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Back to Press Releases main page > August 2005

WCC General Secretary visits the Caribbean

Worldwide trends in the Christian Church are changing the "ecclesial and ecumenical landscape in the 21st century".

That is the opinion of Kenya-born Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who was in Trinidad July 28 for a one day visit to meet with the leadership of the Caribbean Conference of Churches ( CCC ). This sojorn was the initial leg of Dr. Kobia's first official visit to the Caribbean Region.

The CCC is headquartered in Trinidad with offices in Jamaica and Antigua . It is the regional affiliate of the WCC, which is based in Geneva , Switzerland.

Accompanying Rev Kobia on his visit to the Caribbean was Marta Palma, WCC programme executive for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Rev Dr Kobia met and spoke to local and regional Christian Church leaders during his short stay.

Present at the function, a dinner in his honour held at Chaconia Hotel (formerly Chaconia Inn), Maraval, were CCC general secretary Gerard Granado and representatives of the Methodist, Moravian, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox, Presbyterian Churches.

Bishop Reece, who did the opening prayer, was present in his capacity as one of the three CCC presidents.

Specially invited to Trinidad for the visit was Antiguan Donnalie Edwards-Cabey, a member of the Central Committee of the WCC and a former member of the CCC 's governing board, known as the Continuation Committee.

In his talk, Rev Dr Kobia said one of the world-wide trends noticed was that many Christians are moving towards non-denominationalism. Young people seem to be migrating away from main-line churches into non-denominational "mega-churches", he said. This is because young people "couldn't care less" about the divisions that took place centuries ago which split the Christian Church.

Another trend is the growth of Pentecostalism, which is impacting on the forms of worship in mainline churches. "Many seem more at home with this kind of worship."

Rev Kobia also pointed out that in a few years, the bastion of the Christian Church in the 21st century will be on the continents of Africa and Asia due to "the decline of Christianity in Europe and North America ."

On the ecumenical front, he said the WCC has noticed that Christian Churches are moving towards a "loose platform" of working together, "forming alliances" based on "shared moral and cultural values." This, he felt, may be an emerging "model of ecumenism".

Rev Kobia outlined some of the key issues facing the world today, among them: the sense of insecurity and fear; senseless violence, especially to women and children; finding a national identity; inter-religious dialogue; and inter-generational issues.

Touching on the sense of insecurity and fear, he commented that the US was hated by some, but for the most part, the world's surviving "superpower" was resented for its international policies.

He said he was particularly concerned with the senseless violence in the world today. "It is a type of sickness human beings have acquired," he remarked.

The first part of Rev Kobia's talk to CCC staff, religious leaders and the media focussed on Africa - its contribution to Christianity, to world development, and its status today.

Before giving an ecumenical benediction, chair of the CCC 's Praesidium, president Rev Dr Lesley Anderson, gave closing remarks.

He said he was grateful for the relations with the WCC and was hopeful for a continuing "meaningful and sincere partnership". "We pray for you and your staff," said the Panamanian Methodist minister to Rev Kobia. He then thanked him for his "support and commitment to the Caribbean ."

Rev Kobia was presented with artwork depicting the steel band culture, as well as a book on the history of the steel pan.

The WCC general secretary left Trinidad the following day to continue his first Caribbean visit, bound for Cuba and Haiti.

Left to right, CCC president Bishop Donald Reece, WCC general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, CCC president and Praesidium chair Rev Dr Lesley Anderson and CCC general secretary Gerard Granado engaged in conversation.

Rev Dr Samuel Kobia and Marta Palma admire one of the gifts presented to Rev Kobia by the CCC.
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