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World Council of Churches Essay

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World Council of Churches

Introduction

The World Council of Churches (WCC) serves as an umbrella organization for nearly 350 Orthodox Protestant churches from 110 countries worldwide. The WCC was established in 1948 with the sole aim to advance Christian unity towards the creation of a single Eucharistic fellowship amongst Christians (Gill, 2005). This paper seeks to provide an overview of the structure of the World Council of Churches, its processes, duties as well as an evaluation and critic of the organization.

Structure, processes and duties of the WCC

The WCC which is a fellowship of member churches defines its other duties as being enshrined in its efforts propagate a universal Christian witness towards issues facing humanity. To achieve this end, the WCC continues to promote for world peace (Gill, 2005). Historically, this organization has played an active role in championing the cause for nuclear disarmament, religious freedom and women’s rights. More recently, it has endeavored to champion for the protection of the environmental and has actively participated in the climate change debate by calling for the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources as well as environmental conservation. This organization continuously voices its concerns over conflicts happening in various parts of the world with an aim to bringing an end to human suffering.

The WCC has a definite organizational structure which comprises of the WCC Assembly, A Central Committee and an Executive Committee (Gill, 2005). The WCC Assembly holds meetings after every seven years while its’ Central Committee holds meetings after one to one and a half years. The Executive Committee holds meetings twice each year.

When voicing concerns affecting humanity, organs of the WCC tend to heavily rely on reports sourced from its staff station in Geneva, Switzerland as well as other institutions affiliated to WCC such as the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) (Gill, 2005).

An evaluation and critic of the WCC

When addressing world issues affecting humanity, reports generated by the staff at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva are used as primary sources. In addition, the WCC has other institutions to support its cause which produce publication and statements based on Christian religious studies, interfaith relations as well as international relations establishing the framework of organization’s position on global issues (Pratt, 2012). It is common practice for the WCC staff members to use their high social status to influence world opinion. For instance, the organization’s Secretary General regularly voices his opinions with regard to the different issues affecting the world at any given time on a regular basis. Reports on the WCC’s stand on international issues are regularly circulated among member churches.

The WCC as a faith based organization

The WCC shares a number of features with other nongovernmental organizations and as such are influenced by similar social, political and economic factors (Ferris, 2005). Faith based organizations however tend to differ from secular organizations in that they have objectives that surpass humanitarian concerns and the fact that religious convictions motivate its humanitarian efforts.

Traditionally, Christian missionaries though often blamed for complicity towards colonialism in the early 19th and 20th Centuries left a lasting legacy with regard to its social work (Sharkey, 2013). This evident in many parts of the world more so in relation to investments in the provision of health services and education.

The WCC prides itself in its activities in the Third World countries as well as among marginalized or disadvantaged societies in the developed world. It is worth noting that other faith based organizations from Jewish or Islamic backgrounds tend to concentrate humanitarian efforts towards communities with similar religious affiliations (Ferris, 2005). The WWC offer humanitarian assistance regardless of religious backgrounds.

However, there are deep divisions among members of the WCC more so among Catholic and Protestant organizations based on their traditional foundations and the contemporary Christian organizations. These two groups differ on whether evangelical ministries should be distinct from humanitarian assistance or evangelical ministries should incorporate human assistance as an integral part of missionary activities (Ferris, 2005). Traditionalist Christian organizations define missionary activity as incorporating humanitarian efforts while some new Christian organizations seek to distinguish evangelical work from humanitarian work. As such, traditional Christian organizations are viewed as respecting the religious affiliations of communities where they offer humanitarian assistance. On the other hand, religious organizations under the WCC banner which do not distinguish evangelical ministries from humanitarian aid tend attract repercussions that affect the overall image of the WCC (Pratt, 2010).

WCC’s peace initiatives

The WCC is deeply concerned with various peace initiatives the world over. A prevailing global challenge as envisaged by the organization is global peace (Raiser, 2012). Socio-economic status, caste, race, gender and religion challenge lasting peace. Violence and abuse is prevalent in home as well as in social institutions such as schools. It is common to hear of incidences where women and children suffer abuse and violence either psychologically, physically or culturally. Self destruction among societies is rife as suicide and substance abuse incidences continue to increase. The WCC believes that it’s within its mandate to push the world towards concrete initiatives aimed at fostering lasting peace.

The WCC attempts to achieve this end by promoting cooperation and learning from the experiences of other and by so doing nurture a culture of peace (Raiser, 2012). The WCC thorough its many umbrella bodies involves its members, their families, Christian parishes and communities in which it operates to actively promote a culture of peace.

The WCC as an umbrella organization under which nearly 350 Orthodox Protestant churches from 110 countries worldwide operate encourages learning towards the prevention and resolution of conflicts and more so transform the social positions of these communities (Pratt, 2012). The WCC thus promotes the protection and empowerment of communities deemed as either marginalized or disadvantaged. Pro-actively asserts the role women play in conflict resolution initiatives and programs (Bauer, 2012). In peace building and more so underscores for the inclusion of women in similar initiatives. The WCC also supports participation of its members towards peaceful movements promoting universal human rights and justice. The WCC also promotes peace education through member churches and in schools.

The WCC therefore realizes that to achieve a culture of peace for the betterment of all humanity, children and women should be protected from all forms of violence (Raiser, 2012). These include protection from armed conflict, sexual violence and the nonproliferation of deadly weapons. Communities should be rid of such weapons and more so domestic violence issues should be addressed critically with the sole aim of putting an end to such situations.

Conclusion

The WCC as an international body has the capacity to marshal support from the masses to push world leaders to address issues affecting the peaceful development of man. As much as it encounters challenges in its organizational structure and conflict with other religious faiths and secular ideals, this organization is well placed to advocate for a culture of peace. The WCC should therefore concentrate its efforts towards reaching a wider audience in the global arena so as to achieve it ends. This can be effectively realized by creating distinct offices to handle humanitarian efforts and the affairs of evangelistic ministries so as to minimize conflict of interests.

 

References

Bauer, K. (2012). Many Women Were Also There: The Participation of Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement by Eleni Kasselouri‐Hatzivassiliadi, Fulata Mbano Moyo, Aikaterini Pekridou. Geneva: World Council of Churches Publications, 2010. The Ecumenical Review, 64(3), 416-419.

Ferris, E. (2005). Faith-based and secular humanitarian organizations. International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 87 Number 858 June 2005 .

Gill, T. A. (2011). World Council of Churches. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.

Pratt, D. (2010). The church and other faiths: The World Council of Churches, the Vatican, and interreligious dialogue (Vol. 906). Bern: Peter Lang.

Pratt, D. (2012). World Council of Churches. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization.

Raiser, K. (2012). Just Peace Companion. Geneva: WCC Publications

Sharkey, H. J. (2013). American evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an age of empire. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

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