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
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
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
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
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
Ecumenical sharing of resources will take place at all these three levels:
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
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
We will refuse cooperation when this discipline is explicitly being
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.