WCC Communication shares a brief overview of the Central Committee meeting held in Geneva on 15-21 June, 2018.
Under the theme “Walking together, serving justice and peace” the Central Committee met to discuss the WCC’s service, mission and ministry, and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WCC. Festivities featured an ecumenical prayer service hosted by the Cathedral Saint-Pierre in Old City Geneva - including a homily from His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - and they culminated in a visit by His Holiness Pope Francis to Geneva and Bossey on 21 June.
In addition to addresses from the WCC leadership, the Central Committee also convened in plenary sessions on unity, ecumenical diakonia, “The Living Fellowship,” and “Experiences from the Pilgrimage.”
The 21 June papal visit, with its theme of “Walking, Praying, and Working Together,” was undertaken to join in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the WCC and to affirm the ongoing commitment of the Roman Catholic Church to the ecumenical quest for unity, justice and peace.
New WCC members
The addition of two churches brings the WCC membership to 350. The Central Committee welcomed two new member churches into the WCC fellowship, the Africa Brotherhood Church (Kenya) and the Community of Baptist Churches in Central Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo).
With regard to the WCC Strategic Plan, which includes two four-year periods, 2014-2017 and 2018-2021, with a mid-term evaluation at the end of the first period, the Programme Committee received a mid-term evaluation of the WCC’s implementation of its strategic plan. The Mid-Term Evaluation Team considered the strategic direction and strategic objectives of the WCC, as they are formulated in the strategic plan, to be relevant and helpful, and identified a number of strategies and methodologies to help achieve objectives.
Programmatic reviews of WCC initiatives
The Central Committee received with appreciation and approved reports on the work and strategic direction of The Just Community of Women and Men, the Ecumenical Global Health Strategy, the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, especially the latter’s “Call to Discipleship,” and the model of ecumenical formation exemplified by the Global Ecumenical Theological Initiative (GETI) there.
Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace
The Central Committee received and approved an evaluation of the pilgrimage. Especially notable are the 2019 regional focus on Asia, special attention to the problems of racism and violence, and further development and use of Pilgrimage Team Visits to advance the solidarity of the fellowship with its regional members and partners.
Next assembly venue
The Central Committee chose Karlsruhe, Germany, as the site of its 11th Assembly in 2021. The invitation was received from the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), but all 20 Landeskirchen – United, Lutheran and Reformed churches – that comprise the EKD have expressed their willingness to host the assembly.
Working Paper on Ecumenical Diakonia
The Programme Committee and then the full Central Committee reviewed the most recent draft of a major study, “Called to Transformative Action: Ecumenical Diakonia,” begun in 2014. With a host of comments and discussion points, the document was acknowledged as a working document to be shared with the member churches for their feedback, and referred for further review and consideration by other committees and the WCC’s Executive Committee. It is to be brought back to the WCC Central Committee in 2020.
Total programme and assembly income is anticipated at CHF 18.5 million (budget 2018: CHF 18.9 million), while total programme and assembly expenditure is planned at CHF 18.9 million, being CHF 0.4 million higher than income.
Appointment of a search committee
Balloting was arranged for ten members to be chosen by the central committee itself. They, along with the two central committee vice-moderators and six members chosen by the executive committee, will conduct the search. Reporting to the WCC executive committee and the WCC moderator, the search committee will establish a timeline, formulate a role description, and invite nominations for the position of WCC general secretary.
The Central Committee approved a newly enhanced communications strategy for the WCC. The new strategy affirms strongly the existing themes of fellowship communication, advocacy, and capacity-building but also recommends additional foci on prophetic communication and organizational accountability or transparency both within the WCC and within the member churches. “To be prophetic today does not mean speaking up on behalf of others. It means empowering people to speak for themselves. That’s what communications rights are all about,” said the report.
The real-estate development proceeds apace, and the Area Development Plan, submitted by the WCC and its development partners, was approved by the Geneva authorities and has been in effect since January 2018.
Actions on public issues
In its Geneva meeting, the Central Committee issued public statements on matters of concern to the worldwide fellowship.
Links to statements
Video playlist: The WCC Central Committee meeting 2018 playlist on YouTube.com contains 23 videos, including recordings of live sessions
Photo galleries from the WCC Central Committee meeting
Reports, addresses, statements, minutes, resolutions, and other important documents of the meeting are posted on-line at