Thursday, 31 October 2013

Reimagining faith communities in a nation of multicultural diversity

From Crosslight, a newspaper published by the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania

To reimagine is to remake, recreate, re-think, or form a new conception of something. Reimagining our future as a multicultural church is what director of the synod’s Cross-Cultural Mission and Ministry unit, Rev SweeAnn Koh is asking UCA members to do.

What does it mean to be a multi-cultural church as we proudly declared ourselves to be in 1985?
This is particularly relevant at a time when our federal government is reimagining multiculturalism. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has eliminated the position of Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship. In its place he has installed a Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, thus removing the word multiculturalism itself.
Australia is a multicultural country – the vast majority of the people who currently call Australia home have ancestry that originated somewhere else.
The irony of the ‘Stop the Boats’ campaign by the coalition is that we are a country full of boat people, or people (or descendants of those) who have ‘come across the seas’ to share in Australia’s ‘boundless plains’. The culture of the First Australians, here for 40,000 years before white settlement, adds another important multicultural element into the mix.
Because of the recent changes made by the government, our responsibility and role to embrace the cultural diversity within our church becomes paramount. So often when the state fails citizens, minority groups and those most in need, the church picks up the slack – but we are not a self-proclaimed multicultural church out of necessity or obligation. We choose to be one because of a belief that these differences are a gift.
The “We Are A Multicultural Church” statement adopted by the 4th Assembly of the Uniting Church in July 1985 states UCA’s belief that; “Christians in Australia are called to bear witness to a unity of faith and life in Christ which transcends cultural and economic, national and racial boundaries… Jesus Christ has made peace between people of every race, culture and class. This unity too is a gift of God, a foretaste of the reconciliation of all things in Christ. It is also a goal to be achieved as we commit ourselves in one fellowship to achieve justice, affirm one another’s cultures, and care for any who are the victims of racial discrimination, fear and economic exploitation.”
Part of reimagining ourselves as a multicultural church is revisiting a model which often sees a wide variety of cultural groups respecting each other’s differences but still remaining quite separate and disconnected.
Mr Koh asks if we are in danger of espousing the idea of multicultural harmony yet only enacting it on a surface level.
To counter this trend, CCMM have created a new program called ‘Below the surface: congregation to congregation partnership’. The program invites two congregations to build an intentional partnership over two years – one congregation comprising predominantly Anglo-Saxon members and the other comprising predominantly CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) members.
The hope is this program will encourage more congregations to engage on a deeper level with congregations of a different culture in a way that goes beyond lip service or tokenism.
Participating congregations will sign a memorandum of partnership committing to: share combined church council meetings at least twice a year; participate in at least one joint congregational activity per year; keep informed of each other’s specific programs; attend a cross-cultural weekend once a year facilitated by the CCMM unit; celebrate each other’s culturally significant dates and occasions and participate in mutual prayer.
For more information on Mission and Service funding please visit:

Saturday, 26 October 2013

For your diaries: 2013 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference - at Flemington, Victoria on Sunday 24 November from 12.30pm to 5pm

