ADDIS ABABA : Representatives of a broad range of Christian churches and organisations met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from January 14-19, 2012 to complete a report and make recommendations for significant advances toward Christian unity and inter-religious co-operation.
The Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st Century came into being following the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 2006. It will submit its final report to the diverse bodies which its members represent during the build-up to the 10th Assembly of the WCC at Busan, Korea in 2013.
Fr Vineeth Koshy, Executive Secretary, National Council of Churches from Nagpur, India from Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is the member of the committee and took part in the meeting.
The committee’s membership was designed to include participants drawn not only from the WCC but also from the Roman Catholic Church, global Christian confessional communions, regional ecumenical organisations, national councils of churches, specialised ministries, youth movements and renewal movements, as well as members of Pentecostal, charismatic and evangelical communities.
Their recommendations are aimed at suggesting concrete patterns, through which Christians may explore “constructive ways of living out our unity even in the face of the challenge of engaging the theological and ethical issues that threaten to divide.”
In a time of worldwide cultural upheaval, the report aims to motivate world Christianity to pursue the biblical calling to unity in Christ (John 17:21) and to promote abundant life for all (John 10:10). This common vocation ranges from actions undertaken in the global context to those of congregations and their associates on the local level.
The group acknowledges, “The ecumenical movement has its centre in the Triune God and not in us nor our own efforts, plans and desires.”
To enable dialogue and co-operation among Christians, the committee recommends that the WCC “take on a convening role as a gift to churches and ecumenical partners”, while noting that this convening role “is exercised in recognition of and within the limits set by the 1950 Toronto statement, which clarifies that the WCC is not a church or a super-church.”
Those who are active in the ecumenical movement are advised to take into account today’s “financial constraints” and to discover creative ways of “staying focused and coherent while encouraging churches to invest in the vision and work, and finding resources to sustain the life-giving impact of the ecumenical movement.”
The report calls on Christians to reflect on the implications for churches, ministries and mission programmes of the ongoing shift in the demographic centre of Christianity from the northern hemisphere to the global South.
During the meeting in Addis Ababa, members of the committee met formally with leaders of two national churches namely the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, Mekane Yesus.
Inputs from: Rev Fr Vineeth Koshy