Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Excerpts from the Report of the Programme Guidelines Committee as Adopted

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Excerpts from the Report of the Programme Guidelines Committee as Adopted

Article excerpt


For which of you intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it. Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him saying, "This fellow began to build and was not able to finish." (Luke 14:28-30)

One of the tasks of the delegates of the assembly is to determine the overall policies of the World Council and to review programmes undertaken to implement policies previously adopted.(1) The assembly is to review activities of the Council during the last seven years and set directions for the Council's activities in the future.

By what criteria is the past reviewed and future directions set? The Basis speaks of the World Council as a fellowship of churches . . . who seek to fulfill together their common calling.(2) Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC sees this "common calling" as integrating the vision of John 17:21 ("that they may be one.., so that the world may believe") with the vision of Ephesians 1:10 (God's "plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth").(3) This "common calling" seeks the visible unity of the church for the reconciliation of the creation to God and with and to itself. With this renewed stress on the World Council as a fellowship of churches and as a servant of the one ecumenical movement the emphasis for the coming seven years might use the concept of "common" to determine its priorities - common life in Christ, common witness and common concerns in the service of human need.

The process

The Programme Guidelines Committee did its work in two phases. The first phase reviewed the work undertaken by the four Units and the General Secretariat, evaluating what had been achieved and indicating what might continue in the next period. In the second phase the committee worked within the framework of the six Padare streams. The PGC members were in dialogue with the delegates, bringing initial suggestions for new areas of work and modifying them in the light of their further contributions. The Programme Guidelines Committee presents its report in the following terms as an instrument through which the assembly can determine the overall policies of the World Council for the coming seven years.



The PGC thanks the staff of the WCC for all their efforts in presenting the work of the four units and the General Secretariat in this first phase of the hearings. In the circumstances of much reduced staffing levels and major financial constraints, what was achieved - the quantity and the quality of the work which had been undertaken - impressed us. Nevertheless, concern was expressed that the organizational changes which were introduced after Canberra had not always led to integration and cooperation, which had been one of its purposes. The reduction of staff members appeared to have affected some units more than others and this had had a detrimental effect on the way in which work could be undertaken.

There were a number of themes which were common to all the hearings.

How much work can be done? In a Council where the staffing levels have been reduced by 45% since the last assembly there is a danger that the current staff are expected to continue the level of activity of a much larger group. The Programme Guidelines Committee heard that across the Council the reduction in staff has meant that some programmes which were mandated were never started and others were curtailed. The restructuring has caused some anxiety that good achievements and work which needed to continue might be lost. Some structure to alleviate these anxieties needs to be put in place immediately.

How will it be done? The question to be asked in the case of each programme is, "What is the most appropriate and effective method to be employed? …

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