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El Escorial 1987

World Consultation on Sharing

Guidelines for Sharing

Out of abundant and outgoing love, God has created the world, and has given it to all humanity for faithful use and sharing. As recipients of God's gift of life, we are called to see the world through God's eyes, offering it in blessing through our own acts of love, sharing and appropriate use.

But, because of our sin and selfishness, we have misused God's gift. We have allowed the interests of a few to diminish the life of many. It has led to the rise of unjust structures which perpetuate dependence and poverty for the majority of the world's people. This surely is contrary to the purpose of God.

It is in the midst of this sinful reality that in Jesus Christ God offered God's very self for the life of the world. Jesus' self-emptying love on the cross leads us to repentance. It becomes the power and pattern of our sharing.

The presence of the Risen Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to break down barriers and renew structures, preparing for the coming of God's Kingdom of justice and peace.

The new life given by the Holy Spirit in Christ creates us as a new people members of one body, bearing one another's burdens and sharing together in God's gift of life for all.

In the Eucharist, we offer to God ourselves and the whole of creation in its brokeness, and receive all things back anew. The Eucharist sends us back into the world to be Christ's body, broken and shared for the life of the world.

As the first-fruits of the new humanity, the Church is called to stand in solidarity with all people, particularly with the poor and the oppressed, and to challenge the value systems of this world.

Having confidence in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, who alone through the Holy Spirit enables us to live in obedience to the Divine will, we, the participants in the World Consultation on Resource Sharing, coming from different regions, commit ourselves to a common discipline of sharing among all God's people.


In all such sharing we commit ourselves:

1. To a fundamentally new value system based on justice, peace and the integrity of creation. It will be a system that recognizes the rich resources of human communities, their cultural and spiritual contributions and the wealth of nature. It will be radically different from the value system on which the present economic and political orders are based and which lies behind the current crises like those of nuclear threat and industrial pollution.

2. To a new understanding of sharing in which those who have been marginalized by reason of sex, age, economic and political condition, ethnic origin and disability, and those who are homeless, refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants take their place at the centre of all decisions and actions as equal partners.

This means, for example, that

  • churches, councils and networks will establish for this purpose ecumenical mechanisms both nationally and regionally.
  • equitable representation will be provided for women and youth in decision making structures.

3. To identify with the poor and oppressed and their organized movements in the struggle for justice and human dignity in church and society. This in turn will imply the refusal to participate, either as giver or receiver, in ways of sharing that undermine this struggle.

4. To bear witness to the mission of God by identifying, exposing and confronting at all levels the root causes, and the structures of injustice which lead to the exploitation of the wealth and people of the third world and result in poverty and the destruction of creation. This entails working for a new economic and political order.
        This would mean, for example, that the churches of the North and the South commit themselves to strengthen and participate in the various anti-nuclear movements and to bring pressure upon their governments to stop nuclear testing and the dumping of nuclear waste. It will also mean joining with the people in their struggle against transnational corporations, militarism and foreign intervention and occupation.

5. To enable people to organize themselves and realize their potential and power as individuals and communities, working towards the kind of self-reliance and self-determination which are an essential condition of interdependence.

6. To be open to one another as friends on the basis of common commitment, mutual trust, confession and forgiveness, keeping one another informed of all plans and programmes and submitting ourselves to mutual accountability and correction.
       This implies, for example, the implementation of mutual accountability and participation in decision making between the South and the North.

7. To represent to one another our needs and problems in relationships where there are no absolute donors, or absolute recipients, but all have needs to be met and gifts to give, and to work for the structural changes in the institutions of the North and the South which this calls for.

8. To promote through words and deeds the holistic mission of the church in obedience to God's liberating will. We are convinced that in responding only to certain parts of the mission we distort and disrupt mission as a whole.

9. To participate in the struggles of people for justice, and thereby overcome all barriers between different faiths and ideologies which today divide the human family.
       This means, for example, churches in East and West making use of all opportunities to strengthen the process of detente and integrating the resources freed by this process for ecumenical sharing.

10. To resist international mechanisms (such as the International Monetary Fund/World Bank) which deprive the people of the South of their resources, transferring for example their hard-earned capital, which is more than the aid they receive, in payment of foreign debt thereby putting them in a state of perpetual dependence - contributing instead to a fundamental and just redistribution of the wealth and resources of a country including the wealth of its churches.

11. To devise ways of shifting the power to set priorities and terms for the use of resources to those who are wrongfully denied both the resources and the power, such as movements for social justice.
       This would imply that participation of the South in the decision making must not only be on a consultative basis as it is practised today.

12. To facilitate and encourage mutual involvement among the churches and people in the South who have common concerns, for example through the sharing of human resources.

13. To promote and strengthen ecumenical sharing at all levels, national, regional and international.


Ecumenical sharing of resources will take place at all these three levels:

  • local
  • national/regional
  • international/inter-regional

Relations between bodies at the three levels of sharing should be characterized by flexibility, complementarity and mutual power sharing.

All levels of implementation should recognize and work towards the goal of an equitable representation of 50% women and 20% youth in all decision-making structures over the next five years.

At the local level

The initiative to obtain resources from national and international agencies should, as far as possible, be taken by the local community.

In situations where local ecumenical groups and churches are not working together and where it prevents resource sharing, the process should be facilitated through local community action, and every effort made to encourage ecumenical cooperation among groups and churches.

At national and regional levels

Where national or regional mechanisms for resource sharing do not exist the need to set them up must be seen as a matter of urgency. Those mechanisms may consist of representatives of churches, ecumenical groups and those popular or people's movements which are involved in the struggle for justice, peace and full human development.

These bodies should constantly and critically examine their own composition and activities and the power structures inside and outside the church, in order to achieve a more just and equitable resource sharing. They should invite and facilitate both dialogue and critical assessment through visiting teams from the churches or groups with whom they share resources, to enhance mutuality and sharing of power. International agencies should take part in the activities of these bodies only when invited.

It is important to educate public opinion in all our countries regarding the structural causes of world economic disorder. This can be done in theological training centres, for example, with the help of witnesses from among partners in sharing.

The regional level is where methods for monitoring resource sharing can be most effectively established.

At the international level

International ecumenical resource sharing bodies must be based on equal representation of the partners involved. They should complement the national/regional and local decision-making bodies, for example through round table structures and through the sharing of all relevant information, including financial, of projects/programmes among the partners involved.

All Christian World Communions and ecumenical organizations are called on to take part in the ecumenical sharing of resources through the WOC and to adhere to the discipline emerging from this Consultation.

The WCC is called to a better integration of existing units and submits of the Council, and as far as possible, to co-ordinate the channelling of its resources through existing networks.

It is recommended that the WCC set up a mechanism to follow up the implementation of the discipline emerging from this Consultation.

We will follow this discipline ourselves. We will try to create a climate in which it is understood and welcomed. We will challenge our churches, their peoples and their agencies to accept it.

We will urge acceptance of this discipline beyond the membership of the WCC.

We will refuse cooperation when this discipline is explicitly being rejected.

We will create opportunities to develop new ecumenical partnerships to enable churches of different traditions and contexts to enrich one another.

We will support one another in our commitment. We undertake to give an account to each other and so to God, of the ways in which we have turned our words into deeds, within a period of three years.

El Escorial, 24.-31. October 1987, WCC, Geneva. Published 1988.


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