The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee meeting opened today in Geneva, Switzerland, with a report by the councils general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, on February 15, 2005. The weeklong central committee meeting gathered 150 church representatives from around the world to discuss the shift in the culture and ethos of the WCC and layout the plans for the upcoming ninth assembly of the Council.
Rev. Kobia, who presented his first report as the organizations general secretary, told the leaders that churches and ecumenical bodies must transform itself in order to restate the ecumenical vision for the 21st century.
This "is not just a matter of structures", Kobia said. Responding to todays challenges requires "a process of transformation" of the ecumenical movement "that must be rooted in the conversion to the source of our lives and the life of all creation, the Triune God whom we confess together."
Challenges include the quest for authentic spirituality", usually "understood as existing over against organized religion", that appears "especially but not exclusively among the young people". New forms of "primarily experiential expressions of faith" articulate themselves in "post-denominational expressions of being church."
Todays religious landscape is also where "some of the rich nations are constantly engaged in redesigning a new world in which the poor and the weak will have little or no voice", thus jeopardizing the "democratic gains of the last two decades," Kobia said.
In lieu of these challenges, Kobia said the WCC member churches must become a beacon of light that brings peace and hope.
"From region after region, voices are raised vowing that 'Another world is possible - new heavens and a new earth!' he said.
A "rising spirituality of resistance and hope" shows itself in "the commitment to the unity of the church and Gods household of life, the readiness to move beyond our own communities and to work together with people of other faith for peace and justice", and a willingness among Council member churches "to speak to power with truth."
For the upcoming year, and more so for the new century, Kobia said the ecumenical movement must help communities find "ways of going beyond the logic of violence and domination and establishing alternative non-violent ways of resolving conflicts."