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WCC 9th Assembly: a time of encounter, prayer, celebration and deliberation

The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches met in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 14 - 23 February 2006, addressing the theme "God, in your grace, transform the world". The Assembly was a time of encounter, prayer, celebration and deliberation for thousands of Christian women and men from around the world.

The Assembly was invited to Brazil by the WCC's Brazilian member churches and the Brazilian National Council of Christian Churches (CONIC). The venue for the event was the CEPUC, the Events Center of the Pontifical University of Rio Grande do Sul.

Welcome letter from WCC general secretary

Porto Alegre is the largest city in southern Brazil with a population of 1.5 million people. It has become a leading centre of culture and education and, more recently, the host of the World Social Forum, of popular democracy and participation.

The Assembly is the "supreme legislative body" of the WCC, and meets every seven years. The formal purpose of the Assembly is to review programmes and determine the overall policies of the WCC, as well as to elect presidents and appoint a Central Committee which serves as the chief governing body of the WCC until the next assembly. In Porto Alegre, over 700 delegates and their advisors, representing over 340 member churches of the WCC, carried out their work in a programme that included prayer, Bible study, thematic plenary sessions, hearings and committee work.

Alongside the committee work and business sessions for the delegates, the Assembly was also a time of celebration and sharing for the many thousands of other visitors at the event. A highlight of the 9th Assembly was the ecumenical partnership programme or "Mutirão" - a Portuguese word which means coming together, celebrating together, reflecting together. It was precisely for this reason that the WCC provided a space that was open to a wide range of churches, ecumenical organizations and groups from around the world. The daily programme of the "Mutirão" included a range of presentations, exhibitions and discussions open to all Assembly participants.

A central element of the Assembly for all participants was the worship life, where the community gathered for prayer and meditation, drawing on the diverse spiritual experience of the churches around the world.

The preparatory work for the 9th Assembly was conducted by the Assembly Planning Committee (APC) and the Assembly Worship Committee (AWC), under the supervision of the WCC Central Committee. These committees met regularly during the period leading up to the Assembly. The event was coordinated by an Assembly Office in Geneva, and by a local coordinator based in Porto Alegre.