THE Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the international
Church to renew its "commitment to the ecumenical journey" at the
tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) at Busan, in
Archbishop Welby spoke of his "tiny place among God's great
Church", but said that his presence at the assembly in Busan was a
sign of how important the fellowship was to Anglicans.
"We cannot be satisfied while there is a lack of visible unity,"
he said. "If we are satisfied, we defy the great high-priestly
prayer of Christ himself."
Christians must seek peace and reconciliation, Archbishop Welby
said - first between themselves and God, and then in unity with
"We are to be one because we are more effective together than
apart," he said. "We are to be one - one people worshipping one
God, eating and drinking round the one table of the Lord; for that
is Jesus's prayer for his disciples, then and for us now."
Archbishop Welby spoke at the assembly as part of a five-day
tour of South Korea which included a pilgrimage to the Imjingak
Peace Park, close to the border with North Korea, where the
Archbishop and others prayed for peace in the Korean Peninsula.
In an interview with Vatican Radio while he was in Busan,
Archbishop Welby said that a longing to unite the worldwide Church
was the work of the Holy Spirit. "No sacrifice is too great to be
obedient to the call of Christ that we may be one," he said; but
there were many doctrinal differences between the Churches which
still needed to be worked on.
The theme of the WCC assembly was "God of life, lead us to
justice and peace". Dr Wedad Abbas Tawfik of the Coptic Orthodox
Church of Alexandria in Egypt asked delegates to pray for peace in
her nation, but said that the Coptic Church had continued to be a
witness to God despite violent persecution.
In a session on mission, the Revd Dr Stephen Bevans, a Roman
Catholic priest from the US congregation of the Society of the
Divine Word, quoted the former Archbishop of Caterbury Lord
Williams: "Mission is finding out where the Spirit at work, and
Busan puts on an impressive show
Cally Hammond enjoys her WCC committee
THE WCC as a life-experience almost defies description. There
are thousands of us, meeting and mingling everywhere - in various
hotels, in the huge conference centre, in worship, and over
The daily Bible studies and ecumenical conversations give
delegates a chance to talk about their beliefs, and to listen to
the wisdom of other traditions. The call to "get into small groups
for discussion" was worth it to hear how different the Bible seems,
depending on how we read it.
For me, there are three highlights so far: the evening meeting
of Anglicans, hosted by the Bishop of Busan, the Rt Revd Onesimus
Dongsin Park, at a hotel. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at
a eucharist for All Saints'; and the large congregation were all
seated around circular tables throughout the room. As we began to
filter up for communion, at a nod from the head waiter, the staff
began doing the rounds of our tables, weaving in and out between
the lines of communicants to set out glasses, and fill them with
wine. This was both hilarious and rather wonderful, as it tied
together the two kinds of meal in which we were sharing. Surely
Jesus would have appreciated that.
Second, the worship at the Anglican Cathedral in Busan. With an
excellent choir to lead us (pictured, below), we belted
out old High Church Anglican favourites such as "Faith of our
fathers" in English and Korean. The service depended on faultless
team-work from Bishop Park (as celebrant), and the Bishop of
Connor, in Northern Ireland, the Rt Revd Alan Aberneth, who
preached; both were assisted by a translator.
The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, gave
the blessing. In one respect, it was rather like a wedding - the
photos seemed to take longer than the service.
And, last, my third highlight is the committee work. I have
never said this about a committee before. I will probably never do
so again. But the one on which I served was something special, and,
in the end, gloriously positive. The 25 committee members (all from
different nations and denominations) had a horrible task: to
whittle down a long list of names and choose 150 people for the
central committee that would begin to plan the next WCC (to take
place in eight years' time).
The objective - to get the perfect result for every country,
every Church, and every interest group - was impossible. Yet four
days of meetings eventually bore fruit. When we finally reached our
goal there was an outburst of joy - and (inevitably) more
Dr Hammond is a C of E representative at the WCC.