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'A different world is possible'

Accra Confession calls for economic, ecological justice

April 29, 2010

LOUISVILLE

The Accra Confession represents a ministry of ecological and economic justice, with the idea that a different world is possible, said the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Kirkpatrick spoke at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary's Festival of Theology & Reunion, held April 25-28.

WARC adopted the Accra Confession in 2004. It's not a doctrinal confession — it challenges economic doctrines that exclude the poor and vulnerable and deny God’s sovereignty.

Kirkpatrick, a former stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)' General Assembly and visiting professor of ecumenical and global ministries at LPTS, called the formation of the confession a "kairos moment" for the ecumenical community.

The WARC General Council met in Accra, Ghana, in 2004. During that time, participants studied the book of Ruth and heard from those who had suffered from loss of dignity, the affects of HIV/AIDS, genocide and global warming.

The economic systems that impoverish some while making others rich are "systems of evil," Kirkpatrick said.

At its heart, Accra is a series of affirmations of faith, such as the belief in God as the creator and sustainer of life, that God is a God of justice and that the public justice and peace ministries of Jesus attest to that God.

Kirkpatrick said that when he left Accra in 2004, he believed in the work done there but was unsure what would happen. He wondered if WARC was a match for the forces that sustain the global economic order.

"In the rest of the Global North, the Accra Confession was like a voice calling in the wilderness," he said.

But Kirkpatrick said he now sees a new openness to hearing the confession.

"I have a renewed hope that what was a kairos moment in Accra may yet be a kairos moment in the wider Christian community," he said, adding that economic issues have hit hard for many in the Global North.

It's becoming more clear that a global covenant for economic and ecological justice is needed, and that it's essential to "build up economies and ecologies that maintain life."

"Most of all, as always, we need to proclaim the gospel," Kirkpatrick said, adding that it's important to articulate biblical principles of justice and live these values as spiritual expression of the gospel.  

"In a world where might makes right ... we are being called to build such Christian connections.

In Christ, a different world is possible," Kirkpatrick said. "This is the dream of the Accra Confession, and may it be our dream as well."

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