The 56th meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission of the Churches on International Affairs took place in Bali, Indonesia, on 24 – 28 February, discussing many of the most critical concerns of churches in the region and around the world.
The WCC is an ecumenical partner supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment, which enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations.
"Following the ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, our focus on the Asian region this year, has brought fresh perspectives to our work, including issues of racial justice", said Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. "We have also, I hope, brought the WCC's work on international affairs closer to the churches of Indonesia through our visit and meeting here."
The meeting followed the WCC Pilgrim Team visit to the Java and Papua regions of Indonesia, where an ecumenical delegation met with local communities, church leaders, victims of human rights violations and local government representatives.
"We have survived thanks to the church only", local community members told the ecumenical delegation during the visit to Papua, a region where access for international organizations or media has generally been severely restricted. The situation of the communities and churches in Papua has long been a concern also of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI).
"Many of human rights violations are based in a deeply rooted racism", commission vice-moderator Emily Welty said in a debrief session on the Pilgrim Team Visit, adding that Papuans have often been considered as "less than humans".
In a 'spotlight session' on racial justice, commission members agreed that racism is a social construct, and a denial of God's plan according to which all people are created in God's image.
In another 'spotlight session' climate change is increasingly recognized as one of main global risks threatening the future. Statistics of increased pollution and deforestation, limiting nature's capacity to absorb carbon emissions, were explored on environmental and economic justice.
Statistics around the world show economic growth in majority of countries, but the increase in production and consumption "does not show the widening inequalities taking place in the world", commission member and economist Lukasz Nazarko said during the spotlight session. "Churches have much more to say than scientists or economists on greed and selfishness, the main drivers of economic injustice in the world".
The WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs advises WCC leadership on critical situations in the world and on opportunities to support initiatives for peacemaking and justice, helping churches to shape a coherent ecumenical response to these challenges.
World Council of Churches website
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment at 100 percent.