By Munetsi Madakufamba
Delegates attending the 8th assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare converged in the Worship Tent yesterday to mark the official recommitment churches in the 50th anniversary year of the council.
After greetings from the worship leader, delegates were welcomed by region with hymns that had some relevance to their places of origin.
The delegates then took turns to call for unity, saying that as Christians from the different parts of the world, "we give thanks that the triune God has drawn our churches closer together in faith and life , witness and service".
The largest delegation was from Europe, followed by North America and Africa. The other regions were presented as Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Perhaps the most colourful introduction was that from Africa, which was marked by dancing and ululating as the worshippers sang a Shona hymn, "Uyai Mweya" with the powerful marimba in the background.
In celebrating the anniversary, delegates reaffirmed the WCC as "a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit".
The vision of the church was given as one bound by the biblical verse, "There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were called to one and the same hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, over all, through all and within all."
Church leaders exchanged crosses to underline their shared vision for the ecumenical movement. "We long for the oneness of the body of Christ, affirming the gifts of all, young and old, women and men, lay and ordained," they said. "We open ourselves for a culture of dialogue and solidarity, sharing life with strangers and seeking encounter with those of other faiths."
After the gospel reading and an affirmation of togetherness, all participants received crosses crafted by a young Zimbabwean to mark the peoples work towards unity. In front of them stood a giant teak cross carved by another Zimbabwean artist and depicting the sufferings, liberation and spirituality of Africa.
Concluding the worship, people recommitted themselves in the 50th anniversary year "to strengthen the World Council of Churches, as a truly ecumenical fellowship, fulfilling the purposes for which it was founded -- to the glory of the triune God".
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Read other articles in this issue:
Mandela to WCC: tribute, and the development goal
Four fundamental questions for churches
Experiences people have had: Living the ecumenical connection
Orthodox preachers shares testimony about being lost
Visitors take home gift of a covenant
Bulgarian Orthodox quit WCC
Looking for the vision
WCC to set up commission with Orthodox churches
Trees will be reminder of the 8th assembly
Listen! Children can work
Letters: Provocative, misleading
50 years ago: Report from Amsterdam
Zimbabwe Christians criticise government
WCC celebrates 50th anniversary
Assembly yes to Christian 'forum'
|8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary|