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Churches must be "salt of the earth"

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  • SOCM News Bureau
    CHURCHES MUST BE SALT OF THE EARTH How does the church interact with a rapidly changing society? On 31 August, members of the World Council of Churches
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2009
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      CHURCHES MUST BE "SALT OF THE EARTH"

      How does the church interact with a rapidly changing society? On
      31 August, members of the World Council of Churches central
      committee spent much of the morning discussing this question in a
      pair of plenary sessions in Geneva.

      The discussion marked 30 years since the landmark Church and
      Society Conference on Faith, Science and the Future took place in
      the United States, but Dr Mary Tanner, WCC president from Europe,
      said the topic remains highly relevant for today.

      �We should not just look at it as a relic from the past,� said
      Tanner, who moderated the plenary, �but see how (it) remains a
      living, dynamic tradition in today�s ecumenical movement.�

      She said �living the fellowship� of churches today begins with
      listening to one another�s stories and supporting one another. In
      that spirit, she invited several speakers to share �a tapestry of
      poignant stories� of struggle within their communities.

      For example, Rev. Geraldine Varea of the Methodist Church in
      Fiji and Rotuma talked about a military coup in her country, and
      tensions that resulted between the government and the church.
      Through the help of several WCC churches and other members of the
      Pacific Council of Churches, some dialogue and reconciliation
      were able to begin.

      �They have given new light to the issue,� said Varea, who at 26
      is the youngest minister in her church.

      Likewise, Metropolitan Mor Eustathius Matta Roham of the Syrian
      Orthodox Churches of Antioch and All the East said the churches
      can assist his region by helping people �hear and understand the
      voices of suffering in the region�. The Middle East, he said, has
      had to deal with both the instability caused by the ongoing
      Arab/Israeli conflict as well as climate change, which has
      sparked both floods and sandstorms.

      Two speakers shared stories from the Democratic Republic of
      Congo and other parts of Africa�s Great Lakes region. Civil wars,
      large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons,
      violence against women and children and other issues have caused
      an ongoing crisis.

      Rev. Micheline Kamba Kasongo of the Church of Christ in
      Congo-Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa compared her hopes for
      the situation to the book of Esther, who had to �risk to do
      something for her people�.

      �We want to find our Esthers, those who are prepared to stand up
      against evil,� she said. �I believe the church always has the
      possibility of intervening to change things.�

      Delegates also watched a video message from Father Miguel
      d�Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, a Catholic priest who served
      as president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2008-2009.
      A veteran statesman in his home country, d�Escoto has been active
      in helping the poor.

      �The world is in desperate need of prophetic voices� d�Escoto
      said in the video. �Are we being the salt of the earth as we
      should be?�

      Many other stories from around the globe were gathered from WCC
      members before the plenary and posted on the WCC website,
      www.oikoumene.org/cc2009. WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel
      Kobia said it was the biggest response the WCC had received from
      central committee members on any item in more than a decade.

      �Our public witness clearly needs to be rooted in the
      experiences of the churches in society,� Kobia said. �We can very
      well be the pulse of society as the church.� Kobia named �mutual
      learning through deep listening�, accompanying one another, and
      mutual support and solidarity as �key elements� for the
      fellowship of churches.

      Fernando Enns of the Mennonite Church in Germany, in comments
      following the stories, emphasized the importance of the topic in
      the ongoing life of the organization.

      The interaction of church and society, he said, looks �not just
      at a ministry of the church, but what the church itself is. We�re
      discussing the essence of ecclesiology here. We need to reflect
      on who we are as churches, and who we are as churches together.�

      Free high resolution photos are available:

      http://www.oikoumene.org/en/events-sections/cc2009/photo-galleries.html

      More information on the 26 August - 2 September 2009 Central
      Committee meeting:
      http://www.oikoumene.org/cc2009

      Additional information:Juan Michel, +41 22 791 6153 +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@...

      Soure: http://www.wfn.org/2009/08/msg00555.html
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