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WCRC joins declaration to overcome Reformation divisions

The World Communion of Reformed Churches has formally joined an ecumenical statement with Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists aiming to overcome divisions between Protestants and Roman Catholics from the time of the Protestant Reformation.

“Today is a historic day,” said Jerry Pillay, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), at a ceremony on 5 July in the eastern German town of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther lived and worked. “The documents we are signing today are significant and symbolic of the road we are to travel.”

Pillay was speaking as the WCRC, which groups more than 225 Protestant churches worldwide, formally associated itself with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, originally signed by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 1999.

“Catholics and Lutherans stated that a ‘consensus in basic truths exists between Lutherans and Catholics’ in regard to the theological controversy with was a major cause of the split in the Western church in the 16th century,” said Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity during in the ceremony.

The declaration stated that mutual condemnations pronounced by the two sides during the Reformation do not apply to their current teaching on justification.

The congregation at Wittenberg’s Stadtkirche (Town Church), broke into spontaneous applause as WCRC General Secretary Chris Ferguson and Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist representatives signed a statement confirming the WCRC’s association with the joint declaration.

“Today we are not only signing a statement, we are building a church together,” said the Rev. Najla Kassab from Lebanon in her sermon at the service in the Stadtkirche, where Luther used to preach.

The ceremony took place in the year marking the 500th anniversary of Luther’s denunciation of church corruption in his 95 Theses, an event that helped set in motion the Reformation and centuries of division between Protestants and Catholics.

“The present achievement and commitment are viewed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and Reformed as part of their pursuit of the full communion and common witness to the world which is the will of Christ for all Christians,” said WMC president Jong Chun Park.

Pope Francis, in a message read by Bishop Farrell, described the ceremony as “an eloquent sign of our commitment to walking together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, on a journey from conflict to communion, from division to reconciliation.”

During the service, the LWF and the WCRC also signed a “Wittenberg Witness” pledging to strengthen cooperation and joint action.

“We commit ourselves to redouble our common efforts to embody our unity, together resisting the forces of injustice and exclusion,” said Martin Junge, LWF general secretary.

At the service there were prayers of repentance and lamentation for past divisions and wrongs, and commitments to work for unity and justice.

“The Reformation taught us accountability,” said Kassab in her sermon.

“Wherever we are in the church we are held accountable,” said Kassab, who was ordained in March as the second female minister in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. “Today we are reminded of Luther’s words from his pulpit, ‘A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.’”

All human beings are valuable in the eyes of God no matter what their colour or gender or race or passport, she said.

“Here I stand, a Middle Eastern women in the pulpit of Luther,” said Kassab, to spontaneous applause. “If only Luther had imagined this, this could have been his 96th question to the church. Not, ‘Why there is a women in this pulpit?’, but ‘Why did take so long?’”

The ceremony in Wittenberg took place during the WCRC General Council which has brought about 1000 participants to the eastern German city of Leipzig.

The WCRC groups more than 225 Protestant churches with a combined membership of about 80 million Christians in Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian churches in over 100 countries. Its offices are in Hannover, Germany.

(By Stephen Brown. Article and pictures source: WCRC Press Release July 5, 2017 | http://wcrc.ch/news/wcrc-joins-declaration-to-overcome-reformation-divisions)

Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on 21 May 2017

Dear Friends,

We are requesting you as participating organisations of WCC-EAA, that each of your organisation is able to sign up and endorse the Global ‘Day of Prayer to End Famine’ on 21 May 2017 to be launched tomorrow. We are grateful to you if you have already endorsed it and agreed to be one of the organisations launching the call.  The General Secretaries of WCC & AACC had send out a call last week. The letter is attached with this message- please see below for the link to  register as partners in the campaign.

All this work is possible because of your committed guidance and support. We would very much want you register and back this Day of Prayer and to promote it among your partners and networks.

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A Call for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine

WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Geneva, April 21, 2017

A Call for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine

Christ has Risen!

This period between Easter and the Ascension is one of the most significant times in the church calendar. It is a period of 40 days after his resurrection, when Jesus lived among the people, continuing his ministry, restoring and nourishing hope and giving life with dignity. It is also a period, when, as people of faith, we are obliged to turn our attention, prayerfully and with dedication, to the most crying needs in our society.

Currently, more people face famine today than any time in modern history. Famine has been declared in South Sudan. Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are on the brink of famine. Globally, more than 20 million people are at risk of starvation, while millions more suffer from drought and food  shortages.  In this desperate situation children suffer most and become increasingly vulnerable. The UN is calling this the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.

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Churches’ Commitments to Children | Letter from WCC General Secretary

Note to all member churches and partners interested in joining “Churches’ Commitments to Children”

The letter by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary offers the “Churches’ Commitments to Children” as a common basis for churches and partners engaged in improving child well-being. It is an invitation to move forward in our pilgrimage of justice and peace with children – recognizing that they face diverse challenges, yet are equipped with unique resources.

Some churches may want to implement one of the Commitments, others may implement several or all of the Commitments – depending on challenges faced by children and the churches’ capacity.

Some churches may want to share their expertise in promoting child well-being with other churches; others may request support to reach some of their objectives.

Please share and discuss the “Churches’ Commitments to Children” document with all relevant groups in your church. If you would like to post it on your website you may download the online version which is available at http://www.oikoumene.org/children.

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