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Second report of the programme committee

Second 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

Second report of the programme committee

1. Introduction

Following its first report to the Central Committee meeting 2002, the Programme Committee presents its second report. Having highlighted in the last report the issues of youth participation, the Programme Committee welcomed the presentation by the Stewards to the CC and recommends that from this meeting onwards the Stewards Message be included in the minutes of CC meetings.

As stated in the first report, this report deals more specifically with the programme prioritisation and alteration in the light of the finance report, and returns to the subject of evaluation. The Programme Committee has been pleased to work in close collaboration with the Finance Committee throughout this second phase of meeting to the point of bringing a Joint Report (Document GEN 20). It is this Joint Report that contains the detailed proposal for implementing decisions on finance and programme policy.

2. Prioritisation for policy decision-making on programmes

Realising the urgency of the present situation, The Programme Committee sought to establish a key question to be used to enable the careful prioritisation of the programmatic work of the Council.

2.1 For any programme, the key question is the following: What is the unique role of the World Council of Churches in this programme? The following were developed as a tool to help assess the answer to this:

1. Does the programme relate to the primary purpose of the WCC as articulated in the

    Constitution: “to call one another to visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and common life in Christ, through witness and service to the world, and to advance towards that unity in order that the world may believe”?

2. Does the programme involve collaboration with member churches and their constituencies so as to be responsive to their priorities?
3. Does the programme empower, affirm, strengthen, challenge and engage the member churches, enabling them to fulfil their mission with mutual accountability?
4. Does the programme draw upon the collective knowledge and wisdom of the member churches for mutual enrichment?
5. Does the programme have an international perspective not being addressed elsewhere?
6. Does the programme enable the fostering of ecumenical relationships that extend beyond what is being done nationally and regionally?

2.2 In addition it is suggested that thought be given as to the consequences of discontinuing a programme or whether it is appropriate to suspend it with a view to reactivation at a later time.

3. Programmes

3.1 As stated in the first report, the Programme Committee wished to make as much progress as possible in providing tools for the CC to respond to the changes necessary because of the financial situation in the Council. Identification of prioritisation criteria and the development of other helpful tools should help in this difficult work. The Programme Committee in carefully surveying the programmes gave attention to this.

3.2 However, it is also true that the Programme Committee was unable, in the time available, to take a comprehensive view on alterations to the programmatic life of the Council in order to bring an explicit recommendation to the CC. For this reason the proposal in the Joint Report of the Finance Committee and the Programme Committee was developed.

3.3 Throughout the discussion of the Programme Committee, there remained uneasiness with the suggestion that the sixteen “core programmes” of the “Blue Book”, as well as the activities listed within them, as formulated are all absolutely necessary and essential for continuation of the programmatic life of the WCC.

3.4 Additionally, given that the introduction to the “Blue Book” says
“The WCC, as an instrument of the global fellowship of the churches, again and again finds itself compelled to respond to emerging challenges often closely related to WCC core programmes. In these cases the WCC acts as facilitator for a common response by a broad coalition of churches and ecumenical partners.”,
the Programme Committee continued until the meeting closed without full understanding and agreement why the “emerging challenges” were not contained within the core programmes with designated funding explicitly identified.

3.5 The Blue Book lists the following four “emerging challenges”:
· Special Focus on Africa
· Decade to Overcome Violence: Coordination, Communication and Networking
· Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
· Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa.

3.6 In so far as these Programmes are already underway, that they clearly relate to the core work, and that WCC involvement has already been mandated through the Harare Assembly, Central and Executive Committees, the Programme Committee finds the designation “emerging challenges” unhelpful and suggests that they henceforth be referred to as mandated broad-based initiatives. In so far as they continue to attract appropriate resources, including funding, the Programme Committee affirms their priority in the current phase of work and continued WCC involvement as per the Blue Book.

3.7 Within the discussions on programmes, it was noted that although some of the reports, such as the Advisory Group on Regional Relations identified children as a priority concern in their report to the Programme Committee (PRO 11.1), the priority of children is only implicit in the Blue Book. Programme Committee requests that work with children be more explicit in the years 2003-2005.

4. Creative Alternatives or Changing the Culture of Work

4.1 The Programme Committee believes that consideration of adjustment and review of the general structure of WCC needs to be undertaken in all future deliberations.

4.2 The Programme Committee sought to explore numerous options that could lead to cost-savings and new ways of working more effectively. They are listed below. However, the Committee was also concerned that many measures listed could lead to further imbalances in regard to regional representation. It should be noted that these are creative options for consideration rather than firm recommendations to the staff and decision makers and should be used in the context of many other factors. It is also true that many of these changes are underway within the life of the Council.

