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First report of the programme committee

First report of the programme committee to the WCC Central Committee, 2002

02 September 2002

World Council of Churches
Geneva, Switzerland
26 August - 3 September 2002

First report of the programme committee

1. Introduction
The Programme Committee met for the third time just prior to the Central Committee meetings of 2002. This marked the mid-point in time between Assemblies, the point of mid-term evaluation of three years of programme work, and for planning the next three years programme work.

2. Programme Committee Self-Understanding
2.1 During the course of its work the Programme committee continued to develop its self- understanding and appropriate patterns of working. In particular it noted that future meetings need to include a review of its previous report and consideration of any matters arising that are not dealt with elsewhere.

2.2 With regard to documentation of the work of consultative bodies:
· It is recognised that each body will produce its own full report in its own style. This will meet the need for minutes, aid staff in their on-going work, and be able to be shared with other staff teams. Noting, with concern, that requests from the Programme and Central Committees for information regarding youth participation had not been acted upon, the Programme Committee requests that staff of all teams address this issue and that all consultative bodies include a paragraph with specific information on youth participation in their report. Another need across all programmes remains: “to develop theological principles to ensure the full participation of young people,” especially through leadership training (CC Minutes, Potsdam 2001, Programme Committee Report, p. 105).
· The Programme Committee strongly re affirms its requirement that all Consultative Bodies produce a two page summary report for the Programme Committee as previously requested. (CC Minutes, Potsdam 2001, Programme Committee, p. 110).
· Additionally, consultative bodies are invited specifically to identify those things relating to policy which need to be highlighted by the Programme Committee as well as any recommendations for the Programme Committee to forward to the CC. Staff are requested to assist the Programme Committee by identifying all these items from the consultative bodies' reports in advance of the Programme Committee meeting.

3. Activity Report 2001
3.1 An activity report for the year 2001 was received by the Programme Committee and is forwarded to Central Committee (GEN 7). One purpose in giving it to CC is to meet the concern expressed in Potsdam that members of CC did not have enough information about the Council’s programmes and activities. Members of CC are asked to note that contact details are given for each programme and members are encouraged to contact people to find out more information. The Activity report also can be used by CC members to report back to member churches, National Councils of Churches, Regional Ecumenical Organisations and other ecumenical partners.

3.2 The Programme Committee commends the work done by the staff to produce a synthesised, summary report of all the programmes and activities. It felt progress had been made since the last meeting in making the documentation manageable and appropriate. A balance must be struck between a journalistic style that makes content easily communicable, and sufficient narrative to enable the Programme Committee to do its work. Clear statements of outcomes achieved are to be welcomed.

3.3 It is recognised that the activity report follows themes from the CUV. The agreed thematic framework of Being Church; Caring for Life; Ministry of Reconciliation; and Common Witness and Service amidst Globalisation can be found as an undergirding vision throughout the report. This gives a substantial theological foundation for the programmatic work of the Council.

3.4 The Programme Committee appreciated a visual presentation from the Cluster Directors where they offered their insights on the overall Activities Report.

3.5 The Programme Committee recommends that the CC receive the Activity Report with thanks.

4. Evaluation Report
4.1 The Programme Committee at previous meetings sought to establish efficient terms of programme evaluation that reflect the thrusts and policies of the World Council of Churches. The Programme Committee received the WCC Constituency Team Evaluation Report (GEN 9) alongside the Activity Report 2001-2002 (GEN 7) and commend the Constituency Team for their thorough and challenging work. The Programme Committee recommends that the CC receive this report.

4.2 The Constituency Team found during its work that it needed to use another set of terms of reference than those identified at the previous meeting of the Programme Committee (Uniqueness of WCC; Relevance; Urgency; Impact; Effectiveness; Centrality; Newness; Learning; Best Level for the Activity to take place; Factual & Statistic Information; Inclusiveness; Work Style). This made it difficult for the Programme Committee at this meeting to fulfil entirely its task to:

    ensure that the development of programmes takes account of the major thrusts and policies adopted by the Central Committee and to provide for and make recommendations for regular evaluation of programmes and activities. (WCC Rules, VII, a, d)

4.3 The Constituency Team Report serves an important role and is of significant value for the Council. It enables the Council to have an overview of the entirety of the Council's work and of the complex interrelationship of its structure, staff and programme.

4.4 The Programme Committee shares the concern raised by the Constituency Team for mechanisms and systems which maximise constituency input into programme design, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation (1.5). The Committee also acknowledges the need to overcome the current use of multiple sets of criteria for programme planning, monitoring and evaluation.

4.5 The Programme Committee recognises that the term “evaluation” is used and understood differently in different cultures and contexts. There is also an inherent tension in the application of the tools of evaluation to a fellowship of churches. The Committee shall pursue further discussion on this topic.

