Prayer and Bible study undergirded the life of the eighth assembly. For Gilberto Poreal Martinez, an
Anglican minister from Uruguay, one of the high points of the assembly was reciting the Lord's
prayer at worship each morning, with each worshipper praying in his or her own language.|
The schedule of Padare workshops included midday "Prayer Summits" in the university chapel. Instead of a single evening worship, participants were offered two forms of prayer service to close each working day. Those who wanted a quiet time focused on meditation gravitated towards the chapel. Others, in search of a more spontaneous mixture of prayer, song and sharing, headed for the worship tent.
"There was a stronger focus on prayer at this assembly than we have had before, in my view," said
assembly worship committee moderator Dorothy McRae-McMahon.
Each delegate was assigned to a small group for daily Bible studies related to assembly themes. The groups brought together persons from a variety of church and cultural backgrounds. "It was good to look at the same Bible passage and share insights from so many different contexts," commented Kenichi Otsu of the National Christian Council in Japan. His small group included people from countries in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.
The subject of homosexuality came up in the small group that Loise Mereka, a member of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, attended. "There were some who felt strongly that gays and lesbians are God's creations and should be accepted," she said. "Others believe the Bible condemns it. We disagreed, but there was no confrontation, no bad feelings."
Prasanna Kumari, a minister in the United Evangelical Church in India, welcomed the chance to develop relationships with a small group of people. She found her group to be a refreshing oasis in a schedule packed with crowds and activity. "It gave us a space to come together and draw strength from one another and share insights," she said. "We all had different ways of understanding scripture, but we arrived at a common vision. What we learned is that the struggle for justice goes on, and we all have a role to play."
© 1999 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor