Marking the beginning of a new period for ecumenical bodies during Epiphany Season 2007, the head of the World Council of Churches hopes member bodies will discover strength in unity.
"It is together that we find our place in the world," WCC general secretary the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia told member churches and ecumenical partners in a message outlining priorities for the years ahead.
"Our calling is to be a people who seek and serve Christ together, to be churches alive in the promise of God’s world-transforming love,” said Kobia.
The message invites members to participate in plans for the next six years until 2013, the period until the next Assembly.
“[Ecumenists] stake our future on churches experiencing Christ together and daring to live for God in the world,” Kobia stated. “This fresh appreciation of our Christian identity is developing not in a vacuum but through engagement with, and at times confronting, the world.”
Such engagement with the world, he further indicated, requires new and healthier relationships within religious and secular circles.
Churches must respond to many global challenges, Kobia said, including the areas of human rights, care for the earth and its climate, and overcoming violence.
"Churches in many places will have to find new ways of witness in the world. We will have to pray for unity and seek it, perhaps especially in working for justice and reconciliation, and in developing inter-religious partnerships for joint action on difficult issues," Kobia suggested.
He outlined six new programs for the WCC secretariat "as the global instrument of this fellowship." They include “Ecumenism in the 21st Century does ground work for the ecumenical movement of tomorrow; Unity, Mission, Evangelism and Spirituality is about churches becoming the church for today; and Public Witness addresses structural violence, inequality and the unjust distribution of wealth, seeks accountability from those in power, provides a platform for promoting peace in the Middle East, and sets the profile of the WCC in international affairs.
"While much in our world pulls us apart, the opportunities to find strength in unity today may be greater than ever before," the general secretary highlighted.
"Life is given to us not for domination or self-centeredness, but for sharing, thankfulness, conviviality and joy,” he stated. "We are to find our place in the world together, as believers in God and as churches for the world.”