In a keynote speech on the theme of the 13th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) “Called to Prophesy, Reconcile and Heal”, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) said: “There is no true prophecy that does not speak both the critical truth and contribute to the building up of a vision, a dream of the new life in common.”
The CCA assembly, which is taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15- 20 April, also reached “an important milestone in the ecumenical movement,” Tveit said referring to the election of its first woman general secretary.
The Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang was elected as the next general secretary of the CCA, a regional body of over 150 member churches from different denominations.
In his 15 April speech, Tveit said that the “combination of callings” expressed in the theme points to the “significant contribution” of Asian churches to the “global reflection of what it means to be one”.
“From your Asian tradition I believe you are enabled, maybe more than many others, to see different perspectives together as a whole, in a wider harmony,” Tveit said. As the WCC is going to hold its own assembly in Busan, Korea, in 2013, it will provide an opportunity to learn from the experiences of Asian Christians.
Prophetic witness and reconciliation for the Middle East
“The reconciliation of God through Christ is not ignorance of what is wrong, a minimizing of the problems of evil, sin and death,” Tveit said in his speech on the assembly theme. “The forgiveness of sin is a proactive act of God to stop sin, to break the evil circle, so that we shall not sin. Thus, the proclamation of the gospel of reconciliation will always also be a word of truth, a prophetic witness, a critical approach.”
Illustrating the “bold accompaniment and costly solidarity” which the ecumenical movement owes its members “in their engagement for peace with justice and in their response to the call to prophetic witness and mission of reconciliation and healing”, Tveit invited the Asian churches to respond to a December 2009 call by Palestinian Christians to stand against injustice, violence and occupation.
The call, entitled “Moment of truth: a word of faith, hope, and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering” has become known as the “Kairos Palestine” document.
“Here our prophetic witness needs to be expressed through our love for the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis, as all parties need healing and reconciliation,” Tveit said in Kuala Lumpur.
While Tveit said there were complicated issues at stake in the discussion surrounding the appropriate means of non-violent resistance. However, he pointed out that “from the World Council of Churches the call to not buy products illegally produced in occupied territories and the call to member churches for proper stewardship of investments so as not to benefit from occupation remain both well known and unchanged.”