World’s Ecumenical Bodies Prepare for 5th World Social Forum

Hundreds of leaders from the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation and the Young Men’s Christian Association will travel to Proto Alegre, Brazil, to bring an “ecumenical” presence to the 5th World Social Forum, January 26-31, 2005.

The World Social Forum gathers tens of thousands of people from over 130 countries and 2,000 organizations each year to provide a space for “dialogue between civil society actors dedicated to alternative globalization and the idea that “another world is possible.””

The WCC’s overall theme at the forum is “Affirming life in dignity: enhancing justice and rights in a globalized world.” WCC delegates will be responsible for a series of seminars that “affirm the dignity of life in a world suffering from the consequences of economic globalization,” according to the WCC newsroom.

In line with the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence emphasis on removing violence against women, a panel on women’s spirituality and dignity will lead a seminar dealing with peace and reconciliation.

"Ecumenism has much that it can bring to the World Social Forum, including faith and cultural perspectives on the struggle for alternatives and the building of just societies," explains Dr Rogate Mshana, head of the WCC programme on economic justice. The ecumenical presence is "a way to show the common witness of Christians in the world that does not claim to be better, but to be an authentic alternative voice," he said in a WCC release, January 19.

The global ecumenical coalition includes the WCC, the LWF, Caritas Internationalis, International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE), YMCA, YWCA, WCSF, National Children's Alliance (NCA), Ecumenical Forum in Brazil, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), the Association of World Council of Churches-related Development Organisations in Europe (APRODEV) and other world-wide ecumenical organizations.