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Sep. 17, 2022
World’s churches converge on Germany city of Karlsruhe to pray and act
From 31 August to 8 September, thousands of Christians converged on the German city of Karlsruhe for the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, the first in Europe since Uppsala in 1968. https://www.oikoumene.org/news/worlds-churches-converge-on-germany-city-of-karlsruhe-to-pray-and-act 7 September 2022, Karlsruhe, Germany: H.E. Archbishop
Gomidas Ohanian and the Rev. Kristin Tómasdóttir pray during the morning prayer service at the World Council of Churches' 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany. The assembly takes place August 31 to September 8 under the theme "Christ's Love Moves
the World to Reconciliation and Unity." Photo: Mike DuBose/WCC 16 September 2022
The global body sent many messages to the world related to the theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and
Dr Agnes Abuom opened the gathering, the last for the moderator, a Kenyan Anglican.
"Absolutely fundamental to the WCC and the ecumenical movement are relationships," said Abuom. "That's what makes
experiences like the assembly so precious and formative. We encounter one another – in all our uniqueness – and recognize a neighbour in the stranger, unity in the midst of our diversity."
WCC acting general secretary Rev.
Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca shared a report that touched upon the climate crisis, COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and many other challenges in the world.
“In responding to the hardships of our times, we need one another, we depend on one
another, and we can advance only if we walk together, not in separation,” said the Romanian Orthodox who has led the WCC since April 2020.
German federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivered a keynote speech and the minister-president
of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann also offered remarks. https://www.oikoumene.org/news/worlds-churches-converge-on-germany-city-of-karlsruhe-to-pray-and-act 31 August 2022, Karlsruhe, Germany: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal President of Germany, addresses the 11th Assembly of
the World Council of Churches, held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September 2022. Photo: Gjermund Øystese/WCC
Steinmeier recalled with thankfulness that the German churches were permitted to attend the 1st WCC Assembly
in Amsterdam in 1948 and were welcomed as members on an equal footing. "To this day, we are grateful for this!" he said.
The war in Ukraine was in thoughts, prayers, and words on several occasions at the assembly, Steinmeier calling
it a "war of aggression.”
The opening prayer included a sermon by the WCC President, Patriarch John X of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch (in Syria) and all the East. He called on his listeners and their churches and nations
“to choose to pass through the suffering Middle East, as Christ chose to pass through Samaria. Pass and look at Christ’s beloved ones there, as he looked at the Samaritans, without disregarding those who differ from you, without excluding the people
of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Holy Land of Palestine, especially because their ancestors served the gospel of reconciliation and spread it to all nations.” https://www.oikoumene.org/news/worlds-churches-converge-on-germany-city-of-karlsruhe-to-pray-and-act 4 September 2022, Karslruhe, Germany: A ecumenical service
with protestants, catholics evangelical free church and farsi speaking community in Schlosshof Ettlingen at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September, under the theme "Christ's Love Moves the
World to Reconciliation and Unity." Photo: Gjermund Øystese/WCC
Local German host churches welcomed more than 3,500 people to the assembly—and to the city of Karlsruhe. Over 70 weekend excursions across Germany and into
France and Switzerland were organized on the weekend. More than 200 cultural and information events took place in the host city itself. Following a reception hosted by Karlsruhe Mayor Frank Mentrup, assembly participants were invited to a special light show
at the Karlsruhe palace.
Addressing the world’s challenges
The WCC 11th Assembly issued four public statements and four minutes expressing concern and suggesting ways to address some of the world’s
Recognizing the need for, “renewed dialogue within the ecumenical movement,” the statement strongly affirms “the commitment of the WCC and its member churches to peace making through inter-religious
dialogue and cooperation at all levels,” and calling for a global ceasefire.
It strongly affirms that
war is incompatible with God's very nature.
"We urge all parties to withdraw and refrain from military action in the vicinity of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and other such locations that may risk unimaginable threats to current
and future generations," reads the text. https://www.oikoumene.org/news/worlds-churches-converge-on-germany-city-of-karlsruhe-to-pray-and-act 2 September 2022, Karlsruhe, Germany: H.E. Archbishop Yevstratiy of Chernihiv and Nizhiyn (Ukraine) speaks during a thematic plenary focused on Europe, at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August
to 8 September, under the theme "Christ's Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity." Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
"The WCC affirmed the rightful place of Israel in the community of nations, recognizing its legitimate security
"At the same time, we affirm the right of the Palestinians for self-determination and that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967, as well as settlement construction and expansion in the occupied territories,
is illegal under international law and must be ended."
The assembly also released the following four minutes:
Minute on the situation in West Papua. (https://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/minute-on-the-situation-in-west-papua)
The minute expresses grave concern over serious, systemic violations of security and human rights in West Papua. "The Indigenous Papuan people – the vast majority of whom are Christians – continue to suffer serious and systemic violations of their
physical security and human rights,” it reads.
During the “Syriac genocide,” or “SAYFO,” in 1915, over half a million Syriac-Aramaic Christians lost their lives. “Though taking
place in the same historical and political context, these events are understood as distinct and separate from the Armenian genocide” the minute reads.
The assembly recommended increasing youth participation in the global ecumenical fellowship. The assembly received,
affirmed, and endorsed a Youth Statement signed by 38 youth members of the assembly, including 12 delegates and nine advisers. The assembly is referring to the WCC central committee for action, noting “the need for full youth involvement in all commissions,
committees, advisory groups, and reference groups of the WCC, but also the apparent reluctance of some member churches to nominate young people to the central committee and other committees.”
COVID-19 impacted income, ways of
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 resulted in reduced income for the WCC and led to an adaptation in ways of working.
"When the assembly met in Busan in 2013, in the wake of the financial
crisis of 2008, there was concern over both the decreasing levels of income, and the loans taken to refinance the pension fund," the report said.
"However, the launch of the WCC strategic plan by central committee in 2014 marked the
start of a new cycle, during which a remarkable level of stability in contributions had been attained."
All are called by Christ’s love to repentance, reconciliation, and justice in the face of war, inequality, and sins against creation, delegates at assembly stated in a message issued on 8 September.
"We will find
a strength to act from a unity founded in Christ’s love, for it enables us to learn the things that make for peace, to transform division into reconciliation, and to work for the healing of our living planet,” delegates stated.