Churches in Nigeria fill with music, dancing, and prayer as WCC visits

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was among the Nigerian denominations whose congregations received visits during a recent meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee in Abuja, Nigeria. Members of the WCC executive committee visited an array of congregations on Sunday, Nov. 12, “bringing a deep spiritual aspect to their gathering,” said a WCC release.

The WCC executive committee meeting took place in Nigeria’s capital city on Nov. 8-14. In addition to an EYN congregation, the churches receiving visits included the First African Church Mission, Methodist Church Nigeria, Nigeria Baptist Convention, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Reformed Church of Christ for Nations, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide, and the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria.

WCC moderator Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said his heart was touched by the people he met and stories he heard in churches. “In many ways it is a wonderful country with wonderful people,” he said, in a release, adding that people’s stories of attacks on Christian congregations were painfully sad. “The tears of a woman who told us about such an attack on a congregation and the murders she had to witness are still fresh on my mind,” said Bedford-Strohm. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. If there’s any consolation in the face of so much violence, it is this firm trust that, in the end, there will be peace.”

The World Council of Churches executive committee met in Abuja, Nigeria. Photo by WCC

Interfaith meetings also were part of the event. On Nov. 15, the executive committee visited the Sultan of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, who as Sultan of Sokoto is considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s 100 million Muslims. They also met with the board members of the International Center for Interfaith Peace and Harmony, established in 2012 by the WCC, local churches, and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan.

In other news coming out of the WCC executive committee meeting in Nigeria:

The WCC’s focus on some of the world’s most serious challenges, and how the WCC brings hope, was the focus of a closing press conference in Abuja on Nov. 14. Among others who spoke, vice moderator Vicken Aykazian, an archbishop in the Armenian Orthodox tradition, expressed deep appreciation for the WCC’s statement on the need for international response to the needs of Nagorno-Karabakh refugees.

“Why the World Council of Churches?” he asked. “Because the World Council of Churches is an important organization in the world that tries to find a solution for those people who are suffering. We thank God for this organization and we thank the leadership of the World Council of Churches for following, and continuing to follow, what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Find the statement at www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/statement-on-the-consequences-of-the-conflict-in-nagorno-karabakh.

Jerry Pillay, WCC general secretary, spoke about the executive committee’s statement on Palestine and Israel. “We work on a very broad scale of interreligious cooperation and collaboration in the field of peace efforts,” he said. “Since the attack of Hamas on Israel on 7 October, there has been continued retaliation by Israel, and so the situation in the Gaza is really, really bad. We have called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Our view as the WCC is that violence and wars do not contribute to peaceful negotiations.” Find the statement, which demands an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors in Palestine and Israel, at www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/statement-on-the-war-in-palestine-and-israel.

A statement called on the COP28 to “rise above” and act collectively in addressing climate change. COP28, the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is coming up on Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in the United Arab Emirates. “At this time of climate emergency, it is essential that COP28 courageously addresses the fossil fuel industry and their responsibility towards people and planet,” read the statement, in part. “COP28 is pivotal for the future of the living planet, our common home, and for our children and future generations.” Find the statement at www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/statement-on-cop28s-responsibility-for-climate-justice.

Find a recap of the meeting at https://www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-executive-committee-recap-with-focus-on-some-of-the-worlds-most-serious-challenges-and-how-the-wcc-brings-hope.


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