Adapted from Adrian Butcher’s report for ACNS
The Anglican moderator of the World Council of Churches has called on Christians to become catalysts of a moral force in a world beset by injustice, inequality, and rising xenophobia.
Agnes Abuom, a member of the Anglican Church of Kenya, told the WCC’s Central Committee meeting in Norway that it was time to move from rhetoric to action and walk together with people who are denied justice.
“The witness of many in the forefront of struggles demand that we move away from the culture of conferences and statements and begin to get engaged in actions that nurture hope and alternatives,” she said.
“There is room in the gospel for disagreement but there is no room for disengagement,” she added. “Pilgrimage is about hope breaking into our present, motivating us to move forward, overcoming hurdles. … We need to move from the nostalgia of the past, set aside our burdensome preoccupations and instruments that have outlived their purpose and venture into new and relevant areas of engagement.”
Abuom praised church responses to Europe’s migration crisis. She said it was ironic that powerful nations and former colonial powers seem to be more affected by what she called “fear of the other.”
“There doesn’t seem to be a place that is free of xenophobia and the consequential violence against minorities, migrants and refugees, many of whom are victims of war and poverty,” she said. “The images of rejection and mistreatment of millions fleeing from war and violence in recent times are still fresh in our minds. I commend the churches of Europe for their sensitive and generous response and their great witness, even if it meant facing the ire of their governments and the majority.”
Abuom said the Church needs to renounce values and attitudes that glorify power. She said it must denounce systems and cultures that diminish and deny life. Christians need to confront international financial institutions, military powers, industry, and political systems, rather than being their endorsing agents.
She said pilgrimage offers the Church immense possibilities to reimagine itself as a movement of God’s people in mission, open and agile and receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
This meeting of the WCC’s Central Committee, which has drawn 150 members to Trondheim, Norway, began June 22 and continues to June 28. Abuom is the first woman and the first African to serve as WCC moderator.
She has previously served on the WCC’s Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organizations coordinating social-action programs for religious and civil society across Africa.
Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.