4.3 Staffing:
1. Secondments: Explore the possibility of member churches offering human or financial resources to fill positions.
2. Contracting out: Evaluate the cost effectiveness of contracting out projects and resources.
3. Internships: Use internships for both ecumenical formation and as a means of caring for some activities.
4. Retirees: Utilise the wealth of expertise in individuals who may have recently retired and may be willing to offer services to care for specific activities on a time limited basis.
5. Voluntary missionaries: Encourage persons, younger and older, who might be interested in short term or long term appointments.

4.4 Meetings
1. Examine the frequency and duration of all meetings
2. Consider alternative methods of meeting (e.g. teleconferencing).
3. Seek to streamline and limit the size of committees, advisory groups, etc.
4. Encourage frequent travellers to contribute frequent flyer miles to the WCC or its participants.
5. Consider alternative meeting venues for cost savings with the possibility of developing long term, contractual arrangements with venues outside Geneva.
6. Build on the good experience of host churches, with them carrying some of the expenses and hosting participants within families.
7. Explore reducing WCC subsidies through greater contributions from member churches to travel as well as membership contribution.
8. Look into local booking arrangements for travel to find the most cost effective.
9. Link meetings at the same venue and time.
10. Inquire into corporate sponsorship or privately funded events.

4.5 Operations
1. Merge activities with the work of member churches, national councils of churches, regional ecumenical organisations and Christian world communions, and other ecumenical organisations.
2. Search for avoidable duplication. Develop cross programme collaboration and accountability.
3. Set specific time limits for activities during the planning process with clear, end time assessment.
4. Partner with other organisations (e.g., seminaries, universities and churches) for their willingness to provide or support interns at the WCC.
5. Reduce the frequency and number of publications. Investigate alternative means of publishing (e.g., the use and financial support from publishing houses related to member churches).
6. Increase contributions in-kind (such as provision of meeting venues and supplies).
7. Encourage local development and contribution of activities by churches and/or networks.
8. Seek to locate global programmes locally and invite decentralisation (e.g., EDAN).
9. Identify and use a “lead church concept” for different activities (e.g., ACT).
10. Concentrate efforts to increase and receive member church contributions.

5. Evaluation

5.1 As reported in the First Report of the Programme Committee, the Constituency Team Evaluation found during 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)

5.2 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. At the same time, it is of concern to the Programme Committee that the conclusion drawn from this Evaluation Report that the perception for the constituency on “what is the WCC?” is so varied “that it blurs the profile and image of the Council.”

5.3 To improve the processes of evaluation:

5.3.1 The Programme Committee requests, through their moderators, that each Commission and continuing Advisory Group review their mandate and bring a report with any recommendations for alterations to the 2005 CC meeting.

5.3.2 The Programme Committee recommends that the WCC staff undertake the development of a programme planning, monitoring, evaluation framework, taking into account 3.2 in the Constituency Team Evaluation Report, for use of teams in the planning cycle. This planning framework shall be shared with the Programme Committee of the Executive Committee prior to the February 2003 Executive meeting.

5.3.3 The Programme Committee recommends to CC that a discussion take place at the 2003 CC meeting on the consideration of the constituency related issues specified in section 3.3 of the Evaluation Report (GEN 9). It is suggested that the Programme Committee Core Group be involved in the planning on how this discussion should take place.

5.3.4 The Programme Committee recommends that the CC endorse the Constituency Team’s proposal for a pre-Assembly evaluation starting no later than 18 months before the 9th Assembly, taking into account section 3.4 of the Constituency Team Evaluation Report. The Programme Committee also suggests that there be an evaluation of the governing bodies themselves.

6. Augmented Programme Committee Core Group

The Core Group, that was established by the Executive Committee in Autumn 2001, was altered and augmented. The following group was affirmed by the Programme Committee:

    Father Dr K.M.George, Programme Committee moderator (ex-officio)
    Dr Marion Best, CC Vice-moderator (ex-officio)
    Rev. Ofelia Ortega (CC advisor)
    Ms Manoushag Boyadjian (CC advisor)
    Bishop Michael Stephen (CC member)
    Rev. Dr Bruce Robbins (CC member)

Additional members appointed to constitute the Augmented Programme Committee Core Group:

Ms Inger Aasa Marklund (CC member)
Mr Hildo Bos (CC advisor)