World Council of Churches Office of Communication|
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CENTRAL COMMITTEE 1999 No. 11
WCC DISCUSSES FUTURE OF RELIGION
At a "padare" (a Shona word meaning a place for exchanging ideas) held in Geneva, 27 August 1999, the over 35 participants had different views and ideas on the topic. While some took it for granted that the discussion was about the future of Christianity, others thought it could have been better to deal with a direct agenda, for there are many religions in the world.
Introducing the topic for discussion, however, the moderator of the padare, Bishop Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus of Mar Thoma Syrian church of Malabar, described the future of the world as difficult because of the negative roles played by some religious leaders who participate in creating conflict among people.
He also attributed the difficulties facing Christianity to technological development, particularly in the area of communication. He said today's media advancement is what gave birth to secularism and the tension between the church and some members of the community spoiled by the wrong and contradictory ideas they learn from hostile and unethical media.
Since religion does not seek the destruction of human lives, the time has come for the leaders of different religions in the world to cooperate and work together for the benefit of all, he said.
Following the introduction of the topic, the first presenter, Bishop Fredrico Pagura of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina, said tomorrow's world will not be an easy one for Christianity in Latin America. He said the church will face difficulties as people move to godlessness/secularism and religious fundamentalism. Unless all religious people of the different religions in the world forget their differences and move towards the practice of "macro-ecumenism" as they go back to the origin of religions as children of God and true members of the Abrahamic family, there will always be problems, he said.
Dr Marion Best of the United Church of Canada, who made her contribution by reflecting on the growth of the Church in Canada, was optimistic about the future. She said the high participation of Canadian youth in church work is an indication that ideologies have failed and that youth are beginning to seek satisfaction and the truth that can set them free.
In response to the different presentations made by the main speakers, participants affirmed that the conflict between religion and secularism is due to the fact that religion seeks the common good of the people while secularism is private and individualistic in nature.
But in spite of the unbridged rifts between religions and the many difficulties outlined above, one of the WCC Central Committee members urged the padare participants to remain hopeful, for the problems facing the church today might have been planned by God to enable the church to review its work, so as to better face today's challenges and responsibilities.
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.