2013 Victorian Interfaith Networks Conference (VINC)
Sunday, 24 November 2013, 12:30pm - 05:00pm
A Grass Roots Conference organised by the Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) and hosted in 2013 by Moonee Valley Interfaith Network (MVIN) & Moonee Valley City Council (MVCC). The Conference aims to help build the capacity and sustainability of existing multifaith/interfaith networks, bring people up-to-date with current multifaith/interfaith matters, provide networking opportunities, and assist the hosting interfaith network/council to promote its work to the local community.
DateSunday, 24th November 2013   Time: 12:30pm - 5:00pm (1:20pm start)
Location: Flemington Community Centre -  25 Mt Alexander Road, Flemington (Melway ref: 2A D1)
Parking: Limited parking available on site, additional parking available in Victoria Street Flemington
Transportation: Number 59 Tram stops outside the Community Centre - click here for tram route
Registration: To register for the conference go to and click on the Register button (big green button at the top of the page). Venue holds a maximum seating of 165 people, so please enrol early to ensure your place.
Programme Schedule:
12:30pm: Arrival and seating. Faith stands open for viewing.
1:30pm: Theme discussion 'Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution'
  • Aunty Joy Wantin Murphy: Welcome to Country and Talk
  • Indigenous Performance
  • Welcome by Moonee Valley Mayor and VMC Chairperson Mr Chin Tan
  • Alistair Macrae: 'Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution'
2:30pm: Workshops on 'Interfaith/Multifaith' Matters:*
  • Workshop 1: Media & Communications Training
  • Workshop 2: Growing Young People's Spirituality
  • Workshop 3: Emergencies Ministry
  • Workshop 4: Successful Multifaith/Interfaith Programmes
  • Workshop 5: How to offend people of faith... without knowing
3:15pm: Break & Musical Performance
4:00pm: Repeat of Workshops on 'Interfaith/Multifaith' Matters:*
  • Workshop 1: Media & Communications Training
  • Workshop 2: Growing Young People's Spirituality
  • Workshop 3: Emergencies Ministry
  • Workshop 4: Successful Multifaith/Interfaith Programmes
  • Workshop 5: How to offend people of faith... without knowing
4:50pm: Summary & Closing Ceremony
5:00pm: Finish
*Once registered for the event, you will be contacted regarding your choice of workshops. Registrants can attend up to two workshops on the day of the conference - for a description of each workshop click here. 
Registration: To register for the conference go to and click on the Register button (big green button at the top of the page). Venue holds a maximum seating of 165 people, so please enrol early to ensure your place.
For further information contact:
Mr Sandy Kouroupidis - Multifaith Officer of Faith Communities Council of Victoria
Email: or Mobile: 0413-347-055
This event is sponsored by the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
Location : Flemington Community Centre - 25 Mt Alexander Road, Flemington (Melway ref: 2A D1)
Contact : Sandy Kouroupidis (FCCV Multifaith Officer): or 0413-347-055

Friday, 25 October 2013

Thank you to Elizabeth Deutscher for passing this on to Beside the Creek.. It comes from Crosslight, a newspaper published by the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania

Theological diversity within a multicultural church

When we declared in 1985 at the 4th National Assembly that ‘the Uniting Church is a multicultural Church’ we affirmed that we are a diverse church. Diversity is the hallmark of a multicultural church. Many within our church would readily affirm how we are enriched by the cultural, racial and ethnic diversities.
However, there is a diversity that we seldom name or feel comfortable with – the theological diversity that exists within a multicultural church. This is one of the elephants in the room that we dance around.
If the truth be told, I become irritated when I hear someone say: “But this is not Uniting Church theology.” Indeed, what is Uniting Church theology? I know we have the Basis of Union but I am yet to find a document or book that states unequivocally what Uniting Church theology is.
I think there is an assumption within some parts of our church that the Uniting Church subscribes to orthodox theology or normative, transcultural, universal and historic theology. Anything else is considered ‘heretical’ or ‘dumb-down’ theology.
What is often considered ‘orthodox Christian theology’ has been a theology of empire, a theology of colonialism, a theology that powerful people used as a tool to achieve and defend land theft, exploitation, domination, superiority, racism and privilege.
One of the biggest challenges of a multicultural Church is this theological diversity – from conservatives to liberals or evangelicals to progressives. Due to our theological differences it’s almost impossible to agree on contentious issues such as same-sex marriage or ordination of homosexual ministers.
Much of the doctrine we take for granted and consider transcultural and trans-contextual was developed in response to questions that arose during the early centuries of Christianity. So we shouldn’t be surprised if ‘new’ theologies emerge today.
According to British theologian Andrew F. Walls: “The doctrines of Trinity and incarnation were developed as theologians grappled with the questions of the Hellenistic-Roman world. Christian theology is expanding today as it comes into contact with new areas of experience in Asia and Africa.”
Since diversity always means difference and often means disagreement, how can we maintain our unity within diversity? How does a multicultural Church with theological diversity like ours hang together?
First, we need to name and embrace the uncomfortable feelings of our diversities or differences.
We like to huddle with those who are somewhat similar to us. We need to become aware of our own preferences and biases and name them for what they are.
And some people fear differences.
Our society and church seem to be increasingly full of fearful, defensive people anxiously clinging to their property and inclined to look at the world with suspicion, expecting an enemy to suddenly appear, intrude and do harm.
But still – that is our vocation: to embrace the other as a guest and to create the free and fearless space where brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed and fully experienced.
In our world full of strangers, estranged from their own past, culture and country, from their neighbours, friends and family, from their deepest self and their God, we witness a painful search for a hospitable place where life can be lived without fear and where community can be truly found.
Second, work hard at building mutual respectful relationships across differences. We need to create intentional spaces to listen and engage one another. Try to hear what someone is saying and not just hear the differences. Refrain from judging another person’s theology because it’s different from yours. Practice generous orthodoxy.
How can we as “the theologically diverse church” begin to live to what Scripture clearly calls us to do: to treat one another with respect and dignity, especially in the face of theological difference? Practice mutual forbearance.
Gene March, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, explains why this principle is so hard to embody. He says the stakes are higher the more common our ground becomes.
We may find it easier to practice mutual forbearance with those in other churches than we do within our own. We shouldn’t ignore our disagreements, but it’s possible to disagree with people without doubting their place at the table.
Third, we need to free our Church from Western/Euro-centric captivity. The cultural Church default setting is still the dominant culture and often operates from the assumption that European worldview can be applied to all people despite the cultural, ethnic diversity/differences. Our church governance, polity, processes, theological education and even pastoral care are informed by Euro-centric worldview. There is a great need to acknowledge and understand other worldviews.
We need to affirm Christian unity while celebrating the theological richness that arises from its racial and ethnic diversity. I do, however, acknowledge that there are ‘bad’ theologies that I would not support. For me, bad theologies are those that seek to dehumanise, discriminate, disempower and colonise others who are different.
Rev SweeAnn Koh
Director, Cross Cultural Mission & Ministry Unit
Commission for Mission

