“With growing inequality and injustice in today’s world, it seems that no one dares to confront the false god of mammon. To be authentic discipleships of Jesus Christ today, it is our calling to critically and actively interfere with global hegemony of the economy’s mighty power,” said Council for World Mission (CWM) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum in a thematic plenary session on Christian unity and the churches’ common witness during the 11th World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany.
This thematic plenary session was a platform for panelists to share their reflections on and mount a resounding call for unity in diversity, highlight churches’ ecumenical work in diverse contexts around the world, and the new horizons for the mission of the Church in the ecumenical movement.
The CWM General Secretary spoke about the 14th World Mission Conference in 2018, where over 1,200 delegates explored what missionary calling in terms of transforming discipleship meant and it culminated in the Arusha Call to Discipleship. “Transforming discipleship is a calling towards a celebration of life in its fullness with the people in their specific context and communities, and the Arusha Call to Discipleship provided signposts and directions for renewal of mission in unity in our time. It compels us to confront false gods where the economy reigns supreme, and human life is measured in terms of economic utility,” added Dr Keum.
He emphasized that a key goal of unity and mission should be to reflect on how we understand and give expression of the power of God’s love to defeat politics of hatred, the evil of division, and the culture of fear.
H.E. Most Rev. Brian Farrell, secretary of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and vice-president of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, spoke about how the work on transforming discipleship is crucial in deepening our ecumenism. To avoid a unilateral approach in ecumenical work, it is important to remember that we are the recipients of divine grace beyond our plans, our political, social and humanitarian activities. While these activities are our obligations and our duty, it is the grace of Christ that will bring us to reconciliation and unity, he reminded.
Rev. Canon Dr Rosemary Muthoni Mbogo, delegate and provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya said that in the African context, churches have demonstrated remarkable unity in worship, and programmatic areas of environment and social justice, as well as humanitarian intervention undertaken collectively in communities in need. On top of joint humanitarian efforts, the Roman Catholic Church, mainstream churches and Pentecostals have met to discuss and raise their voices to advocate for their social concerns, education, health and economy on a national level.
During this time of world crisis where “the luxurious expense of Christian division is no longer affordable”, Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Rev. Justin Welby issued a challenge to all present: re-discover the spiritual passion for ecumenism, to face fears of each other and of the world together, to love one another with Christ’s love, and to work together in common witness towards greater unity, in solidarity with those suffering. We are called to offer our obedience to God in humility, to seek afresh the unity – in the diversity and richness of God’s creation – to which we are all called to.
Image credit: Albin Hillert/WCC