8th assembly/50th anniversary

Together on Holy Ground
Assembly Snapshots

Strong youth presence
A Pre-Assembly Youth Event drew some 400 young people, ages 18 to 30, from around the world to Harare. "We are greatly encouraged at the progress that has been made in terms of integrating youth into the life of the World Council of Churches," says a statement drafted by an eight-member listening team at the event. "However, it remains a tragedy that the creativity of young people continues to be denied by parts of the church... We proclaim, once again, that we are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but we have a full contribution to make today."
A graphic presence
The striking graphic designs of world-renowned Zimbabwean artist Chaz Maviyane-Davies contributed to the distinctively African flavour of the eighth assembly. His drawing of a Shona stone sculpture -- which was later carved into an actual sculpture by Zimbabwean artist Wilbert Samapundo and presented to the WCC by the churches of the host country -- became the assembly's logo; and his stunning backdrops in the plenary hall enlivened the atmosphere during sometimes tedious business sessions.

Pope John Paul II and South Korea's President Kim Dae-Jung were among the dignitaries who sent greetings to the eighth assembly. Kim Dae-Jung wrote: "On the occasion of this WCC assembly, I make special note of the fact that the Council has stood with the churches, intellectuals, students and other people of Korea during their long struggle to achieve democracy and reunification..."

Many faiths
To encourage interfaith dialogue, guests of other faiths were invited to Harare to observe the World Council of Churches in action. Among them were several Buddhists and Jewish rabbis, a Sikh, a Hindu, a Muslim and a representative of African Traditional Religions.

Wilbert Samapundo working on
the Shona stone sculpture
which became the assembly logo

Photo by Chris Black/WCC
Click on the photo to order (ref. 7067-13a)

On the road again
A 31-member Anglican youth choir from Tanzania travelled four days by ferryboat and bus to get to the assembly. They performed in an African cultural evening programme along with singers, dancers and actors from Zimbabwe and several other African countries. "We'd been preparing for this trip for four months," said their pastor Jackton Lugumira. "This was our first performance for an international audience." The morning after the programme they climbed on the bus to begin their long trip home.

"Decade to Overcome Violence"
Motions and amendments to documents from the floor received a largely cool reception, as the assembly hurried to complete its agenda on the final day. One exception was a motion by a delegate from the Mennonite Church in Germany that the WCC proclaim the years from 2000 to 2010 as a "Decade to Overcome Violence". Fernando Enns persuaded the assembly to vote to approve his decade proposal on the spot rather than referring the idea for further study and development.

Perfect attendance record
A true veteran of ecumenism, 78-year-old J. Robert Nelson has attended all eight assemblies of the World Council of Churches, three of them as an official delegate. The United Methodist minister from Houston, Texas (USA), says he attended the first assembly in 1948 in Amsterdam out of curiosity. After that, he was hooked. According to Nelson, his favourite assembly was New Delhi in 1961, when a number of Eastern European Orthodox churches joined the Council and Roman Catholics attended as observers for the first time.

Ecumenical wedding
Kim Hye-Ran of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and David Cragg of the United Church of Canada issued an open invitation to assembly delegates and visitors to attend their wedding in the University of Zimbabwe Chapel. The two are students who met on theological exchanges between their schools. In celebration of their ecumenical and international union, they chose to be married in Harare while Hye-Ran served as a youth delegate to the assembly.

See you in Seoul?
The Korean Methodist Church has invited the World Council of Churches to hold its next assembly -- probably in the year 2005 -- in Seoul. The Methodists expect Korea, which has been divided since the end of the second world war, to be reunited by 2005. If not, they said, "all world churches should come to Korea and pray to God to solve the problem of Korea's division". The WCC central committee is unlikely to make a decision about the next assembly's location before 2001.

The youth choir from the Christian Council Diocese of west Tanganyka, Tanzania

Photo by Chris Black/WCC
Click on the photo to order (ref. 7123-29)

Orthodox delegates leaving opening worship

Photo by Chris Black/WCC
Click on the photo to order (ref. 7053-19a)

The message tent quickly became a major information point on the sprawling campus

Photo by Chris Black/WCC
Click on the photo to order (ref. 7111-22)

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