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The religious landscape is ever-changing - find out what it looks like

To read more please go here

Creative Ministries Network and Antony McMullen, its new Director

Re-posted from Crosslight

Working creatively

To say Antony McMullen, newly appointed director of Creative Ministries Network (CMN), is passionate about justice in the workplace would be something of an understatement. As a social justice officer with the synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit, his work often covered areas such as workplace reform for those in some of society’s most undervalued occupations, such as cleaners.
“Work takes up such a large part of our lives and sometimes things can go terribly wrong,” Mr McMullen said.
“It’s not always a matter of pointing the finger; that’s what excites me about the restorative justice approach of CMN. We can see when relationships break down that focussing on people’s faults and solely dealing with things through formal systems may not always be the best way forward; although sometimes it is unavoidable.”
Mr McMullen said he will draw heavily on lessons learnt during his five years with the JIM unit, particularly when he was tasked with examining the criminal justice system.
You can follow Antony on Twitter at @antonymcmullen

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

For those cannot make the Hajj - actions that are equal to Hajj in reward

Performing Actions Equal to Hajj in Reward | Shaykh Waleed Basyouni

Performing Actions Equal to Hajj in Reward | Shaykh Waleed Basyouni

There are so many like myself could not go to Hajj this year, but even when we are physically far away from Mecca, our hearts with the Hujjaj (pilgrims), thinking about what they are doing, praying for them and hoping to be like them soon. One of the things that I thought could help us to catch up with them is to do the actions that equal to Hajj in reward! Yes, equal to Hajj as our prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) informed us.
  1. Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The poor came to the Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and said: “Oh, Messenger of Allāh, the wealthy have gone with the highest ranks and lasting bliss. They offer ṣalāh (prayer) as we offer it; they observe fast as we do; and as they are wealthy, they perform Hajj and 'Umrah, and go for Jihad, and they spend in charity.” The Messenger of Allāh said, “Shall I not teach you something with which you may overtake those who surpassed you and with which you will surpass those who will come after you? None will excel you unless he who does which you do. You should recite: Tasbeeh (Allāh is free from imperfection – Subhan Allāh), Takbeer (Allāh is Greatest – Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Praise be to Allāh – AlHamdu lillah) thirty-three times after each ṣalāh.” [Bukhāri]  ~~~ Please read more here

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Current Dialogue - October 2013 - #55 : from the World Council of Churches (WCC)

Current Dialogue
October 2013

Current Dialogue #55

Dear Ballarat Interfaith Network,
The latest issue of Current Dialogue is now available! This edition of the World Council of Churches magazine on inter-religious dialogue covers the following topics:
  • Challenges the Assembly Theme Poses for Interreligious Dialogue: Some Personal Reflections - S. Wesley Ariarajah
  • Whose God of Life? Whose Justice and Peace? - Edmund Kee Fook Chia
  • Orthodox Expectations from the 10th Assembly of the WCC: The Importance of Interfaith, Ecological and Economic Witness - Petros Vassiliadis
  • Engaging Economic Injustice Today: Challenges for Interreligious Cooperation - Martin Lukito Sinaga
  • Delivering Peace Out of the Broken Womb: A Postcolonial Interreligious Perspective - Jea Sophia Oh
  • Life, Justice and Peace through Mission and Dialogue - Graham Kings
  • Towards an Other-Shaped Paradigm of Interfaith Relations in Nepal - Esther Parajauli
  • Answers to Justice-Related Suffering in Rabbinic Judaism - Viktória Kóczián
  •  “Being found in human form…”: Monastic Practices of Humility in Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Dialogue with Buddhist Leaders - Katherine Wharton
  •  “Minorities” and… - Clare Amos
  • Hopes and Uncertainties: Sri Lanka’s Journey to Find Peace and Justice in the Midst of Religious Conflicts - A. W. Jebanesan
  • Buddhist Resources for Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Cambodia - Vannath Chea
  • Buddhist-Christian Cooperation for Moving Together towards Life, Justice and Peace - Vijaya Samarawickrama
  • Report of the “Inter-Religious Interface” Between Buddhists and Christians in Bangkok - Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar
  • Building an Interfaith Community of Young People at Bossey - Marina Ngursangzeli Behera

Kind regards,
The WCC Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation team

Bushfires and response-ability - a re-think needed?

The article below is from the pen - oops, the keyboard - of Bronwyn Lay, daughter of B.I.N. member Margaret Lay. It is worthy of consideration.

Bushfires demand response-ability

Bronwyn Lay |  22 October 2013
FlamesI've never felt the earth move but have sniffed smoke, ashes and the aftermath of bushfires. The fright of inferno is akin to the world being taken away in an instant. It makes bodies tremble and language vanish. In front of violent nature, who are we but helpless and mute?
In bushfires, tsunamis and earthquakes, our relationship to the 'natural' world comes at us like an alive nightmare, and hurts. The natural world might not possess emotions like anger and revenge, but asks violent questions about meaning and action and responsibility. Many ask us to draw a line in our mourning, and only think about the humans. This is repression, for on such occasions humans and nature are bound in a dangerous dance.

In Lisbon 1755 the Western world changed direction. The ground literally moved as the biggest earthquake recorded in Western history hit the Portuguese coast and decimated Lisbon. A tsunami and fires followed. It was All Saints day and many people were at Mass when the earthquake hit. The monarchy fled to the hills to live as nomads, and thousands died.

Monday, 21 October 2013

A charming portrait of two little girls at prayer

Isn't this photograph marvellous. 
It comes from Side Entrance - a blog that B.I.N. follows on Tumbler.  
Hind Makki is the author of the blog 
and there are some wonderful photographs on the site.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Islam, women and men at worship, sacred places and spaces.

Hind Makki is nothing if not interesting,
You will also find Hindi on the blog, Hindrospectives
with her thoughts on Islam, the West, and pop culture.
Particularly of interest, is Hind's presence on Tumblr
where she posts on a site call Side Entrance.
The focus of Side entrance is on photos from mosques around the world,
showcasing women's sacred spaces, in relation to men's spaces.
She claims to show the beautiful, the adequate and the pathetic.
 Sacred spaces are important. 
They have a resonance which somehow our human psyche can tap into -
whether these are human made spaces
or spaces which we come across in the natural environment.
They are places of connection with something universal,
yet not contained by our own
knowledge of physical space.
Hind often highlights the feature of Islam where men and women
have different sacred spaces in mosques -
different places for prayer and prayerful listening.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Women of Islam - 10


Anousheh Ansari (USA, 1966-Present)
In 2006, Anousheh became the first Muslim woman in space.
When asked about what she hoped to achieve on her spaceflight, she said,
"I hope to inspire everyone -- especially young people, women and young girls all over the world and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men -- to not give up their dreams and to pursue them. ... It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen."