4.6 In its second phase of meetings during the CC, The Programme Committee expects to return to the Constituency Team Report, particularly the recommendations in Section Five and to bring further recommendations to the CC. Members of CC with comments or suggestions are invited to put these in writing for the moderator of the Programme Committee.

5. Reports of the Consultative Bodies
5.1 The Programme Committee discussed and received the following summary reports:

  • Faith and Order Standing Commission (PRO 10.1)
  • Advisory Group on Church and Ecumenical Relations (PRO 12.1)
  • Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (PRO 5.1 and 5.2)
  • Advisory Group on Communication (PRO 9.1)
  • Advisory Group on Women (PRO 7.1)
  • Commission on Education and Ecumenical Formation (PRO 6.1)
  • Advisory Group on Youth (PRO 8)
  • Advisory Group on Regional Relations and Ecumenical Sharing (PRO 11.1)
  • Advisory Group on Interreligious Relations and Dialogue (PRO 14)
  • JPC Core Advisory Group (PRO 13)
  • Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (PRO 15.1)
  • Annual Report 2001 of the Ecumenical Institute Bossey (PRO 16.1)
  • Reference Group of the Decade to Overcome Violence (PRO 17)

These summary reports, and /or full reports, in English, are available at the Documentation table to CC members upon request.

5.2 The Programme Committee expresses its gratitude to the consultative bodies for the work represented in their reports. Here follow specific recommendations to CC that constitutionally require action at this time, together with information about particular aspects of programme work which relate to policy.

5.3 Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME)
The Programme committee received a report from the Conference Planning Committee on behalf of the CWME Commission concerning proposals for the forth-coming Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in 2005. According to the CWME bylaws the CWME Commission decides on the size, membership and programme of the conference subject to the approval of CC.

5.3.1 The Programme Committee, believing it to be well timed and well chosen, recommends that the CC approve the main thematic focus for the Conference of “Called in Christ to be Reconciling and Healing Communities” and the aim of the Conference “to empower participants to continue in their call to be in mission together and to work towards reconciliation and healing in Christ, in God’s world today.” The explanation of the thematic focus, detailed objectives and what this will mean for the conference style are to be found in the appendix to this report.

5.3.2 During its discussions on the description of the thematic area, the Programme Committee asked the Commission and staff to include and/or give more visibility to the following concerns: the study process on women and mission, the role of the Holy Spirit in mission, healing and reconciliation, clear links to the DOV, and biblical references on reconciliation and healing.

5.3.3 The Programme Committee recommends that the CC set a maximum number of participants of 500 persons. It further recommends that 400 of these five hundred participants be members appointed from those nominated by WCC member churches, affiliated bodies and the wider constituency of Catholics, Pentecostals and Evangelicals, and 100 persons be appropriate consultants.

5.3.4 In addition to the 500 participants there will be staff, co-opted staff, stewards, press, observers and visitors. The Programme Committee encourages those planning the conference to invite persons of other religions to attend the conference. It is recognised that the number of visitors may be affected by the venue chosen. Numbers of visitors may also affect the process of the conference, and may thus need to be restricted in order not to jeopardise the conference aim and objectives.

5.3.5 The Programme Committee recommends that the balance of the CWME Commission itself is a positive guideline to adopt for the membership of the Conference, i.e. one half from WCC member churches, one-fourth from affiliated bodies, and one fourth from the wider constituency of Catholics, Pentecostal and Evangelicals. On the above proposal that would give 200 members nominated by member churches, 100 by the affiliated bodies, and 100 from the Catholics, Pentecostals and evangelicals. The normal quotas of the WCC to ensure balanced participation will be used and those making nominations are to be asked to work to assist with this as well as to offer nominations of those who might be seen as voices from the margins. The Programme Committee reiterates the expressed hope of the Commission that youth will be among those appointed in all categories.

5.4 Church and Ecumenical Relations/Regional Relations and Ecumenical Sharing
The Programme Committee appreciated initiatives in both of these consultative bodies to discuss a common agenda with the World Council of Churches and to identify the unique and particular roles of Regional Ecumenical Organisations (REO’s), National Councils of Churches (NCC’s) and Christian World Communions (CWC’s) and other partner organisations, and encourages this work to continue.

5.5 The Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace, 2001 - 2010 (DOV)
The Programme Committee was pleased to note that, throughout the Consultative Bodies' reports, the concerns of the Council wide DOV initiative are being taken up. It encourages programmes to continue to link with the DOV Reference Group and share information particularly in relation to the four identified themes: 1) the spirit and logic of violence; 2) the use, abuse and misuse of power; 3) issues of justice and 4) issues of religious identity and plurality. The Programme Committee received with pleasure the study guide “Why violence? Why not Peace” now available. Among the many ways the decade is being taken forward in the coming years emphasis will be given to the consultation on Orthodox perspectives on churches seeking reconciliation and peace and to theological reflection from differing perspectives on exploring peace theology. The "Living Letters" methodology in accompanying the member churches is encouraged.

