Women and Men’s Pre-Assembly Opening Prayer celebrations at the WCC 10th Assembly, Oct 28, 2013, Busan, Republic of Korea Photo: Peter Williams/WCC
Participants from across the ecumenical membership of the World Council of Churches gathered from 28 to 29 October for a Women and Men’s Pre-assembly programme preceding the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea. The WCC has had a long tradition and commitment to gender justice and advocacy for a just community of women and men in church and society, a commitment which began at the first WCC assembly in 1948.
WACC's own commitment to gender justice includes planning for the next Global Media Monitoring Project, a worldwide survey that tracks gender representation in the news and takes place every five years.
For the WCC, 2013 marks 60 years since the establishment of the WCC programme on Women in Church and Society. This programme provides an opportunity for women representing different Christian traditions, regions and age groups an opportunity to share their visions so they may contribute to society, ecumenical movement and the search for Christian unity.
For the first time in Busan, the pre-assembly gathering of women also included participation of men to reflect on the contribution and role of men towards building a just community of women and men in the church and society. The event provided a platform for shared dialogue between women and men on issues of gender justice.
The Women and Men’s Pre-assembly event began with 60th anniversary celebrations. The men joined celebrations of the work of women including Bishop Barbel von Wartenberg Potter from Germany, who served as director of WCC’s Programme for Women in Church and Society from 1983 to 1986; and Dr Aruna Gnanadason from the Church of South India, programme executive for Women in Church and Society, 1991 to 2011. Gnanadason was present at the celebrations and participated in the two-day conversations.
The celebrations continued with a vibrant welcome from Korean and other Asian assembly participants. This also provided an opportunity for an introduction to the Korean culture along with the global company of women and men gathered from across the world.
The women in pre-assembly reflected on the assembly theme “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”. They acknowledged the realities of many communities that are life-denying to women including the stories of sexual violence, abuse and rape of women as a weapon of war in the Congo and the demolition of homes and its corresponding trauma for women and children in Palestine.
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