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WCC invites churches to pray for transformation

During the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches Feb. 14 to 23 and at the pre-assembly women’s gathering Feb. 11 to 13, Fig Tree editor Mary Stamp heard stories of people, learned about world events given little press in the United States and became informed on actions of churches around the world in response to their situations.

Indigenous worship
Indigenous people from around the world lead worship.

At the gathering, she experienced unity and solidarity among Christians across traditional divisions of Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, “mainline” Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches.

She found ready agreement among people from diverse cultures and confessions on commitment to economic justice, human rights and overcoming violence.

In this issue, she reports on ecumenical alternatives developed to the economic globalization of international multinational corporations. In coming issues, she will share more stories and insights.

The message from the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, is an invitation to prayer. Message committee moderator Wendy Evans—the only committee moderator who was a youth—explained that the message is neither a report nor a full list of concerns, but it “reflects the heart of the Assembly.”  She was a delegate from the United Church of Canada.

African singing
Songs at worship energized participants.

The committee brought three drafts of the message to decision-making sessions of the assembly, accepting suggestions for revisions each time. The final version of the message was agreed to by consensus on Feb. 23, in the final business session.

This is the text of the official message: “God, in your Grace, Transform the World: Message of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches: An Invitation to Prayer”:

Maake worship
People from all continents gathered.

 

Sisters and brothers, we greet you in Christ. As representatives of churches from all the world’s regions, we gather in Porto Alegre, Brazil, meeting in the first decade of the third millennium, in the first assembly of the World Council of Churches held in Latin America. We have been invited here to join in a festa da vida, the feast of life. We are praying, reflecting on the scriptures, struggling and rejoicing together in our unity and diversity, and seeking to listen carefully to one another in the spirit of consensus.

Meeting in February 2006, we are made aware by Assembly participants of cries arising daily in their home countries and regions due to disasters, violent conflicts and conditions of oppression and suffering. Yet we are also empowered by God to bear witness to transformation in personal lives, churches, societies and the world as a whole.

Specific challenges and calls to action are being communicated to the churches and the world in the reports and decisions of the Assembly, such as: the quest for Christian unity; our mid-term call to recommitment to the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010); discernment of prophetic and programmatic means to achieve global economic justice; engagement in inter-religious dialogue; full inter-generational participation of all women and men, and common statements addressing the churches and the world on public issues.

The theme of this Ninth Assembly is a prayer, “God, in your grace, transform the world”. In prayer our hearts are transformed, and so we offer our message as prayer:

God of grace,

together we turn to you in prayer, for it is you who unite us:
you are the one God-—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—
in whom we believe,
you alone empower us for good,
you send us out across the earth in mission and service
in the name of Christ.
Consensus
Decisions were made by consensus.
We confess before you and all people:
We have been unworthy servants.
We have misused and abused the creation.
We have wounded one another by divisions everywhere.
We have often failed to take decisive action
against environmental destruction, poverty,
racism, caste-ism, war and genocide.
We are not only victims but also perpetrators of violence.
In all this, we have fallen short as disciples of Jesus Christ
who in his incarnation came to save us and teach us
how to love.
Forgive us, God, and teach us to forgive one another.

God, in your grace, transform the world.

God, hear the cries of all creation,
the cries of the waters, the air, the land and all living things;
the cries of all who are exploited, marginalized,
abused and victimized,
all who are dispossessed and silenced, 
their humanity ignored,
all who suffer from any form of disease, from war
and from the crimes of the arrogant who hide from the truth,
distort memory and deny the possibility of reconciliation.
God, guide all in seats of authority towards decisions
of moral integrity.

God, in your grace, transform the world.

We give thanks for your blessings and signs of hope
that are already present in the world,
Women March
Women march to end violence.
in people of all ages and in those who have gone
before us in faith;
in movements to overcome violence in all its forms,
not just for a decade but for always;
in the deep and open dialogues that have begun
both within our own churches and with those
of other faiths in the search for mutual
understanding and respect;
in all those working together for justice and peace—
both in exceptional circumstances and every day.
We thank you for the good news of Jesus Christ,
and the assurance of resurrection.

God, in your grace, transform the world.

Altar Flowers
Cross with symbol for assembly theme
By the power and guidance of your Holy Spirit, O God,
may our prayers never be empty words
but an urgent response to your living Word-—
in nonviolent direct action for positive change,
in bold, clear, specific acts of solidarity, liberation,
healing and compassion,
readily sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
Open our hearts to love and to see that all people
are made in your image,
to care for creation and affirm life in all
its wondrous diversity.
Transform us in the offering of ourselves so that we
may be your partners in transformation
to strive for the full, visible unity of the one
Church of Jesus Christ,
to become neighbors to all,
as we await with eager longing the full revelation
  of your rule in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.

God, in your grace, transform the world.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

For details of decisions, events, programs, people, photos and videos of the assembly, visit the website, www.wcc-assembly.info, The Fig Tree website, www.thefigtree.org, and future issues of The Fig Tree.

 

By Mary Stamp, The Fig Tree - © March 2006