5.5.1 The Programme Committee recommends to the CC that the Executive Committee designate a region and a theme as a focus for the Decade for each year as it did in 2002.

It is envisaged that each year’s focus will be chosen in consultation with the region. It should be relevant and applicable to other regions, identify local models of non-violent approaches to reconciliation and peace, and aim at promoting the participation of local churches in DOV campaigns.

5.6 Youth
The Programme Committee heard in the report of the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) that it had requested statistical information about youth participation in all WCC activities in accordance with decision of the Programme committee meeting in Potsdam 2001 to use statistics as one evaluation criterion for determining the inclusivity of a programme. The Programme Committee further noted that this statistical information had not been forthcoming and that therefore the work of the YAG is seriously impaired. The Programme Committee urgently requests staff and consultative bodies to provide this statistical information wherever possible.

5.7 Guidelines for Dialogue and Relations with People of Other Religions
The Advisory Group on Interreligious Relations and Dialogue presented a recommendation to the Programme Committee for action involving an updated report called Guidelines for Dialogue and Relations with People of Other Religions (GEN 11). It was drafted in response to the need for a revision of the 1979 WCC Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies. The Programme Committee understands this document to be a resource for reflection produced at the request of various church constituencies, who are in involved, in or challenged by, interreligious relations and dialogue in the present context. The Committee reviewed the document and recommends that the Central Committee receive it. The Committee also requests the following three items to be referred to the Advisory Group for further development and inclusion in the Guidelines:

    1. An emphasis upon areas where there is religious cooperation and a citation of examples of places in the world where cooperation is taking place.
    2. A reflection upon the resurgence of religious fundamentalism.
    3. A consideration of state-sponsored peace initiatives as well as examples where states are adding statements on religion to their constitutions.

    During the plenary discussion of the GUIDELINES document, several persons highlighted the need for careful balance and sensitivity to the affirmation of Jesus Christ as saviour for the world with the need for mutual respect and encounter with people of other religions. The Programme Committee encourages the Advisory Group to be in conversation with CWME and the Faith and Order Commission about future discussions on this important topic within our churches and in relation to other religious communities.

    6. Programme Committee Responses to Current Issues (Not Covered in the Consultative Bodies’ Reports)
    6.1 A WCC team has been involved in preparatory work for, and is co-ordinating a delegation, including representatives of member churches, attending the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development. This meets concurrently [24th August – 4th September in Johannesburg] with the CC. The Programme Committee recommends to Policy Ref II committee that it comment on the churches participation in this important meeting.

    6.2 The Programme Committee draws attention to the fact that it has heard the desire within several member churches that the WCC coordinate work and to reflect further on ethical responses to developments of genetic engineering and its place within the thematic focus of Caring for Life.

    7. Working Together, Making a Difference: WCC Programmes 2003-2005
    7.1 An important part of the work of the Programme Committee is a planning document called Working Together, Making a Difference: WCC Programmes 2003-2005” (GEN 10). In the light of challenges faced by the Programme Committee in previous years, this “Blue Book” represents a large, and much appreciated, effort by staff, in consultation with a core group of the Programme Committee, to outline programmes and priorities for 2003-2005. The Programme Committee was pleased that its concerns and frustrations concerning consultation between financial planning and programming have been addressed. In particular, it is good to see that the Council now works with an “activity-based costing system” (ABC).

    7.2 The "Blue Book", Working Together, uses categories based upon the Harare statement, The Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC: Staying Together, Acting Together, and Living Together. Under these categories, sixteen core programmes are proposed that represent the heart of the work of the Council and which respond to the constitutional mandates of the WCC, without which the Council would not fulfil its common understanding and vision. The proposed sixteen core programmes under these categories (and the activities listed within them) would receive the highest priority of funding.

    In addition, the WCC, as an instrument of the global fellowship of churches, finds itself compelled to respond to "emerging challenges" often closely related to WCC core programmes. These are time specific and are worked out by a network of ecumenical partners, with the WCC serving as co-ordinator. The "Blue Book" proposes that these will be carried out to the extent that special funding is made available.

    The "Blue Book" further proposes "specific expressions" that would require additional funding beyond the proposed sixteen core programmes.

    7.3 The Programme Committee is in process of reviewing the proposed sixteen core programmes, the emerging challenges and the “specific expressions” in order to be assured that the categories represent the programmes that are constitutional or are mandated by its assemblies and Central Committee meetings. The Programme Committee heard presentations from the finance committee and staff and is challenged to establish the Council's programmes and activities within the constraints of the financial situation. The Programme Committee’s final report to the CC shall include any recommendation for change, addition or deletion. CC members are encouraged to examine the "Blue Book" carefully and to make any suggestions in writing to the moderator of the Programme Committee.

