Leaders of one of the largest global church bodies – bringing together Protestant, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Anglican churches - have been in South Korea finalizing plans along with their local hosts for a major gathering set to take place in October and early November.
The World Council of Churches' 10th Assembly is being held this year in the Korean port city of Busan from October 30 to November 8.
"The World Council of Churches 10th Assembly will be an opportunity for praying, listening and sharing together," said the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, Secretary General of the WCC at a press conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea on Tuesday.
"The event will provide participants a chance to listen for the voice of God, leading them to justice and peace in the world," he said.
Other leaders of the Geneva-based organization in Seoul included Prof. Dr. Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee and moderator of the assembly planning committee, Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia.
The press conference served as an opportunity for Rev. Tveit to introduce the organization, its work and the theme of the assembly, "God of life, lead us to justice and peace."
Rev. Tveit, who was also set to meet with several Korean church leaders, noted the WCC is a fellowship of churches with more than 560 million combined members in more than 110 countries.
"Through the WCC assembly, hosted by the Korean churches, we hope to respond to God's calling for Christian unity and common witness in the world," said Tveit.
"The WCC assembly in Korea," Tveit said, "will make important statements on Christian unity, social issues, peace concerns for the Korean peninsula and global conflicts."
On Jan. 27, Rev. Tveit preached at Myung Sung Presbyterian Church in Seoul, one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the country, according to the WCC. More than 12,000 people attended the worship service.
The topic of the sermon was about God's will to "speak peace to his people," noting Koreans, like people in other places around the world, long for a final peace settlement in their land.
The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, alternately known as South and North Korea, are currently split by the world's most fortified border, and are still technically at war since no peace treaty was signed at the end of armed conflict 60 years ago.
As part of his meetings, Rev. Tveit was also scheduled to meet Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
About the assembly
The WCC says in the website dedicated to the assembly that the invitation for the WCC to come to the country was the joint effort of many churches in the country, including WCC member churches, evangelical churches and Pentecostal churches.
Busan, with more than 4 million people, is the second largest city in South Korea. The main venue for the event will be the Busan exhibition and conference center (BEXCO).
The WCC assembly is the highest governing body of the WCC and meets every seven years. It has a mandate to review the organization's programs, issue public statements and determine the overall polices of the group, as well as to elect presidents and a Central Committee that oversees the council's work until the next assembly.
The business of the event will include changes in governance, elections and receiving reports as well as processing the work of assembly committees.
The assembly program will also include space for prayer, daily bible study in small groups, thematic plenaries and ecumenical conversations.