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2013/11/1
Distinguished guests and touching dance performance mark the opening plenary of the WCC Assembly in Busan

Reported by Lydia Ma

The opening plenary of the World Council of Churches' 10th Assembly was held at 14:45 on October 30 in the auditorium of BEXCO. Chaired by WCC's General Secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the plenary began with welcome greetings to all participants and heartfelt thanksgiving by Tveit on behalf of the WCC to the Korean host cwommittee and the city of Busan.

Tveit soon gave the floor to the Moderator of the Korean Host Committee, Rev. Dr. Kim Sam Whan, who also welcomed all assembly participants. Kim noted in his address that Asia region is currently being reshaped by economic and cultural challenges and the whole of humanity is also facing many crises as never before, which cannot be resolved by mere human effort. He underscored that churches need to turn to God and to prayer in times of crises such as these face the responsibilities God has placed before the church.

Some notable leaders were also invited to give an address during this opening plenary, including Busan's Mayor Hur Nam Sik, the Ecumencial Patriarch Bartholomew I (through a video address), and Pope Francis (via Cardinal Kurt Koch). All expressed their greetings and best wishes for this assembly, as well as their hopes that the assembly would speak hope into the nations.

Though there were speculations that South Korean President Park Geun-hye would make an appearance, this hope did not materialize. Instead, the South Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won paid a visit to the assembly the following day. After all of these greetings were expressed, WCC Central Committee Moderator Rev. Dr. Walter Altmann declared the official opening of the Busan assembly.

In an effort to highlight the importance of young people at this assembly and their contributions to the WCC, a few youths from various countries around the world were chosen to speak about their hopes and expectations for this assembly. One youth from Korean-Brazilian youth said he hoped the assembly would energize people inside and outside of the church to work for justice and reconciliation and the elimination of all kinds of barriers. Another youth from Fiji said that he hoped the assembly would help people learn to respect the environment as human life depends on it.

The opening plenary then concluded with a passionate and heart-rending dance presentation arranged by the Korean host committee centered around the history of the Korean church and the history of Korea. The presentation included a vivid retelling of the experiences of Koreans during World War II and the Korean War.

When asked about his thoughts on this assembly, PCT General Secretary Lyim Hong-Tiong noted that the WCC was the biggest Christian organization in the world after the Catholic Church. He reminisced that when the PCT first joined the WCC in 1951, PCT leaders were very ecumenical in their understanding of the church. Lyim underscored that the WCC Assembly was a great place for churches to exchange ideas, dialogue, and form partnerships. He wished that Taiwanese churches could watch and learn from the collaboration between churches that he was seeing in the WCC. He also made a point to urge Taiwanese churches to focus on their similarities and common perspectives with one another and work together based on these things instead of focusing on their differences.


資料提供單位/ Sources from:WCC Acciedited Media

 

 

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