President Maraea of Maohi Protestant Church introducing WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit during Synod Closing Worship. Photo: Katalina Tahaafe-Williams/WCC

President Maraea of Maohi Protestant Church introducing WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit during Synod Closing Worship. Photo: Katalina Tahaafe-Williams/WCC

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, opened his ecumenical tour of the Pacific region on 29 July. Tveit will visit Maohi  Nui (the French Polynesia) first, and he addressed the Synod for the Maohi Protestant Church. The WCC delegation will visit the region 29 July to 13 August.

Tveit said in this address to the synod: “You have belonged to the fellowship of the WCC for many decades. Your relationship to the global ecumenical movement has been connected to how your country has developed its relative but not full independence in the processes of decolonization that happened in many parts of the world after the WWII.”

He added, “You are particularly known in the WCC for your brave and consistent fight for the life of all creation in your area and against the testing of nuclear arms that has caused so much suffering and worries for you here.”

Tveit underlined: “You have been leading in the global ecumenical protest against developing, testing and use of nuclear arms.”

Tveit said also "You have now in a brave way raised the question of justice for the victims and the whole population here suffering for generations of the severe defects and health problems caused by the extensive testing of nuclear arms some decades ago. This risk was known before the tests were done, now there is a lot of evidence that the damage has happened and continue to happen."

Tveit mentioned especially the late John Doom, a well-known ecumenist and advocate for human rights. “Papa John was a tireless advocate for a world free from nuclear weapons, and has given all of us an example to follow.”

The WCC strongly supported the process that led to a decision on 7  July by the United Nations to ban the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons and provide pathways for their eventual elimination.

Tveit invited the synod to share with him “… the challenges you are dealing with and particularly have on your agenda from the call to be united in faith, hope and love, and share some reflections about what that means in our time for the fellowship of the World Council of Churches and our common witness.”

Tveit added: “The churches here in the Pacific are known worldwide for their spirituality and worship life. We are in a global ecumenical fellowship where the accountability to one another is nurtured through sharing and learning, but also the openness for critique that can lead to improvement of our lives and of our one world.”

"When I listen to you, I see more meanings in this Christian freedom exposed in your situation. It is the about the freedom from the power of sin. " He added "Our sins, but also the sins of others. Justice can be restored if there is a proper sharing and acknowledgement of the truth, also about the damage done to the population here from the nuclear testing." Tveit underlined "Both you and the French need the freedom that can come from speaking the truth about what happened and the effects it has on the coming generations."

Tveit concluded: “The pilgrimage is also a journey together to find our common self-respect and to see how we are contributing to the justice and peace of the world through our practice of our Christian faith, hope and love. We should not underestimate what we can do together.”

WCC delegation:

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit is accompanied on the tour by the WCC president for the Pacific Rev. Dr Mele’ana Puloka  and by Rev. Taaroanui Maraea, member of the Executive committee of the WCC from the Pacific region, as well as Rev. Dr Katalina Tahaafe Williams, program executive for Mission in the WCC, with a special responsibility for the connections to the churches in the Pacific region.

Programme for the visit to the Pacific region:

Tonga will be next on the itinerary with a stopover in Auckland New Zealand to meet with Pacific church leaders on the way to Tonga.

In Tonga there will be ecumenical meetings, worship’s, audience with the King of Tonga, meeting with parliamentarians, and with women and youth. The delegation is hosted in Tonga by the WCC member church there which is the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist).

Then from Tonga to Fiji with a stopover in Wellington New Zealand to meet with the NZ National Council of Churches.  The delegation is hosted by Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma which is the WCC member church there. The general secretary will arrive at the opening of the Church Annual Conference and he will be preaching at the opening service. There will be ecumenical roundtable with the Pacific ecumenical instrument, there will be meeting with the COP23 presidency, and with government including the President of Fiji.

Read the presentation by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the WCC

Member churches in the Pacific

Banning nuclear weapons, 122 governments take leadership where nuclear powers have failed, WCC press release 8 July, 2017