A busy Friday for Bishop Alan at WCC

Saturday November 2nd 2013

The auditorium in Busan, Republic of Korean, which is the venue for the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. Photo: Bishop Alan Abernethy.The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, files his latest report from Busan, Republic of Korea, where he is attending the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches on behalf of the Church of Ireland.

He writes:

Day two / three (Friday / Saturday – Busan is nine hours ahead of UK time):

Friday morning bible study was based on Amos 5:14–24. This involved particular focused questions discussed in small groups and the cultural mix, denominational variation and the geographical spread makes these discussions fascinating, although there isn’t enough time for any great depth.

The following are two comments; “For Amos God is a god of relationship. “God’s frustration with His people is a moment of love and hope as He is unwilling to give up on His people.” The daily bible studies are each morning at 9:15 to 10:15 and they are preceded by morning worship at 8:30.

At 11:15 the main plenary session takes place and lasts until 12:15. Friday session began with some greetings and there was one from the Archbishop of Canterbury and one from the Chairperson of the Pentecostal Global Fellowship.

View from Bishop Alan's sean (near the front!) during a WCC business meeting.The session was led by people from Asia and focused our thinking on the theme of the conference; “God of life, lead us to justice and peace,” reflecting on this from an Asian perspective. There was singing, dancing, photographs and images from Asia on the large screens and it was very moving and informative.

We then all scrambled our way to find something and somewhere to eat, I settled for a sandwich and a bottle of water. After lunch there was another business session from 2:15 to 3:45. This involved a listening to comments on a statement drafted on unity, a discussion on the nominations to the Central Committee of the WCC, there are not enough nominations yet, and there are clear guidelines on representation on different issues including gender, age, region and denominations to name a few. There was also a report of the policy committee.

It was then time to leave to prepare for an evening for confessional meetings, so I went to an evening for Anglicans hosted by the Anglican Church of Korea. This involved some informal conversations at the tables we would later eat at.

We then had the joy of sharing a Eucharist for All Saint’s Day. The Primate of the Anglican Church Of Korea, Paul Guen–Sang Kim, presided and the Archbishop of Canterbury preached. This was followed by five speeches, a fascinating short video of the history of the Anglican Church in Korea and toast to them.

A wonderful feast then followed and we were eating at 9:15. It was back to my accommodation after that for a night’s sleep and even better today was a day for relaxation and a short walk around the part of the city in which I am staying.

I am writing this late on Saturday evening after having put the finishing touches to my sermon which I had to write a script for as I am being translated. I am preaching in Busan Cathedral and the Bishop of Busan, Onesimus D. S. Dark, is celebrating Holy Communion.

We are then being entertained by the cathedral congregation and have an evening of cultural celebration in the conference centre to look forward to.

Back to business on Monday and five days of hard work before we finish.

Please pray for the conference. Please pray for me and for all of us particularly for stamina. 

Earlier reports submitted by Bishop Alan can be read below:

Day One:

I have arrived safe and well after a long journey. Flew from Dublin to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Seoul and Seoul to Busan. The time difference is 9 hours, my body clock is struggling as I have lost 9 hours somewhere.My participation at the conference began this morning with prayers at 8:30. A fascinating new simple liturgical structure, with African singing and prayers in different languages concluding with the Lord’s Prayer said in our own native tongue.This morning’s plenary was opened by a special visit from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea. Then followed a reflection on the church’s role in justice led by different speakers.Two highlights were a presentation regarding HIV/ Aids and what has happened in the numbers of people treated and the hope that no child will be born with this disease very soon. Secondly a reflection on the theology of victims modelled and incarnated by Jesus.It is only lunch time on first day so much more to come.

Day one / two:

For lunch on Thursday I visited a ‘Pizza Hut’ and no it wasn’t a pizza but some spaghetti!

The afternoon continued with a business meeting of the Assembly. The main business was about the process of elections to various WCC committees and reports on how this would be taken forward. Over the next few days there will be nominations for these posts. It was interesting as I was able to exercise my voting rights as a delegate representing the Church of Ireland.

The afternoon also included a regional meeting of European delegates and an ecumenical conversation about theological education and ecumenical implications.

On Thursday night I managed to catch up on some of those lost nine hours jet lag.

Today (Friday) has started with morning prayer and a bible study form the book of Amos about justice.

We are at present receiving greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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