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To all participants in the World Council of Churches 9th Assembly

Dear Participants,

On behalf of the fellowship of churches, welcome to the process of preparing for and praying towards the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

As you are aware, the Assembly will take place in Porto Alegre, Brazil under the theme "God, in your grace, transform the world". The theme will lead us in prayer as well as inform our deliberation on issues such as the future of the ecumenical movement, our commitment to economic justice, our witness to overcoming violence and the challenges we face in the midst of religious plurality.

Assemblies are often turning points in the life of the World Council and this Assembly will surely leave its mark on ecumenical history.

This will be the first Assembly to take place in Latin America. The testimonies of the churches and the challenges faced by the societies throughout the continent will inform our work in Brazil. Having visited the region at the close of 2004, I witnessed a great hope for political and economic renewal as so many people attempt to heal the wounds of decades of military rule. Likewise, the ecumenical journey of the Protestant, Pentecostal and Catholic churches in Latin America should inspire churches elsewhere to envision new ecumenical horizons.

The Assembly will also be marked by a coming of age within the membership of the World Council. Based on the advice of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation, delegates will embark on a journey of consensus-model decision-making, seeking new ways to come to agreement on important statements and actions by the Assembly. Similarly, the past years' discussion on ‘ecumenism in the twenty-first century' indicates that shared commitments, rather than common membership, will be the hallmark of our ecumenical future.

It is my hope that this Assembly will gather more young people than any past World Council event. As we have prepared the Assembly, we have sought to strengthen the participation of young adults, recognizing that the future of our movement depends significantly on their leadership.

The Assembly Office will keep you up to date on practical arrangements as well as matters related to the programme of the Assembly. We look forward to welcoming you to the Assembly.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary