New Church Development Alliance One of World’s Largest

After two years of consultation, churches and related development organizations launched a new global alliance – making it one of the largest global networks for development in the world.

The World Council of Churches announced the alliance members’ intention to work together in combating the world’s social problems during the first assembly of ACT Development in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this week.

Under the common name of ACT Development, churches and related organizations will work to eradicate poverty, injustice and abuses to human rights, and focus on long-term development.

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the WCC, called the partnership “long overdue” based on the circumstances created by economic globalization and the need for clear plans from relief to development.

“The capacity of the ecumenical movement to respond to the challenges of today’s world depends to a large extent on more creative and future-oriented forms of co-operation and networking,” said Kobia at the Feb. 6-7 Assembly, according to the WCC.

WCC member churches, church departments, or related ministries or agencies active in development have the option to join ACT Development. The new coalition hopes to provide greater “visibility in the global arena” as one body and offer its members “more successful” fundraising.

In terms of funds, however, each participant will continue to decide from whom and to what group it supports.

There were difficulties in understanding and meeting the needs of both the Council and the development ministries. Parties had to come to a common agreement to work under ACT Development, where members must follow the alliance’s values, code of good practice, and transparency and mutual accountability guidelines.

“We need each other as partners in the ecumenical movement, each with specific roles and responsibilities,” Kobia emphasized.

WCC will help oversee the creation of ACT Development and that it observes the mission of the ecumenical movement.

The new alliance expects to continue to face obstacles, however, that include: the WCC’s specific role, possible competition, specialized ministries’ real commitment to working together, and the risk that an NGO logic is imposed over against ecumenical accountability.

The alliance says it will work closely with ACT International – the WCC-related coordination body for emergency relief – and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

WCC is prepared to move to even “closer ties” between all its partners, where eventually there will only be “one ecumenical entity bearing the name ACT,” Kobia said