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  – 24.02.2006

[Austria] Müller: Plenary Meeting of the World Council of Churches Lets People Experience Denominational Diversity

Integrational Work Happens primarily in Small Groups

Porto Alegre/Vienna, February 22nd, 2006 (epd Ö) – “Something we notice daily over here, is the enormous diversity of Christian life; not only the denominational, but also the geographical diversity offers an immense richness”, said Superintendent Luise Müller, who - together with Michael Bubik from the Evangelical Refugee Service - currently represents the Evangelical Church of Austria at the plenary meeting of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre (Brazil). This richness affected her work and “broadened her horizon” enormously, Müller says in an interview with Adalbert Krims from the religion department or the ORF radio station. Müller: “How I picture Christianity has been refined, last but not least via contacts with people, who let Christianity become palpable in completely different points.”
The superintendent spoke out critically against work in the different plenum groups. Integrational work, for instance in the strained relationship between the Protestant and Orthodox churches, happens primarily in small groups. At the daily Bible study, “we are very close”, says the Superintendent of the Diocese of Salzburg and Tyrol in the interview for “Religion Aktuell” and epd Ö. Here, the trust in each other increased as well as the willingness to appreciate other points of view. “The attempt to direct different denominational opinions into an integrational process happens at these places.” It remained to be seen, however, how the topic “Unity of the Church” was discussed at the plenary meeting.
On the main topic “Globalisation” the plenary meeting had “left a lot of helplessness behind” as well, Müller reports. Different points of view could not be made clear to each other; the learning effect of the “presentation” on the topic “Globalisation” was “very limited”. The various papers were evaluated very ambiguously at the hearings as well.
In Porto Alegre, representatives from over 340 Christian churches (with ca. 400 – 500 million believers globally) discuss until February 23rd. Under the motto “In Your Mercy, God, Transform the Earth”, the delegates want to debate more effective forms of uniting Christians of different denominations. Important issues are globalisation, economical justice, the overcoming of violence, and dialogue with other religions like Islam amongst other things. It is the first plenary meeting on Latin American soil. The panel only gets together every seven years. The Roman Catholic Church participates as observer.

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