Nearly two dozen representatives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are in Karlsruhe, Germany for the next few weeks for the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. The council represents more than 580 million Christians worldwide, representing 325 churches from 120 countries. In addition to the PC(USA), other denominations include Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, Reformed churches, as well as other independent churches.
The assembly normally meets every eight years and was initially scheduled to meet two years ago. However, because of the COVID pandemic, the gathering was delayed.
More than 4,000 representatives are participating under the theme of “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”
Dr. Dianna Wright, director of Ecumenical & Interreligious Relations with the Office of the General Assembly, is among the PC(USA) representatives participating as a delegation advisor. The Rev. Amantha Barbee and the Rev. Dr. Neal Presa are also serving as delegates.
“Delegates will be involved in committee work and will bring items to the full assembly for conversation and vote. The format is similar to the PC(USA)’s General Assembly, but things will run concurrently,” said Wright. “Home group meetings will occur while Bible study is taking place. There are some pre-assembly things happening as participants divide into discussion groups and ecumenical conversations much like our Riverside Conversations at our assembly. They bring them back to whole assembly for a vote.”
Wright says she will be taking part in some of those meetings.
“I will facilitate home groups that will have conversations after every plenary. These will be in-person meetings, not hybrid,” she said. “They will use that time to reflect on discussions that come out of plenary sessions.”
The gathering will focus on a number of issues including the environment, Israel-Palestine, gender justice, the conflict in Ukraine as well as violence in other parts of world, such as Myanmar and South Sudan.
Wright adds that the WCC will be more than meetings and worship. It will also involve community outreach.
“Conference attendees will be able to sign up for a weekend journey to participate in community conversations in Germany as well as France and Switzerland,” she said. “We actually get to participate in local conversations like we do for Hands & Feet.”
Many of the PC(USA) representatives will be leading or participating in the scheduled workshops throughout the conference. Other attendees from the Presbyterian Mission Agency include:
- The Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus – PDA Director/CPJ Associate Director (WCC Specialized Ministries/ACT Alliance Board)
- The Rev. Philip Woods – WM Associate Director, Strategy & Program (WCC CWME Executive)
- The Rev. Dr. Luciano Kovacs – Area Coordinator, Middle East & Europe (workshop facilitator)
- The Rev. Dr. Valdir Franca - Area Coordinator, Latin America & Caribbean
- Hery Ramambasoa – Acting Area Coordinator, Asia & Pacific
- The Rev. Denise Anderson – Director, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries
- The Rev. Dr. Barry Ensign-George – Coordinator, Theology & Worship/TFE
- The Rev. Lee Catoe – ACSWP/YAV (Workshop facilitator)
- Ellen Sherby – Acting Associate Director, Global Connections
The Conference continues through September 8.