Getting a new website generates the same type of excitement among communication staff as birthday parties do for young children, and like any family celebration, there is something for everybody present in a special ecumenical family.
While everyone is looking at the unveiling of the new World Council of Churches (WCC) website as the end of a long wait, for the staff, it's the start of a new era, and a new way of working globally to interconnect member churches everywhere on the planet.
“It’s a day of joy to see the new website online and welcoming all our visitors from all over the world. This is an important part of the WCC online presence and the result of almost five years of development of online strategies. Interest among member churches, the media and the general public has grown across many channels of WCC communication during 2020. Given this new wave of interest, the website will also serve as a ‘hotline’ for media, increasing the fellowship’s exposure across the world,” said Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of communication, adding that work is still in progress on the new website, and feedback from visitors is welcome.
“Our major task has been also a fresh presentation of the WCC programmes, providing intuitive ways of navigation in the wide spectrum of WCC work for unity, justice and peace in the world,” said WCC communication officer Ivars Kupcis, who coordinated the project and worked with those developing the tool.
Kupcis explained that the main goal of the new website is offering the WCC fellowship more opportunities for engagement with the content produced by the WCC and the whole ecumenical movement.
The staff's excitement with the new tool is also for those in WCC member churches or new people excitedly discovering the wealth available through the new site.
For fellow communication officer Xanthi Morfi, the new website contributes significantly to her sharing key documents and resources of significant academic and historical value.
"It enables fuller engagement at a global level in the vital work and important reflections of WCC's commissions on Faith and Order and Mission and Evangelism, which are at the heart and soul of the ecumenical movement, " she noted.
Now readers can keep up with the latest news on WCC's activities worldwide or the initiatives of the member churches and WCC programme staff, she said, by linking directly to the wealth of theological reflections produced by WCC’s commissions.
Faith and Order digital collection
"The access to the digital collection of the well-known Faith and Order Papers only gives a glimpse of the treasures," said Morfi, and should facilitate the academic research and study of professors and students, church leaders and commissioners.
“For us, access to knowledge for people from all parts of the world equals empowerment. Just opportunities for education lead to better world societies where the dignity of the human person and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms secure unity and peace,” said Morfi.
Annegret Kapp is a communication officer who works on the website each of her working days and knows a website's practicality.
"We hope people will find it easier to access the wealth of prayer resources collected by the WCC. If you'd like to contribute your prayers, you will be able to contact us more readily; and if you would like to feature within your own website weekly updated prayers for sisters and brothers in other parts of the world, check out the new widget for the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle."
And on the other side of the world, in the United States, Michael West, consulting editor for WCC Publications, explained how the website features an improved presentation of books and journals from WCC Publications, including sample texts and ordering information.
‘Resources for prayer and Bible’
"It also presents the WCC's many ecumenical resources for prayer and Bible study that congregations can employ in their spiritual life and quest for justice," said West.
Lyn van Rooyen, coordinator of WCC Publications, based in South Africa, says, "We hope that some of the recent resources, including Bible studies and materials focusing on health and the environment, will equip faith communities to respond to the challenges of our times.
"We are also excited to have a fully searchable list of the WCC publications on the new website. Many of the materials will also be downloadable and accessible to all who have access to the internet."
For Marcelo Schneider, a WCC communication officer based in Brazil, the new site has a special significance for 2022.
"It brings a section dedicated to the upcoming WCC 11th Assembly, to take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2022. Besides practical information and resources on the theme and the assembly symbol, it makes available the official reports of all previous assemblies of the WCC."
Readers should feel free to send your opinions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
WCC website: www.oikoumene.org
WCC’s new website will draw global fellowship even closer (WCC press release 16 October 2020)