalf of the interests of both human and non-human kind.”

God created not only the visible but also the invisible, continued Pillay. God is the sole source and providential benefactor of all being,” he said. While the kingdom is here and present in the world yet it is still to come.”

Faith is not a kind of make-believe utopianism, said Pillay. Faith is protest against apparent inevitabilities and the restoration of creation,” he said. From what we have been saying thus far, it is apparent that humans have a role to play in the restoration of creation.”

In addition to attending the Christian Conference of Asia assembly in India, Pillay, during a visit from 26 September to 3 October, will also visit WCC member churches, seminaries, and the Asian Ecumenical Youth Assembly.

Ecumenical Asia's 15th General Assembly looks to emerging challenges (WCC news release 26 September 2023)

WCC general secretary visits India for Christian Conference of Asia assembly (WCC news release 26 September 2023)