Assembly elects new WCC presidents

04 November 2013

The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches elected eight new presidents today during a closed session at its proceedings in Busan, Republic of Korea.

According to the WCC constitution the role of the WCC presidents is to promote ecumenism and interpret the work of the WCC, especially in their respective regions. The presidents are ex-officio members of Central Committee.

The Central Committee will also be elected during the assembly, but after the presidents are elected.

The eight WCC presidents are:

Africa:  Rev. Dr Mary Anne Plaatjies van Huffel, Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa

Asia: Rev. Prof. Dr Sang Chang, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea

Europe: Archbishop Anders Wejryd, Church of Sweden

Latin America and Caribbean:  Rev. Gloria Nohemy Ulloa Alvarado, Presbyterian Church in Colombia

North America: Bishop Mark MacDonald, Anglican Church of Canada

Pacific: Rev. Dr Mele’ana Puloka, Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga

Eastern Orthodox:  H.B. John X Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East

Oriental Orthodox: H.H. Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians

WCC General Secretary: military actions cannot bring peace in Syria

While condemning all use of chemical weapons in Syria, the WCC general secretary said that “we must do everything possible to starve the fire of war rather than feeding it with further deadly armaments.”

In an open letter to the United Nations Security Council issued on 4 September, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed profound concern at the current situation in Syria. His message came following discussions with the church leaders in Amman, Jordan, where he is participating in a conference on “Challenges facing Arab Christians” on invitation of H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad.

Talk by Professor Amy-Jill Levine

Professor Amy-Jill Levine will give a talk on “Jesus, Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, 50 Berkeley Crescent, Floreat on Monday 19th August from 7.30 – 9.00 pm. Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences.

Lutheran commissioned as 8th President of the National Council of Churches

lca-mikeThe Reverend Dr Mike Semmler from the LutheranChurch in Australia was commissioned as the President of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) last week. The service took place on Sunday 7th July, in St Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, East Melbourne. Dr Semmler is the 8th President of the NCCA, following Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville. Dr Semmler has been the National President of the LutheranChurch for the past 13 years as he enters retirement in his own church he embraces the leadership of the NCCA with great enthusiasm.

The purpose of the Council is to promote Christian unity and help the Churches work together on key issues of theology, peace, and justice. The 8th Forum unanimously elected Dr Semmler in Melbourne last week. Dr Semmler is a long time supporter of the ecumenical movement having been a member of the NCCA Executive for 13 years.

Elected as the President for a three year term, Dr Semmler will work with member and observer Churches, chair the meetings of the Council, and represent it in a number of public settings.

The Rev’d Tara Curlewis, NCCA General Secretary, said “The churches have warmly welcomed Mike and we look forward to his leadership. I look forward to working alongside Mike as we embrace the directions identified at the 8th Forum.

Currently the Council has a total membership of 19 national Churches, including the Anglican, Catholic and UnitingChurches, 9 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, a range of ProtestantChurches, the Salvation Army, and the Quakers.

Introducing Frances Hadfield, Ecumenical Ministry Officer

The Council of Churches of Western Australia is delighted to announce the appointment of the Reverend Frances Hadfield as Ecumenical Ministry Officer. Frances fills this part-time position in addition to her role as Chaplaincy Co-ordinator at Bandyup Women’s Prison

Frances is a Uniting Church minister and has considerable experience in ecumenical affairs. She looks forward to promoting the work of churches together throughout Western Australia.

Prayers for Syria

Prayers continue for the safety, well-being and release of Archbishops Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, and Boulos Yazaji Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, abducted by persons unknown on April 22nd.

An invitation to join in an Act of Consecration of Syria by Maronite Archbishop Nassar of Syria has also been received:

Would you please join in praying with Archbishop Nassar of Syria – the Act of Consecration of Syria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which he will make at 6pm (Syrian Time) on August 15th 2012 – Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven. Wherever you are in the world on that day at 6pm – or when you can – please join in this consecration in support of the Archbishop. (click here)




Uniting Church Resources Reconciliation Week

Week of Prayer for Reconciliation Resources

Week of Prayer for Reconciliation 27 May – 3 June

We are encouraging Church members to reflect on the reconciliation process during the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation (which in 1993 was widened to also become National Reconciliation Week).

This year, the theme for National Reconciliation Week is “Let’s Talk Recognition”,  topical as the start of public consultation process towards a referendum on recognising Indigenous people in the Australian Constitution begins. The Uniting Church has taken its own journey to a new Preamble of our Constitution which acknowledges Aboriginal and Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia.

Download these resources:

What is reconciliation?

Covenanting and the Uniting Church in Australia

What can you do?


You might also like to use the resources produced by the Covenanting Coordinator and Committee of the South Australian Synod. You can find them here.

One month on – the abduction of our two Archbishops

From the office of Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo via the Global Christian Forum

One month lapsed and we are still living the nightmare of the abduction whereabouts our two Archbishops Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, and Boulos Yazaji Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, were kidnapped on the 22nd of April 2013. An unknown group has abducted them without claiming its responsibility until now, neither announcing the reasons for the abduction nor knowing their place.

We the Syriac and the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses of Aleppo and in coordination with our two Patriarchates in Damascus, express day after day our sadness and increasing pain about the abduction and the absence of these two eminent Prelates, and to what they represent in terms of their holiness, their local and international rank, their active role on all levels including the spiritual, the thoughts, the academic, the education and the social; but above all the humanitarian work which they were carrying within the current crisis which is engulfing our country Syria.

Today, and after one month of abduction, and despite all the prayers and the supplications in the local churches and worldwide; as well as the calls, the statements and the efforts from the Christian and Muslim organizations in the world and the international community, we renew our request for the abductees to revise their action, fear God, and release the two Archbishops without hurting their health or physical situation; and release all other abducted priests and innocent civilians. One month in abduction is more than enough for the two Archbishops. As it is painful for them in their abduction, it is also painful for all the faithful of their two communities, the people of Syria and the world. The continuous abduction of the two Archbishops is damaging the structure of Syria in its diverse components and its long history of coexistence and citizenship. Such a catastrophe will be remembered and recorded in history, likewise the devastating and the grieve of Syria. Such acts will not terrify us because we are the sons of the “Resurrection”. We trust that the mercy of the one God whom we all believe in, will guide the abductees and induce them to release the Archbishops without any pre-conditions, because there is no price equals the freedom of the two Archbishops, and no condition equals their safe return to their communities and churches.

We renew our supplication and continue our prayers with solemnity to our God for the release of the Archbishops, the priests and all those who are in abduction.

Global Christian Forum
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