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Adopted by WCC Unit IV Commission
Alexandria, Egypt, June 1995


Round tables (RTs) have been developed since 1984 by the WCC, as new mechanisms of ecumenical sharing of resources. The proliferation of individual projects was found to be piecemeal and unsatisfactory, commitment to funding was usually short-term, and partnership remained underdeveloped.

In 1994-95 a review of the approx. 35 existing RTs was undertaken by the WCC. Based on experience improvements were suggested and a clearer vision and understanding of objectives developped. The present document is an attempt in a very brief and general manner to set out guidelines for RTs sponsored by the WCC. These can be used as an introduction to the RT concept, in evaluating RTs and when considering the creation of new RTs.

WCC Round Tables are an instrument of Ecumenical Sharing of Resources involving church-related partners. The theological concepts of diakonia (service) and koinonia (fellowship) are therefore central to the RT. The RTs are a celebration and sharing of God's gifts: both material and spiritual. RTs can also be seen in the perspective of the Biblical understanding of "jubilee" as a way to foster social justice.

The Round Table approach is an appropriate methodology for arriving at consensus on the sharing of resources and it should be used by the World Council of Churches:

  • to give a concrete expression to partnership within the ecumenical community, replacing such outmoded relationship descriptions as donor/recipient or sending and receiving,
  • to provide a forum for discussion of ecumenical issues, interpretation, and cooperation, bringing together the WCC with communitites, partner churches and agencies,
  • to enable the exercise of final discipline through agreed-upon budget and programme development, regular financial monitoring and reporting, and
  • to enhance through the coordination of WCC the visibility of regional concerns in the ecumenical movement worldwide.
    Relationship and dialogue is fundamental to the round table process, firstly between local partners (churches, ecumenical organisations, movements and action groups) and then between local partners and international partners (agencies, missions and sister churches). Only on the basis of a carefully prepared dialogue can there be a genuine exchange of information, analysis and reflection, leading to mutual understanding, identification of common concerns, formulation of policies and setting of priorities and provision of funds for programmes.

    In universal terms ecumenical Round Tables provide opportunities:

  • to give concrete expression to partnership within the ecumenical community, replacing outmoded relationship descriptions such as donor/reciepient or sending and receiving.
  • to provide a forum for discussion of ecumenical issues.
  • to analyse the search for human dignity and sustainable community and reflect upon the specific Christian insights, interest and involvement of the ecumenical movement in that search.
  • This happens:

  • through studies commissioned by the RT,
  • through experience made by RT participants,
  • through presentations and articles contributed by invited guests at RT meetings.
  • to advocate models of witness and service which will enhance the Christian vision of human dignity and sustainable community:
  • by identifying, supporting and highlighting new models,
  • by mobilising members to network within the churches and movements,
  • by assisting agencies to develop and implement advocacy strategies.
  • to establish policies, goals and priorities and set criteria for the allocation of resources which will promote the Christian vision of human dignity and sustainable community.

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