The outgoing head of the World Council of Churches delivered his final address to the ecumenical organization’s central committee Wednesday, emphasizing the importance of the “visible unity” of the church – not as an end in itself, “but for the sake of the future of humanity and all of God’s creation.”
“The sinful and deadly reality around us can be transformed by Christ as God’s love is communicated both by people who are witnesses to Christ’s self-emptying love and in all the wonders of God’s creation as it is continually renewed by the Holy Spirit,” stated the Rev. Samuel Kobia, who has served as general secretary of the WCC since January 2004.
However, a “relevant witness” of the churches in today’s world is no longer possible, he added, “if churches stay divided and cannot demonstrate to the world that the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the driving force in making the whole church a sign and foretaste of a united humanity that cares for each other and for this planet.” more >>
The largest ecumenical church body in the world will elect its new general secretary within the next week during a Central Committee meeting that opened Wednesday in Geneva.
Functioning as the main decision-making body of the World Council of Churches between assemblies, the Central Committee will meet from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2 to plan for the next WCC Assembly and to decide who will be its next leader.
Its current general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, had announced last February that he would not seek a second term in office. more >>
The president of the second largest Lutheran denomination in America told delegates of the largest that their decisions this past week to allow and support rostering of those in “life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships” would “undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony” in their church body and beyond.
“I speak these … words in deep humility, with a heavy heart and no desire whatsoever to offend,” the Rev. Gerald B. Kieschnick, president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), told the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly on Saturday.
“The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA,” he added on the second-to-last day of the weeklong gathering of ELCA’s chief legislative authority. “It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies.” more >>
The chief legislative authority of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted a full communion agreement with the United Methodist Church (UMC) on Thursday by a 958-51 vote.
Under the agreement, the two church bodies express a common confession of Christian faith; mutual recognition of Baptism and sharing Holy Communion; mutual recognition of ordained ministers for service in either church; and a common commitment to evangelism, witness and service.
The two denominations also agree to freely join worship and exchange members; engage in common decision-making on critical matters; and lift criticisms that may exist between the churches. more >>
A candidate for the World Council of Churches’ top post acknowledged recently the many obstacles keeping churches from joining the ecumenical body, but spoke optimistically about the potential to overcome the differences.
During an interview with a German newspaper, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit of the Church of Norway (Lutheran) noted how Catholics and Protestants have grown closer than ever before, and said he believes a shared communion will one day be possible.
said he hopes Protestants and Catholics, Pentecostal and mainline churches, and Lutherans and Baptists can all work out their differences and worship together. more >>
Christian advocates for a world free of nuclear weapons said Tuesday that they were encouraged by the commitment of Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev to slash nuclear stockpiles by about a third though some pointed out that the move is not enough.
“It is heartening that the leaders of the United States and Russia have now made a preliminary agreement and public commitment to achieve specific cuts in each country's stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons,” expressed the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches. more >>