Jul. 9, 2019

Regional ecumenical leaders pledge to stand strong together.

Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki, general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, speaks during the meeting of the WCC and the regional ecumenical organizations. Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

09 July 2019

Leaders of eight regional ecumenical organizations concluded a meeting hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute on 2-4 July, with a pledge to stand together while mutually benefitting from their diversity.

In addition to the WCC, organizations represented included the All Africa Conference of Churches; Christian Conference of Asia; Caribbean Conference of Churches; Conference of European Churches; Canadian Council of Churches; Middle East Council of Churches; National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; and Pacific Conference of Churches.

The organizations signed a memorandum of understanding based on the text “Guidelines for Relationships and Cooperation Between the World Council of Churches and Regional Ecumenical Organizations.”

The WCC and the regional organizations agreed that “the ecumenical movement is one, that it is rooted in the churches and that it is wider than the ecumenical bodies they represent.”

The WCC and regional organizations also affirmed that “their relationship is one of partnership based on their common faith and commitment,” and agreed to principles of cooperation that include “to proactively seek cooperation on prioritized issues and strategic initiatives according to the plans of the respective organizations” and “seek mutual involvement at the planning stage of programmes or activities whenever feasible.”

Further, the WCC and regional ecumenical organizations agreed to establish a group comprised of the general secretaries of the organizations for “the purpose of mutual sharing, joint reflection and action.” The group is expected to meet once a year, and the meeting will be convened and facilitated by the WCC general secretary.

The regional ecumenical organizations also encouraged inter-regional cooperation and programmes, and agreed to share information with the WCC about such initiatives. Additionally, when a regional organization plans programmes or events that have a significance for the global ecumenical movement, “information, planning and preparation should be shared to the fullest possible extent with the WCC from the beginning of the preparatory process.”

Regional meetings held as part of WCC Central Committee meetings or assemblies will be planned and conducted in consultation with the respective regional ecumenical organizations.

The WCC also plans to invest in more staffing capacity in relation to regional work to develop and facilitate closer collaboration.

The WCC and regional organizations also wrote a letter to their fellow WCC member churches in Latin America expressing sorrow for the lack of institutional voice from the Latin American Council of Churches. “The one ecumenical movement is not complete with the absence of the Latin American Council of Churches at our table,” reads the letter.