From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Raiser calls for ecumenical shake-up to overcome

Date Fri, 15 Aug 2003 14:35:17 -0500

Note #7881 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Raiser calls for ecumenical shake-up to overcome 'institutionalism'
August 15, 2003

Raiser calls for ecumenical shake-up to overcome 'institutionalism'

By Stephen Brown
Ecumenical News International

GENEVA - Saying the ecumenical movement has been "overcome by
institutionalism," the outgoing general secretary of the World Council of
Churches has called a top-level meeting for November that could result in a
radical shake-up of the way in which Christian churches work together.

"We need to envisage a new configuration [for the ecumenical movement] that
is more flexible and responsive," said the Rev. Konrad Raiser, who retires as
WCC general secretary at the end of the year, in a statement made available
in Geneva Aug. 11.

The Geneva-based WCC, with 342 member churches from most Christian
traditions, is the world's largest ecumenical grouping but it does not
include the Roman Catholic Church.

The proposed meeting scheduled to take place in Antelias, Lebanon, follows a
report by Raiser to the WCC's governing central committee last year.

He said in his report that the WCC needed to find ways of associating the
various Christian world communions - such as the Lutherans, Reformed churches
or Anglicans - and regional and national councils of churches more

Many WCC member churches belong to these bodies which Raiser suggested could
be integrated into a more tightly bound "common framework" to reduce
duplication of efforts.

Detailed plans about the "reconfiguration" are to be presented to this year's
meeting of the WCC's central committee, the main governing body of the
grouping, taking place in Geneva at the end of August.

"Many ecumenical structures at the national, regional and global levels face
serious difficulties," Raiser says in a letter to participants invited to the
November meeting. It is the latest of a series of attempts by Raiser during
his 10 years as WCC general secretary to streamline international church

In 1998 at its assembly, held once every seven years, the WCC gave its
backing to the creation of a "Forum of Christian Churches and Ecumenical
Organizations" to bring to a single table nearly all of the main Christian
churches and organizations. This could include the Roman Catholic Church and
major Pentecostal and Evangelical bodies that are not WCC members.

A planning committee for the forum is scheduled to meet a month before the
Lebanon consultation.

In 1995, just over two years after taking up his post, Raiser told the WCC
central committee that the "old dream" that the whole of the ecumenical
movement could be embraced in one global structure had gone.

He said the WCC had to be ready to think of new "models" for the ecumenical
movement which could also "facilitate the integration or full participation
of the Roman Catholic Church."

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