World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
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13 December 1998

WCC Eighth Assembly - Press Release No. 44

The World Council of Churches has rededicated itself to "the African dream and agenda for the 21st century". A statement adopted by the WCC Eighth Assembly on Saturday (12 December) said that the WCC had already "sought to engage creatively and in solidarity with Africa and to stimulate a new way of looking at Africa".

"We are proud in seeing a vision of the journey of hope of African churches for the development of the continent for the 21st century," the WCC said. "We are determined to work out this vision that promises life with dignity for the African people."

This vision, it said:

  • Called the churches and Africa to work together and creatively "to be in solidarity with one another, to accompany those among us with burdens too heavy to carry alone".
  • Compelled the churches and Africa to work to eliminate "the barriers and walls that divide and enslave us".
  • Provided ways "to reconcile broken relationships and heal wounds inflicted by violent ways of resolving misunderstandings and conflict".

Such a vision could be realised "if Africans agree to work together in the spirit of pan-Africanism, and manage their human and natural resources responsibly and ethically, together and in partnership with one another and with Nature".

The statement said that the WCC had been addressed on the huge challenges facing Africa. "Half of Africa is at present at war in their own countries and we were vividly reminded of the suffering that continues in Southern Sudan as a result of 50 years of protracted civil war."

Other issues referred to by the statement included globalisation, health and the spread of Aids. "Overarching all else, there is an urgent need to carry forward the process of moral regeneration, a process in which the churches have an important contribution to make, both through the development of a new ecumenical vision with a coherent prophetic voice and the capacity to explore and articulate ecumenical social thinking."

The WCC agreed to place "a special emphasis on Africa during the beginning of the 21st century". It supported wholeheartedly "the commitment, undertaken before God by the leaders and representatives of member churches of Africa at the Assembly," to:

  • Continue to work towards the transformation of systems and institutions and creating "a just society in which women and young people have opportunity for full participation".
  • Seek peace and reconciliation for Africa's peoples and communities.
  • Work towards "appropriate ethical values in work, governance and management, and good stewardship".

  • Do everything within their means to help to contain and to overcome the scourge of Aids.
  • Affirm the right of African children to hope for a bright future that they can help to create.

The WCC urged all member churches "to engage in dialogue with their respective governments and make representations with a view to the governments, the United Nations organisations and other international bodies playing whatever part they can in the process of reconstruction and reconciliation within Africa".

It said that this could be done, for example, through "respect for human rights, the promotion of an alternative economic order, debt relief, reductions in the arms trade, and urgent measures to bring about peace and justice in the Sudan, the Great Lakes region and other areas of conflict in Africa in particular and the world at large".

Contact: John Newbury, WCC Press & Information Officer
Press and Information Office, Harare
Tel: +
E-Mail: WCC media

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 339, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the Assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.