    7.4 The Programme Committee will also develop criteria and mechanisms to be used as necessary in making programmatic alterations, dependent upon the income received by the Council. A time frame shall also be developed indicating when during the fiscal year any decisions need to be made for expenditure adjustments during the following year. The final report to the CC will include these matters.


    Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, 2005

    Main thematic focus: Called in Christ to be Reconciling and Healing Communities

    Explanation of the thematic focus

    In a time of globalisation with increasing violence, fragmentation and exclusion, the mission of the church is to receive, celebrate, proclaim and work for the fullness of life in Christ.

    It should be noted that the above formulation is to be understood as a focus for the theme not a title for the Conference. A certain amount of deliberate ambiguity is contained in the wording. This reflects the diversity of approaches amongst members of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism and invites further exploration and clarification.

    At this time in a globalised context, God entrusts and commissions us with a message of healing and reconciliation and sends us out in mission. This demonstrates that there is already a relationship between God and us; we rejoice that we are reconciled to God in Christ.

    In Christ:
    Through the Holy Spirit, God in Christ continues as healer and reconciler in the world. The crucified and resurrected Christ invites us to participate in healing and reconciliation.

    To be:
    Our being, and our way of being together, needs to reflect our vision of reconciliation.

    Reconciling and healing:
    Repairing the broken relationships: God - human beings

      People - people
      Churches - churches
      Nation - nation
      Humanity - creation

    Health, balance, wholeness of life: for individuals

      for whole communities
      for humanity

    Reconciling and healing need to be experienced within communities (member to member), between communities where brokenness exists, and in humanity’s relationship with creation.

    By using the term “communities” (instead of “Community”) we want to affirm the plurality and the diverse nature of the communities in which we live.

    Aim and Objectives:
    To empower participants to continue in their call to be in mission together and work towards reconciliation and healing in Christ, in God’s world today.


    • To enthuse participants with new vision, energy, tools and skills to bring the holistic mission imperative alive again.
    • To enable the conference to be a living community of reconciliation and healing.
    • To experience healing and reconciliation that leads to the transformation of persons.
    • To ensure safe/sacred spaces where reflections, theory and stories can be heard and dialogue can take place.
    • To strive to be a sign of reconciliation and healing among the churches.
    • To celebrate our unity in Christ and our God-given diversity.
    • To enable participants to commit themselves to be agents/multipliers of reconciliation and healing in their own churches, communities and contexts.

    Themes / Interest Areas
    To achieve the above aim and objectives, the CPC is planning a different style of conference from those held in the past. The intention is NOT to have the previous pattern of section and sub-section work. Rather, we will use the image of “journeying” together in exploring the many different strands that come into focus under the overall thematic area, allowing mutual learning, exploration and enrichment. To this end we offer four “signposts”, offering ways in to the overall thematic area. They are also to be seen as an invitation to engage with the CWME in preparation for the conference.

    1. Concerns of identity amidst multi-faceted and changing contexts
    2. Healing and reconciling ministries in a violent world
    3. Seeking alternative communities in a globalised world
    4. Being a missional and evangelising church

    The aim and objectives make it clear that this conference will have a different style from that of its predecessors, including preparation and follow-up.

    The preparatory process will seek to gather together strands from churches, mission bodies, national and regional ecumenical meetings already engaged in doing and exploring mission as reconciliation and healing to feed into the conference.

    The conference will be designed to have a liturgical flow, with elements of liturgy finding a place in the day-to-day activities of the meetings, as well as offering a framework to the overall flow of the conference. Such liturgical elements need not follow any rigid pattern, but could happen simultaneously in different places, and as the Spirit leads. There could be elements planned for the whole conference, such as celebration, confession, affirmation of faith etc, but the smaller groups may also experience the elements of such a liturgical flow throughout the day.

    Suggested liturgical elements:

    • Get to know each other, welcome and celebration
    • Repentance/ forgiveness
    • Glory to God
    • Listening to the Word of God, Bible study and reflection
    • Offering of our experience in healing and reconciliation
    • Intercessions
    • Moment of peace
    • Sending out or commissioning
    • Affirmation of faith

    The major outcome of the conference will be persons, who are transformed through their experience, energised and empowered for mission in their local churches, communities and contexts.

    In addition, a short evocative message from the participants, which could be for all the churches will share an immediate perspective from the conference and also hold the participants themselves to accountability.

    There could be a collection of the materials used and produced during the preparation and during the conference that could be gathered together and made available, both electronically and in print. It would be important to identify people who could help to do this.