March 2, 2005
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
the world’s churches deal with the issues that both unite and divide
them will be a focus of the World Council of Churches’ ninth assembly in
than 3,000 people, including a United Methodist delegation, are
expected to attend the Feb. 14-23 meeting at the Pontifical Catholic
University in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The theme is “God in your grace,
transform the world.”
tension among God’s people, even when it comes to worshipping together,
is a reality, according to the Rev. Larry Pickens, chief executive of
the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious
Concerns. But he believes the recent decision to use the model of
consensus as a decision-making process for the assembly is a “landmark
development” for the council and helps address past complaints by
consensus process “provides the Orthodox with a significant structural
development within the life of the WCC which enables their voices to be
heard,” he explained. “The creation of a permanent committee
representing the interests of the Orthodox will play a significant role
in the assembly and in the life of the WCC in the future.”
said that under the leadership of the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist
from Kenya, “the WCC also will be more intentional about entering into
significant dialogue with evangelicals and Pentecostals.”
is pleased that the organization is having its first assembly in Latin
America. “The testimonies of the churches and the challenges faced by
the societies throughout the continent will inform our work in Brazil,”
he told the WCC Central Committee in February.
assembly’s location also reflects the realities of today’s world as the
growth in church membership shifts to countries of the south, according
will be a significant opportunity to interact with the issues of Latin
America and, particularly, Brazil,” he said. “Brazil has an Afro-Latin
population of over 70 million people. This community carries the history
and tradition of the African diaspora experience and will serve as a
significant backdrop to the assembly.”
delegates will further refine a “reconfiguration” effort to prepare the
council for the future. “The result of this reconfiguration should
create a more streamlined and effective ecumenical movement that relates
to local levels with more precision and direction,” Pickens added.
|A UMNS photo by Tim Tanton
World Council of Churches leaders enter a stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, for an event at their eighth assembly in December 1998.
features at the assembly will include a series of “ecumenical
conversations” to allow debate on crucial issues and a “mutirao”—a
Portuguese word that means coming together for a common purpose—outside
the formal portions of the assembly.
assembly, which functions as the council’s top legislative body, meets
every seven years. The last assembly was in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998.
churches select 85 percent of the assembly delegates, with the
remaining 15 percent named by the council to balance factors such as
female and youth participation. The official United Methodist delegation
to the 2006 assembly was selected by the commission, in consultation
with the denomination’s Council of Bishops.
Pickens, those delegates include Bishop William B. Oden of Dallas,
ecumenical officer for the Council of Bishops; Bishop Ann Sherer,
president, Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns;
and Bishop B. Michael Watson of Macon, Ga.
delegates include the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive, United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries; Jan Love, chief executive, and
Lois Dauway, staff executive, Women’s Division, Board of Global
Ministries; and the Rev. Chester Aumua of Tacoma, Wash., Pacific
Islander National Caucus of United Methodists.
adult delegates are Jennifer Irvine Goto of San Ramon, Calif., Jay
Williams of New York, Christine Danielle Reyna of San Antonio, Tara
Fitzpatrick of Norman, Okla., and Motoe Yamada of Almeda, Calif.
Conference delegates are the Rev. Forbes Matonga of Harare, Zimbabwe,
Jonathan Ulanday of Tagum City, Philippines, a director of the
Commission on Christian Unity, and Ulla Skodlt Jonsson of Emmaboda,
Sally Dyck of Minneapolis is serving as the delegation’s adviser.
Alternate delegates are Elizabeth Quick of Oneida, N.Y., a director of
the United Methodist Board of Church and Society; and the Rev. Paul
Barton, assistant professor of Hispanic studies, Episcopal Theological
Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.