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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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WCC minds shaky finances

The World Council of Churches confronted problems of biblical proportions—millions in debt, an unwieldy structure, a languishing ecumenical movement and grumbling from its 330 member churches about their level of participation in the organization. One Orthodox church has dropped out; others threaten to follow suit.

The WCC Central Committee meeting Sept. 11-19 in Geneva, Switzerland, saw solutions in two forms--"unexpectedly good investment results" and a document, "Toward a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches."

Kathy Magnus, an ELCA representative on the committee, said the document outlines a streamlined structure that would be "more flexible and interactive between departments" and involve the member churches more closely in the WCC and in an ecumenical movement that is revitalized for the millennium. The 156-member Central Committee proposes that the WCC Assembly adopt the document when it meets in 1998 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

It's a vital proposal for the assembly to have because it provides a much-needed link between the WCC's priorities and its budget and staffing, said Daniel Martensen, an ELCA observer at the committee meeting.

Investment results in 1996 allowed the WCC to write off 1995 and 1996 "operating shortfalls." A WCC official also said the outlook for 1997 investments is hopeful and the organization is operating within budget.


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September issue

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