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Women of Islam - 9

Daisy Khan (USA, 1958-Present)

In 2005, Daisy founded the Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), the only cohesive, global movement of Muslim women around the world that works to reclaim women's rights in Islam using a human rights and social-justice based framework.
Further, in 2008, Daisy spearheaded the creation of the Global Muslim Women's Shura Council, whch is comprised of eminent Muslim women scholars, activists and lawyers from 26 countries.  The Council's statements have informed numerous university curriculums and legal opinions. 
Daisy is viewed as a credible, humane and equitable voice within the global Muslim community.

Critiquing Christian values and helping the poor - former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

News from disputed land - disappearing farm land as settlers occupy Palestinian territory

From the occupied Palestinian territories to the European Union

From the occupied Palestinian territories to the European Union Raba Fanoun from Nahhalin village near Bethlehem shows his olive trees destroyed by Israeli settlers.
© Merita Saajos 
09 October 2013
Jenny Derbyshire, a volunteer for the World Council of Churches programme for Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), previously based in Bethlehem, was part of a team that travelled to Brussels recently to bring to light stories of Palestinians living under siege. Derbyshire, from Ireland, used her eye witness accounts from the occupied territory to urge the European Union to support the two-state solution for peace and stability in the region. 
By Jenny Derbyshire
In March this year, Raba Fanoun, from the village of Nahhalin near Bethlehem, discovered that settlers had come to his land during the night with hatchets and destroyed 80 mature olive trees, which his father had planted thirty years ago. This was nearly half the total number of his mature olive trees. The livelihood for his extended family depended on them. Later that day, volunteers from the EAPPI Bethlehem team visited Fanoun, to report on this destruction.

“When you plant a small flower in your house,” Fanoun said, “imagine how you feel when it dies; and think about the trees we have cared for, for 30 years.”

“This is a big attack on your livelihood,” I said.

“It’s not just our livelihood, it’s our life,” was the reply.

During my three months in Bethlehem I was often in this village, which is under constant threat from settlements on the surrounding hilltops, including the huge nearby settlement of Beitar Illit. In April we were called out to witness and report on the military orders left under stones on village farmland, confiscating another area of land for the extension of the security zone around Beitar Illit.

“When you go home, tell people in your countries,” the mayor urged us, “tell them what is happening here. This is the last of the farmland of our village. They want us to leave. They are trying to drive us away.”

As part of a meeting of EAPPI representatives with EU officials in September this year, I was able to tell the stories from Nahhalin to members of the European Parliament (MEPs), permanent representatives, officials from the External Action Service and the cabinet of the commissioner for research. We showed them a photo of the building activity that we saw taking place in Beitar Illit, right above Palestinian farmland. Such establishments lead to the extension of the security zone, and run-off from the settlement sewage system polluting the Palestinian farmland and water supply.

I was also able to show a photo of Fanoun with his destroyed olive trees and describe the impact settlement has on local people. We told the MEPs what Fanoun and the mayor shared with us.
We also brought to them words of another farmer from Nahhalin: “What they call Area C is actually the future of Palestine.” What most people in the occupied territories shared with us was that “the situation is urgent, if the two-state solution is to have any chance of success”.

For the visit to Brussels I worked as a team with two other former Ecumenical Accompaniers: Jonathan Adams from the United Kingdom and Dominika Blachnika from Poland were EAPPI volunteers in East Jerusalem in 2012; I was in Bethlehem this year and in East Jerusalem in 2012. So we also described the impact of the developments in the E1 area outside Jerusalem on the lives of the Bedouin people we had met there.

This is now a well-known issue politically, but the stories from people living there and the impact of the loss of land, water and access to Jerusalem shows the level of displacement and deprivation. We linked this with the stories from the Bethlehem villages, where Palestinian people are also threatened by forced displacement. Their farmlands are disappearing into settlement construction, is claimed by the route of the separation barrier, and comes under repeated attacks from settlers.

We shared what we had seen and passed on the words of the Palestinians we got to know during our stay; we shared maps and photos; we shared statistics. We reminded politicians that under international humanitarian law, which the EU upholds, Palestinians have a protected status and settlements are illegal. EU officials have recently taken steps through issuing EU guidelines on grants and loans to settlements. We hope that our testimonies will encourage them to continue in this direction and take the necessary actions for the resolution of the Israel Palestine conflict.

