"AN ASSEMBLY that will surely leave a mark on the ecumenical
movement" - this is the prediction of the General Secretary of the
World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, for its tenth
Assembly in Busan, South Korea, from 30 October to 9 November.
Already, delegates and hundreds of Christians from around the world
are travelling to Busan, praying the Assembly's theme: "God of
Life: lead us to justice and peace."
There could hardly be a more urgent theme in today's world.
Issues will focus on justice for all: economic, gender, and
eco-justice. On the theme of peace, the focus will surely be the
Middle East - Syria, Egypt, and Israel/Palestine; the Democratic
Republic of Congo; Pakistan; Nigeria. Also, because of the location
of the assembly, North and South Korea will never be far from the
We shall see the fellowship of Churches turned outwards,
thinking of their service together in a world where injustice is
rife, and peace is shattered daily by war and threats of war - even
The concern that lies at the heart of the fellowship of Churches
is that the Churches should call one another to visible unity in
one faith, eucharistic fellowship service, and mission. So there
will be a concern for the inextricable relation of the unity of the
Church, the unity of the human community, and the unity of all
An assembly is a time when official delegates review the work of
the past years, and plan for the years ahead. But it is so much
more than that. Thematic plenaries will explore issues of justice
and peace, the Korean context, and how we understand unity.
Twenty-one ecumenical conversations will reflect on many aspects of
the one ecumenical movement.
Above all, an assembly is a time to pray together. It is these
times of prayer that, for most delegates, are the most
transformative and lasting experience.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will greet the Assembly and speak
in two of the ecumenical conversations. It will be a time when
Anglicans from around the Communion can meet Archbishop Welby, can
get to know one another and the concerns across our Anglican
Communion, and can view our concerns in the perspective of the most
representative Christian gathering.
Accompany us in prayer, and pray with us: "God of Life, lead us
to justice and peace." When the Assembly is over, I wonder whether
readers of the Church Times will see signs that the
ecumenical winter is blossoming into an ecumenical spring.
Dame Mary Tanner is the WCC president for Europe.