8th assembly/50th anniversary

Together on the Way
8. Additional Documents

8.1. Letter from the Decade Festival -- Churches in Solidarity with Women
Over a thousand women and about thirty men met on the campus of Belvedere Technical Teachers Training College in Harare from 27-30 November to assess the now-completed Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-98). The Decade was the latest in a series of initiatives through the WCC, including the creation in Evanston (1954) of the Department on the Cooperation of Women and Men in the Church, and a four-year study process on the Community of Women and Men in the Church which concluded with an international conference in Sheffield, England (1981). The Decade Festival was presented to assembly delegates in plenary on the morning of 7 December (click here to read the Decade Plenary presentations). Six people made presentations. Vinton Anderson, moderator, posed two questions to the assembly:
  1. "What experience have you had of the Decade in your own church?" and
  2. "What kind of personal commitment do you make to continue the stand in solidarity with women?"
Bertrice Wood concluded the session by declaring that the Decade is over as a WCC project, and by presenting the letter from the Festival participants to the assembly, entitled "From Solidarity to Accountability".

Seven people spoke from the floor. Comments included, on the one hand, an expression of support for the ordination of women based on the new humanity we receive in Christ, and on the other, opposition to it based on the "spirit and order of the early church"; the need for churches to move from solidarity to accountability in areas such as violence against women, exclusion of women, economic injustice, and racism; and concern voiced by one Orthodox woman delegate who had participated in the Decade Festival that the final text of the letter did not reflect full consensus in all aspects of moral and theological positions, especially concerning reproductive rights.

8.2. Response to the Plenary on the Ecumenical Decade -- Churches in Solidarity with Women
Policy Reference Committee II developed a response to the Ecumenical Decade plenary which was approved by assembly delegates on 12 December.

8.3. Policy Reference Committee II Report -- Appendix I: Sudan
Rather than attempting to address specific crises in individual African countries, the assembly response to the Africa plenary (section 6.4) spoke in general of the "range of problems and challenges facing the governments, people and churches... throughout this vast continent". However, after the poignant testimony of Bishop Paride Taban of the Roman Catholic diocese of Torit, Sudan, and the deadly bomb attack in his diocese a week after his sermon in Harare during the assembly, Policy Reference Committee II decided to append a "Background Note on Sudan" to its report.

8.4. Policy Reference Committee II Report -- Appendix II: Globalization
In order to provide an additional resource for the first and basic recommendation on globalization in the Policy Reference Committee II report - "that the challenge of globalization should become a central emphasis of the work of the WCC, building upon many significant efforts of the World Council of Churches in the past" - the Committee appended to its report an introductory document growing out of a WCC staff text and presented to the executive committee just prior to the assembly.

8.5. Youth Participation in the WCC
This text, based on discussions by the WCCs mandated working group on youth during a meeting in Geneva in November 1998, was adopted by the participants in the pre-assembly youth event.

8.6. Indigenous Peoples
This text was adopted at a pre-assembly gathering of Indigenous Peoples, held in Harare on 1 and 2 December, and attended by 42 people from 19 countries; many of whom attended the assembly as delegates of their church.

8.7. Responses from Evangelical Participants
The group of evangelicals who met regularly during the assembly represented a broad range of theological positions and sensibilities within the evangelical movement. As at several previous WCC assemblies and major conferences, the group worked on drafting a letter that would be publicly addressed to the assembly as an "evangelical response" to the event. The text eventually agreed upon was signed by most of those who had taken part in various ways in the work of the group and the discussions. A number of persons who signed the letter nevertheless felt that it did not sufficiently address from an evangelical point of view certain issues debated by the assembly, such as globalization and debt relief. They decided therefore to write an additional letter. To indicate the diversity and complementarity of these evangelical responses, both letters are published here.

  1. A Jubilee call: A Letter to the WCC by Evangelical Participants at Harare
  2. An Evangelical Response to Harare
8.8. A Letter from Children
Children and organizations involved in two WCC consultations on children's issues in 1996 and 1997 joined with street children from Harare and children from village schools in Zimbabwe to take part in a Padare offering on "The Dignity of Children". The children, from 13 countries, wrote a message requesting support and leadership from WCC member churches.

8.9. Visions for the Future by Philip Potter
Philip Potter, a WCC staff member for 24 years and general secretary from 1972 to 1984, was the logical choice as a speaker for the "Journey to Jubilee" celebration of the Council's 50th anniversary on 13 December. At the first assembly in Amsterdam fifty years earlier, he had been the spokesperson for the active contingent of youth participants (for the text of the other presentation in the session, by South African President Nelson Mandela, see section 6.5).

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