Read also:
EU asked to honour its position on Israeli settlements (WCC news release of 1 October 2013)
More information on Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.
Media contact: +41 79 507 6363;
Visiting address: 150 route de Ferney, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

Video sharing of the Wisdom of Marriage

You may recall the posts on this blog about the Wisdom of Marriage event at the East Melbourne synagogue.  The editor of this blog, Brigid O'Carroll Walsh, was mentioned in these blogposts as speaking at this event.  At the last minute, an addition to the speakers list because someone couldn't make it was Ballarat Interfaith Network's President, Elham Jamali.  So B.I.N. had two speakers at this significant event.  Editor's comment: Punching above our weight?

Below are two videos of the event by Chiluka Desai of WIN Foundation.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) - October 2013

WCC 10th Assembly: hopes
and aspirations
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
10 October 2013
The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) begins at the end of October and promises to be one of the most diverse gathering of Christians in the world.

The assembly will be an opportunity for renewing the worldwide ecumenical movement – infusing it with honesty, humility and hope, according to the WCC general secretary.

As to why this is the case, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, and a Lutheran pastor from the Church of Norway says, it is “through humility, honesty and hope that we can live together as humanity and a Church in a world, where justice and peace are fundamental initiatives and not merely words.”

The theme of the WCC assembly is a prayer “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.

The assembly will take place from 30 October to 8 November in Busan, Republic of Korea.
It will bring around 3,000 participants from Asia, Pacific, Africa, Europe, Middle East, North America and Latin America, including a large number of young people and several thousand Korean Christians.

In the assembly, Tveit finds the foundation of his hopes in the legacy of the WCC which began in 1948 and has continued during the past 65 years. The member churches, Tveit says, will be harvesting fruits of the work of the WCC since the last WCC assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2006, while setting directions for a new ecumenical vision for the future. There are 345 member churches in the WCC and all but a few will be represented at the assembly.

Tveit expects the WCC assembly to be an opportunity of learning.

“Churches will engage in open and accountable conversations,” he said, about issues important to the church today such as mission and evangelism, faith and order, justice, peace and unity. This dialogue is significant for the WCC assembly as “justice and peace imply effectively addressing core values of the kingdom of God, the will of God, the creator,” he says.

The proposal made by the outgoing WCC Central Committee that the assembly initiates a pilgrimage of justice and peace can unite Christians in a unique way, according to Tveit. This aspect, he says, is also echoed in the call from Pope Francis in which he has proclaimed that the Church is here to serve, for justice and peace.

“This call makes us look beyond our boundaries and limitations journeying towards being a Church together. The assembly will bring a realization of what we have received. But, we are not finished with our tasks and we have to continue our work and prayers for the Christian unity.”

The WCC assembly will feature varied spiritual expressions from churches around the world. The participants will share these reflections of Christian unity through worship, Bible study and prayer.

Having the assembly in South Korea is significant, Tveit says. “The assembly will be a place for the global fellowship of the churches to express solidarity with the Korean churches, which have suffered separations and had been calling for the reunification of the divided Korean peninsula,” he said.

Simultaneously, Asia being one of the areas of rising economies in the world, Tveit sees a great potential for the assembly to provide a critical and hopeful voice in the reality of globalization and a development paradigm that needs to change to be just and sustainable. “The WCC assembly for the churches is a place to strengthen a deeper understanding of the Asian contexts through sharing, caring and dialogue,” he said.

“Praying that this is an assembly where we all meet the God of life, we also look forward to move forward together in a pilgrimage for justice and peace ,” he concluded.

The 1st WCC Assembly took place in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1948.
Since then assemblies have been in held in
Evanston, United States, 1954; New Delhi, India, 1961; Uppsala, Sweden, 1968;
Nairobi, Kenya, 1975; Vancouver, Canada, 1983; Canberra, Australia, 1991;
Harare, Zimbabwe, 1998; and Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2006.
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service
for a just and peaceful world.
An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948,
by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing
more than 500 million Christians
from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions
in over 110 countries.
The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
The WCC general secretary is
the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.