World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
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29 January - 6 February 2001
Potsdam, Germany

6 February 2001RE

Will the WCC assembly be reduced to a "talking shop"?

Should the World Council of Churches' (WCC) assembly be a legislative and deliberative body whose meetings include fellowship and worship, or just a deliberative body thus reducing it to a "talking shop"?

This was one of the questions posed by the Policy Reference Committee III in its report presented on February 5 to the WCC Central Committee, meeting in Potsdam, Germany, from January 29 to February 6.

In presenting the report, Bishop Eberhardt Renz (Evangelical Church in Germany), moderator of the Policy Reference Committee, referred to the question of how the Central Committee members might be chosen. Several options are being discussed.

The Central Committee welcomed the steps taken for a process of reflection on these questions within the framework of the WCC governing structures. It also asked that these reflections be developed in a coordinated manner for presentation at the next Central Committee meeting.

The Central Committee welcomed the intiatives for a Forum of Christian and Ecumenical Organizations and stressed the need for the WCC to engage in dialogue with non-member churches "where previously there had been a degree of distrust."

It also welcomed the establishment of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and accepted HIV/AIDS, and Globalization and World Trade as its focus for the coming years.

The reports of the WCC moderator and the general secretary were accepted with appreciation and commended to member churches for further reflection and study.

The Central Committee meets every 15 to 18 months between the assemblies, which are normally held every seven years.

Photos from the Central Committee

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, 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.