world council of churches

Eighth Assembly
Assembly Committees

The Work of the Nominations Committee

One of the most important tasks of a World Council of Churches assembly is to elect from among its delegates the members of the new Central Committee, which will give leadership to the WCC in the years until the next assembly.

The WCC Constitution specifies the number of Central Committee members to be elected (not more than 145 from the member churches and not more than 5 from the associate member churches). The WCC Rules provide for the election of an Assembly Nominations Committee to prepare the list of nominees for the assembly to vote on. The Rules also indicate the criteria the Nominations Committee must follow in preparing its slate. Besides the qualifications of the persons nominated, these criteria include fair and adequate representation of the confessional, geographical and cultural spread of the WCC membership, of its major interests, and of lay persons men, women and young people.

Obviously, any process in which some persons are chosen and others are not may lead to disagreements; and the election of a new Central Committee has often been a difficult and even contentious one at WCC assemblies. Already in 1994, the Central Committee began a discussion, later continued in the Assembly Planning Committee, of how nominations might be handled in Harare.

On the basis of these discussions, the Central Committee in September 1995 adopted a process for nominations at the eighth assembly. A key element of this has been intensified consultation with member churches prior to the assembly, encouraging them to take an earlier and more active role than previously in drawing up lists of names to be considered. Churches were informed that

In particular, churches were encouraged to consult together with other churches in their region or sub-region in order to arrive at joint lists of possible nominees from that region or sub-region. In formulating these lists, which will be used by the Nominations Committee, the churches were asked (1) to submit more names than the number of seats expected to be filled from their region or sub-region and (2) insofar as possible to follow the criteria for balanced representation set forth in the WCC Rules.

In line with earlier practice, it has been agreed that 25 percent of the seats on the new Central Committee should be filled by delegates from the WCC's Orthodox member churches.

It is hoped that the process approved by the Central Committee will enable 90 percent of the seats on the new Central Committee to be filled by delegates proposed by regional and sub-regional groups and by the Orthodox churches.

The considerable information about potential nominees gathered through this process is therefore already available to the Nominations Committee as it begins its work at the assembly. Basically, its task is then to select nominees from the lists thus provided and to fill out the slate in a way that achieves a balanced representation overall. In so doing, the committee will consult as necessary with delegates from member churches and from various regions. To facilitate what is evidently an extremely complicated task, the Central Committee also decided that, as in the previous assembly, members of the Nominations Committee are not eligible for nomination to the Central Committee.

Delegates will also be given an opportunity to propose names for the new Central Committee. The precise procedures and deadlines for doing so will be explained during the plenary session when the Nominations Committee presents its initial report with a first proposed slate of nominees for the Central Committee. The WCC Rules set forth three requirements for any proposal of an additional nomination: it must be (1) made in writing (2) by six delegates and (3) proposed as a replacement for a particular name on the list presented by the Nominations Committee. The Nominations Committee will consider these responses, bearing in mind all the criteria for balanced representation mentioned above. On this basis, it will formulate a second slate to be presented in a plenary session for the assembly to vote on. Normally, this vote is taken by ballot.

Following the election, the new Central Committee will hold a brief initial meeting to choose from among its own members a nominations committee responsible for proposing a slate of Central Committee officers and Executive Committee members. The new Central Committee will hold one further meeting during the assembly for these elections and any other organizational matters which need to be dealt with prior to its first full meeting, probably in September 1999.

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