Abuom reflected on the challenges facing members since the last assembly eight years ago and shared her hopes for this assembly. “At its best, the assembly is a spiritual celebration of the power of God’s love to renew our minds and hearts so that we may become a countercultural force driven by solidarity with the most vulnerable people and God’s creation,” she said.
“Listen carefully to youth among us,” urged Abuom, noting that many young people are anxiously struggling as they voice their fears about justice, peace, and the future of the planet. “They are the generation that is experiencing the first catastrophes of climate crisis and the last generation that can take any action to stop global warming.”
The assembly gathers around the theme: Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity. Abuom spoke of the various ways Christ’s compassion and love for those at the margins will be lifted up through all aspects of assembly including morning prayers, thematic plenaries, and home group discussions.
An overarching feature of this gathering is a consensus model for decision making. “This strong commitment to the unity of the church and the unity of humanity, and our readiness to search for a common mind in the power of the Holy Spirit, mark our deliberations according to consensus procedures,” said Abuom. “I trust that the assembly theme together with the consensus procedures and our shared commitment to go forward together in unity will also help us to address in constructive ways tensions and difficulties that divide humankind today.”
At the conclusion of the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan in 2013, member churches called on one another to embark on a “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” and to engage in transformative action. This journey focused around four key areas: the climate crisis and care for creation; economic injustice and the struggle for an economy of life; violence and wars and the work for just peace through peace building and reconciliation; racism, ethic pride, and oppression of women and the affirmation of human dignity.
“We can and must be bold and prophetic, standing up for justice and peace,” declared Abuom. “To proclaim Christ’s love and to struggle for human dignity and the life of creation is our call and our mission in the world.”
“In Christ’s love lies the key to our unity,” she said, strongly encouraging delegates and member churches to “continue walking, praying and working together as pilgrims on the way of justice and peace with the purpose of healing, reconciliation and unity for all.”