“We trust that God’s ways for us will not lead into darkness but into a new heaven and a new earth,” said Bedford-Strohm. “Christ has risen.”
At the WCC 11th Assembly, the fellowship experienced that this confession is not only empty words, Bedford-Strohm reflected.
“In our prayer services we have felt how the Holy Spirit has brought us together as people with completely different backgrounds and yet united as brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said. “This first meeting will give us the opportunity to get to know each other better.”
The executive committee, convening during some of the same days as COP27, will discuss numerous challenging topics, including the sustainability of the WCC’s budget and future programmatic work.
“Let us be grateful for all the denominational traditions that we come from,” he said. “And if we are in relationship with Christ, in prayer, in reflection and in action, we will always be in relationship with our fellow human beings and, in a special way, with our sisters and brothers in Christ all over the world.”
It is intolerable that those who call themselves “sisters and brothers in Christ” put each other down, spread hate against each other, or even kill each other, he emphasized.
“We can only live the mission of God when we do not only speak of the love of Jesus Christ but also radiate it with our own lives,” he said. “Therefore, we as Christ’s followers will never accept the divisions amongst ourselves.”
The WCC will give a witness of unity to the world—and thereby help the world to move toward more unity, Bedford-Strohm proposed.
“This is the calling of WCC,” he said. “What can we do to encourage our governments to support a path that will allow us to limit global warming to a tolerable level?”
The executive committee will also address what the pilgrimage of justice, reconciliation and unity means for our efforts to stop the killing in Ukraine, suggested Bedford-Strohm. “If we as a community of brothers and sisters from different sides of the war cannot be helpful in this, who else can be?” he asked. “Let us use this opportunity for exchange in this precious community and give the Holy Spirit a chance to move us, and maybe through us, move the world towards a just peace.”
Bedford-Strohm concluded that he greatly looks forward to his task as moderator in the coming eight years. “It is a source of hope for me,” he said. “It might be stubborn hope, sometimes even a desperate hope. But it lives from the deep conviction that God’s commitment after the flood, expressed in the rainbow, to never destroy the earth anymore and keep the eternal covenant of peace is firm and certain.”