“We are now walking towards the central committee meeting in June with many transitions accomplished,” he said. “The time-intensive management of transition in our internal affairs as WCC now comes together with the extremely demanding task of presence and involvement in a wounded world.”
Climate change is one of those challenges. “Where are we as WCC when droughts destroy the basis for living of those globally, who have had to struggle anyway?” he asked.
The church can challenge the state to act responsibly, Bedford-Strohm reflected. “How credible are our humanitarian activities if we consciously or even programmatically remain silent towards the driving forces, which cause the suffering, which we deplore?” he asked. “How can we not become political if political decisions are the only way to overcome the suffering?”
Bedford-Strohm also addressed the suffering connected with the Russian invasion in Ukraine. “So many people, above all Ukrainian civilians including women and innocent children, whose houses are destroyed and whose lives are threatened by bombs and rockets, go through terrible suffering,” he said.
He added: “…whether we can find consensus amongst our member churches on ways to overcome the daily suffering in this war is not only a question of church politics. It is a spiritual question. It is an ecclesiological question. It touches the very basis of our being as the church.”
The world needs the voice of churches, Bedford-Strohm urged. “Let us open ourselves up to Christ, whose love moves us reconciliation and unity.”
The WCC executive committee is convening 22-26 May by video conference to conduct the regular business of the WCC for the first half of the year, and to review preparations for the central committee meeting 21-27 June in Geneva.
Moderator's Address at the WCC executive committee meeting, May 2023
WCC executive committee to convene, prepare for post-assembly period (WCC news release, 19 May 2023)