The head of the World Council of Churches preached to a North Korean congregation Sunday, emphasizing the importance of cooperation and unity in a country known for its reclusiveness and for having the most heavily militarized border in the world.
By invitation of the Korean Christian Federation of North Korea, WCC General Secretary Dr. Samuel Kobia shared with the nearly 200 members of Bong Soon Church in Pyongyang the letter that the Apostle Paul had written to members of the new church in Corinth at a time when problems of divisions had emerged.
“There are two main learnings I want us to reflect on this morning,” said Kobia on the first day of a four-day visit. “The first is that we are called to take care of each other. The second is to recognize the need for nurturing the unity which is given to us by Jesus Christ.” more >>
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches will begin his pastoral visit to churches in North Korea on Saturday.
Responding to the invitation of the Korean Christian Federation of North Korea, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia will visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from Oct. 17 to Oct. 20. During his stay, the WCC head and the accompanying delegation will meet with churches as well as government officials to learn about the situation of congregations in the reclusive state, according to WCC.
Kobia is also scheduled to preach at Bong Soo Church in Pyongyang. more >>
More than 120 theologians from various Christian traditions concluded on Tuesday a meeting in Greece where they discussed ecumenism and the call to be one church.
The weeklong meeting of the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission was considered to be a "landmark in ecumenical dialogue," according to Dr. John Gibaut, director of the commission.
On the opening day of the Oct. 7-13 meeting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world, acknowledged the unity of the Church is a "never-ending search, an ever-unfolding journey." But he added that their ongoing pursuit of unity is "a testimony to the fact that what we seek will occur in God’s time and not our own." more >>
Relevance, aggressive secular attacks, and the threat of extremism are challenges for all people of faith, said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a major Muslim-Christian dialogue conference this past week.
“These challenges are not for Muslims alone, or Christians or Jews, Hindus or Buddhists for that matter. They are challenges for all people of faith,” Blair said at the 2009 Common Word Conference at Georgetown University.
And the “best hope” for faith in the twenty-first century, the former U.K. leader added, is that people of faith confront all of this together. more >>
Both the incoming and outgoing heads of the World Council of Churches this week stressed honesty as the basis upon which people of different faiths can have meaningful encounters.
Speaking at a conference on inter-faith relations in Geneva this week, outgoing WCC General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia said that a fruitful understanding between people of faiths depended on honesty and being able to recognize and hold in “creative tensions,” areas of convergence as well as genuine differences.
"Because we are different, we each have something unique to contribute, and every contribution counts. At the same time, dialogue partners seek to discover and appreciate the common values held by all,” he said during the gathering initiated by the Muslim World League and also attended by Jewish leaders. more >>
Protestant and Catholic leaders are gathering in Chicago on Thursday to mark the tenth anniversary of a landmark ecumenical agreement made between the two faith traditions.
Considered the most significant agreement since the Reformation, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was signed by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on Oct. 31, 1999 in an effort to end centuries of doctrinal dispute.
"For hundreds of years, the issue of justification by faith divided Catholics and Protestants," said Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops, in a released statement. "This agreement celebrates consensus on the basic truths of the doctrine of justification." more >>