ANTELIAS–His Holiness Catholicos Aram I arrived in South Korea on August 20 to chair the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC). During his eight day stay in Seoul–His Holiness will preach at the Presbyterian Church–he will address a reception organized by the state. He will also give a talk on Ecumen’sm for the 21st century during a symposium organized by the churches in South Korea.
The WCC Executive Committee will meet for the first time in South Korea. The vitality of the churches and the ecumenical movement in Korea and the region will be at the center of the August 24-27 meeting. It will be preceded by a special program for WCC executive committee members from August 21-23.
Peace and reconciliation in the divided peninsula has received particular attention from the churches and the WCC for decades; it will be the focus of a statement by the executive committee on Korea. The committee will address other situations of international concern–including events in Sudan–Zimbabwe–and Somalia.
Preparations for the WCC’s 9th assembly–to be held in Brazil in February 2006–will also receive priority attention. In addition–the committee will review applications for membership from several churches–and a series of proposed amendmen’s to membership rules.
Also on the agenda are a review of the WCC’s Pacific office–a progress report on relations with partner organizations–a detailed program report for the first half of 2004–and an update on the council’s finances.
For the first time–the executive committee will be using a consensus method of decision-making as a new methodology of work to be applied at major WCC meetings. This approach to decision-making was proposed by the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC.
The special program for the members of the executive committee will include a visit to the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea.
The program also includes worship in local church communities–as well as a reception hosted by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean ministry of culture. An audience with the president of the Republic of Korea–His Eminence Roh Moo-hyun–is also foreseen.
On 23 August–the NCCK will organize a seminar on the future of ecumen’sm which will be addressed by WCC leadership.
The executive committee meeting is being hosted by the NCCK and the four WCC member churches in the country: the Anglican Church of Korea–the Korean Methodist Church–the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea–and the Presbyterian Church of Korea.
The 25-member executive committee is the highest governing body between meetings of the WCC central committee–and it usually meets twice-yearly. Catholicos Aram I will serve as the meeting’s moderator.
On his way back from South Korea–Catholicos Aram I will make a brief stop in Dubai–where he will meet the Armenian Community leaders of the Emirates. The Communications and Information officer of the Catholicosate V. Rev. Krikor Chiftjian will accompany His Holiness during his journey.