WCC Leader Recognizes “Prophetic Role” of Churches in Korean Unity

Worldwide Faith News (press release)
Aug 27 2004


Full text of the statements and photos available, see below.

“Churches are called to play a prophetic role in the promotion of
justice, peace and reconciliation in both North and South at this
critical point in Korean history,” stated WCC central committee
moderator Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Cilicia)
in Seoul, as the WCC executive committee adopted a declaration
focusing on Korean reunification.

In a public statement on Korea, the executive committee recognized the
risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula, and urged the churches and
the international community to find ways of consolidating efforts for
a peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

It called on churches to “mobilize support” for actions which
reinforced stability, dialogue and exchange in the region, and urged
the lifting of sanctions and the provision of aid to North
Korea. Earlier in the week, the WCC leadership met with South Korean
president Roh Moo-hyu and officials at the South Korean Ministry of

The statement was issued as the WCC executive committee completed its
meeting in Seoul, the first to be held in an Asian country, 24-27
August 2004. The meeting, which also reviewed WCC programmatic
activity and administrative issues, was hosted by the National Council
of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and visits were made during the week to
the WCC member churches in the country.

Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sudan

Commenting on other issues of international concern, the committee
encouraged WCC to work with other civil society groups in support of
the renewed peace initiative in Somalia. The moderator of the WCC
Commission of Churches on International Affairs, Ambassador Betheul
Kiplagat, is leading the peace negotiations in the country.

In a minute on Zimbabwe, the executive urged the Zimbabwean churches
to support efforts towards democratic reform, and agreed to send an
international ecumenical team to the churches there as a sign of
encouragement and solidarity. The country faces serious social
upheaval and politically-motivated violence.

In a statement on the situation in Sudan, the WCC executive committee
deplored the ongoing humanitarian disaster and forced displacement of
civilians in the Darfur region, and urged the African Union and the
United Nations to provide for an international peace-keeping force,
the investigation of war crimes, and the full deployment of
independent observers to monitor the cease-fire and human rights in
the region.

A step towards consensus

The WCC executive committee marked a significant step forward in the
introduction of a consensus model of decision-making in the WCC by
authorizing the necessary changes to WCC rules for the next central
committee. According to Catholicos Aram I, “much more than a change of
procedures, a consensus approach will enable all programmes and
actions of the WCC to be perceived as building fellowship and

The move to consensus was decided after some member churches,
especially the Orthodox churches, expressed disagreement with the
current style of WCC decision-making.

Religions as a source of peace

The committee voiced support for a major international inter-religious
conference to be sponsored by the WCC in June 2005. According to WCC
general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, “the Council seeks to uphold
how religion can be used as a source of peace and justice around the
world, and avoid situations when religion can be a source of

The next meeting of the WCC central committee will be held in Geneva
in February 2005, one year before WCC the ninth assembly in Porto
Alegre, Brazil. During the week, the Korean churches reiterated their
hope that a future WCC assembly will be held in their country.

The full texts of WCC executive committee statements are available at

Photos of the WCC visit to Korea are available at: