Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter attended World Council of Churches (WCC) biennial meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, June 15-21. He is the Church of the Brethren representative to the WCC Central Committee, a group of 150 people who represent nearly 40 percent of the WCC’s 348 member churches.
A highlight was a day-long visit from Pope Francis I on June 21, which included a prayer service, time with students at the Ecumenical Institute, and an exchange of messages with WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and central committee moderator Agnes Abuom.
“The Pope’s visit to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches is a visible sign and symbol of the church’s yearning for unity and the growing cooperation between Christians throughout the world,” Carter said.
“In the morning worship, Pope Francis stressed our relationship as companions on the pilgrimage of justice and peace. In the afternoon he stressed the evangelical nature of our witness related to unity: ‘Christians do not witness to the gospel when we are divided.’"
Carter added, “Personally it was an uplifting experience to have Pope Francis travel to Geneva to share in the morning prayer service and afternoon lectures.” He also noted the significance of the Pope’s visit for the Church of the Brethren “as a charter member of the World Council of Churches and more importantly, a partner known for service to those most in need.”
“Pope Francis’ visit is an encouragement to all Christians who seek collaboration and partnership in service to the Gospel which calls us to live lives of compassion, grace, and peace.”
This year’s central committee meetings also celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WCC. Business items included a mid-term review of WCC programs, planning the next WCC assembly in 2021, monitoring the ongoing work of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, updates on development plans for WCC property, receiving a new landmark study on ecumenical “diakonia” (service to the disadvantaged), and addressing a variety of public issues.
Read the Bethany release on Carter’s participation in the WCC meetings at https://bethanyseminary.edu/president-attends-wcc-meeting . Find out more about the meeting agenda at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wccs-central-committee-set-for-packed-agenda-on-unity-justice-and-peace .