By Maggie Breen
This assembly has seen the introduction of a new statement concerning mission and evangelism. There seems to be something of a struggle within the Christian world, at least as it is presented here in Busan, between interpretations of mission and evangelism. There is a powerful interpretation that seems more focused on the idea of taking God to those who do not yet know Christ, while the other talks more overtly about uncovering where God is already at work and joining in.
The conversations are more complex than I have presented here and it is exciting, although sometimes difficult, to be part of the struggle to uncover the meaning in what others say, the values they hold and the spaces where there are intersections. Seems to me that as difficult as this can be it is
the only way to community and shared witness.
By Maggie Breen
I have been in Korea for 10 days now, gathered with students and young pastors from 60 different countries. We have spent much of the first half of this gathering listening to the stories of this country. We are in a beautiful and complex land, one that has over the last
century been colonized by outside forces and whose people have been under the power of external and internal oppressors. Yet those we have met remain a beautiful and generous people - eager to share their stories and find peace.
By Maggie Breen
It was opening day today of the 10th assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, Korea. Delegates from 345 member churches together with ecumenical partners gather at this, the highest decision-making body of the World Council. Around 5,000 filled the worship space today and worshiped together the One who unites us. We heard the confession of each continent. From North America:
By Maggie Breen
It's a Greek word (pronounced oy-koo-men-ay) and it's part of the vocabulary around here. This theological institute I get to be a part of is made up of 220 students and faculty from every continent and a myriad of denominations who have come together in the name of oikoumene. Oikoumene means the whole household of God and it brings with it a claim that we are one -- that we belong to each other because of who we are as God's own. On our first day of worship together our preacher told us that while oikoumene is a reality -- we belong to each other just because of who God is -- and while it is a given, a gift, it is also, however, a call. He reminded us that so much of what we do does not embody this unity that is a gift of God and that we are called to find ways to live as a people of diverse and rich gifts and also united. What caught me especially was his claim that oikoumene is impossible without friendship and personal relationship.
by Maggie Breen
Early on Thursday, October 24, I will fly to the Republic of Korea to participate in the Global Ecumenical Theological
Institute (GETI). The institute takes place in Seoul and Busan from October 25 to November 9, 2013, alongside the World Council of Churches' 10th Assembly. It brings together 150 younger (under 45!) advanced theology students from all regions of the world and all Christian denominational traditions to be with dedicated faculty and leaders in the ecumenical movement. The group will study and help each other think more deeply about the theme "the future of ecumenism and the transformation of World Christianity in the 21st century.”
What a joy and gift it will be to be able to engage the ideas and understanding of colleagues from around the world. The small group to which I have been assigned has participants from Botswana, Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia, Finland, Romania, Grenada and the US. We will engage in bible study and prayer together, and we will hear lectures
from and be in conversation with professors who have dedicated their careers to the study of ecumenism, its call and implications.
As someone immersed in grassroots ecumenism, working with churches on a local level as we move towards deeper understanding and as we seek to be a community that loves and cares for the world in the name of this one who unites us, I will be listening carefully
and asking questions of the business of the assembly. I will be paying close attention to how the conversations at this macro level speak to and can be informed by the local experience. In this hinge period, with our culture shifting in significant ways, and with our communities hungering for places of belonging and peace, how can the ecumenical church point to God’s faithful action amongst us? And how can we lead in the ways of justice and peace?
I am so very thankful for this opportunity, for the support of my church, and of my school, Seattle University. I will be blogging here as I go – hopefully providing a glimpse of some of the things I am seeing and hearing, what we are uncovering together and what it looks like when God’s people come together on such a grand scale to dialogue and worship. I would ask your prayer for God’s leading and for a spirit of openness, vulnerability and
courage that I might bring my whole heart to this gathering.
Chuck Sigars is currently an elder at St. Andrew and a newspaper columnist and author.