Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

Central Committee Johannesburg, 1994

Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

Central Committee Johannesburg, 1994

Article excerpt

Meetings of the central committee are important moments in the life of the World Council of Churches. They are moments of serious evaluation, reflection and decision. The general secretary has outlined for you the programmatic activities of the Council for the last eighteen months. In my report I will first attempt to highlight the significant features of the work of the executive committee: and, second, I will treat the theme of what I like to term "Towards an ecumenical ethic for a responsible society in a sustainable creation". I have chosen this particular subject since I believe that a critical and comprehensive assessment of ecological crises and economic injustice in an ethical perspective must acquire, for the coming years, a focal attention on the agenda of the ecumenical movement in general, and the WCC in particular.

I

1. The executive committee has met three times (18-22 March 1993, Geneva, Switzerland; 14-20 September 1993, Sigtuna, Sweden; and 18-19 January 1994, Johannesburg, South Africa) since the last central committee meeting (21-28 August 1992, Geneva). You have already received the minutes of the first two meetings. Therefore I would like to spell out briefly only those aspects and dimensions which constituted the crux of the work of the executive committee.

Towards the eighth assembly of the WCC

2. The central committee in its last meeting took the following decisions concerning the next assembly: (a) The assembly should take place in 1998 and it should be both a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the WCC, an event to mark the culmination of the Ecumenical Decade, and a period for the constitutionally required deliberative and business sessions. (b) A new understanding about the nature and content of the assembly is needed to serve as a clear framework for the preparatory process. (c) The criteria for the allocation of seats and for the selection of delegates have to be thoroughly reviewed. (d) Special care should be taken to redefine the process of election at the assembly itself.

3. Against this background, the executive committee was authorized to bring specific recommendations for discussion and final approval to the central committee at its next meeting in January 1994. Recommendations were expected on the following items: suggested place(s) and dates for the eighth assembly; suggestions for an assembly theme; nominations for membership on the Assembly Planning Committee (APC); general principles on the nature and content of the assembly; a proposed calendar and timetable for the period leading up to the assembly; and a clear mandate for the APC.

4. The executive committee devoted considerable time and energy to dealing with these issues. A small group of the executive committee met separately for further reflection. You will receive a full report on the discussion and proposals of the executive committee. I want to spotlight only some of its major aspects:

a) Theme: The executive committee thinks that the theme of jubilee should be the main thematic framework of the whole assembly. With such a theme the next assembly could be an occasion to render our life as churches back into the hands of God, and call the churches to reown the ecumenical movement.

b) Nature and style: The assembly must be conceived as a process with the meeting of the assembly as a focal point. It should include celebration, witness, public manifestation, common reflection on a theme, issues, critical assessment of the current ecumenical situation, decision-mak and constitutional business. It is important, however, to find the correct inner balance. The following could be a possible model for the next assembly: pre-assembly preparatory process in the churches; a "market place" where the review of the Council's work, new realities and concerns, and visions for the future could be discussed; and business of the assembly where new approaches and styles arc necessary for voting, reporting and debating to avoid unnecessary repetition and confusion. …

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