Attending the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea as Anglican Accredited Media opened a whole new world for my husband Roddy MacKenzie and me. The WCC represents 560,000,000 Christians in 110 countries. Most Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican Churches belong, but Roman Catholics do not. The Vatican did send 30 Official Observers and Greetings from Pope Francis. Over 6,000 people from 100 countries participated in Busan. The WCC's purpose was to support, develop and sustian, Christian unity.
The WCC's first Assembly was in Amsterdam in 1948. The most recent [the 9th] was in Brazil in 2006. The sixth Assembly was in Vancouver in 1983. The 10th in Busan was the WCC's second Assembly held in Asia [India was first in 1961]. Being a Canadian Korean fluent in Korean and English who understands Korean culture greatly enriched our WCC experience.
The 10th Assembly's theme was “God of Life: Lead Us to Justice and Peace”. The Assembly featured seven plenaries, 21 ecumenical conversations, 80 workshops and innumerable Bible studies. Five highlights were:
· Several thousand of us worshipping together each day in different languages and cultures. That was awesome global Christian unity. Each day began with a half hour Morning Prayer followed by an hour of Bible Study, and concluded with a half hour Evening Prayer. This "Praying Assembly" awakened our sleeping spirits to the power of the Holy Spirit working in us across the continents.
· We were overwhelmed by so many stories of violence in the world, especially towards women and children. Many tears were shed in Busan.
· The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby. His Grace deeply touched our hearts. He's so personal, gracious, articulate, courageous and Christian. He's filled with the Holy Spirit. His press conference was magnificent. He knows who he is and what he believes. He proclaimed in his Sermon: "We are called to be a Church courageous, Holy and Christ obsessed". When I privately asked him for a blessing, for me personally and also for my new Anglican Canadian-Korean Ministry, he both blessed me and gave me an half hour of pastoral care which I will treasure always.
· Anglican Father Michael Lapsley’s Redeeming the Past book launch and WCC Closing Ceremonies Homily. They were profound. Father Michael was an Apartheid freedom fighter in South Africa at the height of white supremacist repression. He lost both hands and an eye to a letter bomb. God then transformed him from freedom fighter into healer. We cannot forget his humorous and gentle presence.
· Roddy and I were made to feel very welcome and loved by the Anglican Church of Korea. Bishop of Busan, the Right Reverend Onesimus Park and the Primate of Korea, Archbishop Paul Kim included us in everything and introduced us to everybody. After the WCC concluded, Roddy and I spent several days in Seoul as Archbishop Kim's personal guests.
In Busan, Roddy and I experienced the Anglican Communion and Global Christianity at their finest. Our hearts sing for joy to glorify God. God nourished our spirits at the WCC. Thanks be to God.
Images: Top and homepage, left to right, Roddy MacKenzie; the Reverend Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin; Archbishop Paul Kim, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea; Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Middle right, Ka Hyun seated with Veronica Park, wife of the Anglican Bishop of Busan. They were among the 5,000 attending the Gathering Prayer to Officially open the WCC’s 10th Assembly. Lower left, Roddy MacKenzie and Father Michael Lapsley at the Book Launch event.