Swenson elected vice moderator as WCC event ends

By Gladys Mangiduyos*

As the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly drew to a close Nov. 8, the new 150-member Central Committee was commissioned.

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, was elected vice moderator along with Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox).

They will work with the first woman and the first African to be elected moderator for the central committee, Agnes Abuom of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

As the WCC’s governing body, the committee’s primary responsibilities are to carry out the vision and policies of the assembly and provide strategic leadership and directions in addressing a wide range of issues that emerged in statements, resolutions and minutes. Other United Methodists on the new central committee are Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck and Cynthia Kent, chairwoman of the United Methodist Native American International Caucus and a member of the Southern Ute tribe.

Those issues include religious minorities, indigenous peoples, just peace, climate justice, a nuclear-free world and the situations in the Middle East, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Korean Peninsula, South Sudan and Cuba.

The event, which convened Oct. 30, drew 2,665 registered participants representing 141 countries and the Vatican as well as an estimated 4,600 Korean church members as day visitors.

“Join the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” the message of the 10th assembly, affirmed its solidarity with those in the Korean peninsula and all working for justice and peace. “We share our experience of the search for unity in Korea as a sign of hope in the world,” the message said. “This is not the only land where people live divided, in poverty and richness, happiness and violence, welfare and war.”

The new members met immediately after the assembly’s closing prayers, where they were commissioned.

“We commend our sisters and brothers to your constant love and guidance, fill them with grace, strength, peace, and wisdom…may they have passion to work for justice, peace and unity,” the assembly prayed. “Grant them the faith to act with conviction.”

The WCC, founded in 1948, works for Christian unity and an ecumenical focus on service in a range of areas. At the end of 2012 it had 345 member churches, representing more than 500 million Christians.

*Mangiduyos, a deaconess in the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference, is a UMNS correspondent at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea. News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

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