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2.3 An act of covenanting


Entering into Covenant Solidarity

Introduction

1. We have made the foregoing affirmations in responding anew to God's covenant. They represent the basic direction which the Christian commitment to JPIC is to follow. Yet our response to God's covenant must go beyond the general renewal of commitment which is part of these affirmations. It must lead to concrete action out of renewed faithfulness to the covenant.

2. The following "Act of Covenanting" provides examples of such faithful action which is required today if the brokenness and violation of life and the division of our communities is to be healed. They translate the response to God's covenant into acts of mutual commitment within the covenant community. The building of links of solidarity around specific issues and concerns, of networks of communication and support, is the most urgent priority for action today. This underlines the fact that the human response to God's covenant is a corporate act.

3. The cause and consequences of injustice, violence and the destruction of the environment are intertwined. They affect people in an interconnected way. Therefore our form of action should also reflect this interconnection. This is one important aspect of the covenant solidarity into which we enter. The second aspect is this: our covenant solidarity is turned towards God in repentance and obedience and turned towards suffering people and the suffering environment, so that it may be said that a real test of our covenant solidarity is the way in which we hold ourselves accountable to the poor and oppressed as well as to the whole of creation.

4. The three entry points of justice, peace and the integrity of creation into the one struggle have to take into account the fact that poverty, lack of peace and the degradation of the environment are manifestations of the many dimensions of suffering which have at their root the over-arching structures of domination, i.e. racism, sexism, casteism and classism, which are evident in all situations of suffering in diverse and insidious forms. Therefore, as we project a common vision of hope as the basis for our actions in combating these issues, we should take seriously into account the perspectives of the racially oppressed and culturally dominated as well as other types of analysis, such as feminist perspectives on the causes and effects of poverty, violence and the misuse of creation.

5. Four areas have been selected for this specific "Act of Covenanting" as examples of the urgent corporate action that is required today. They express concrete commitments to work:

  • for a just economic order and for liberation from the bondage of the foreign debt;
  • for the true security of all nations and people;
  • for building a culture that can live in harmony with creation's integrity;
  • for the eradication of racism and discrimination on national and international levels for all people.

6. These four areas have been chosen because they are world-wide issues and are clearly interconnected both in their origins and in their manifestations. All four issues demand urgent action if the concerns of justice, peace and the integrity of creation are to be addressed in a concrete way at this time of crisis. They are, however, in no way exhaustive of our response to God's covenant or of our affirmation of our covenant solidarity. At the heart of our collective effort is the need to recognize the barriers and forms of oppression which divide us and to work for the complete eradication of racism and sexism in all our societies.

7. The fourfold act of covenanting represents a commitment which the delegates to the World Convocation on JPIC have accepted in solidarity with one another. We have solemnly confirmed this commitment before God in the closing liturgical celebration of the convocation. We have thereby placed our act of covenanting in the framework of God's covenant. However, this covenanting action is not an end in itself. Rather, it is meant as the beginning of a process opening out beyond the participants in the convocation to the Christian churches, congregations and movements and even further to all people struggling for justice, peace and the integrity of creation, whatever their religious or ideological convictions. This act of covenanting therefore constitutes an open invitation to enter into this network of mutual commitments for action.

8. In this process of reception and confirmation, the directions for action have to be adapted to the given circumstances which may lead to modifications. What is important is the interconnectedness and mutuality of the action, not the identity of the ways of acting. The act offered here is an example which provides a framework. Other covenants with a more specific scope have already taken shape at the convocation and have been witnessed in the closing celebration.

9. The emerging ecumenical network of solidarity links does need a certain support structure. This convocation looks to the WCC to provide the instrumentalities which are needed in order to maintain and extend this process. The WCC has grown out of an act of covenanting among the churches at the First Assembly in 1948. It has described its calling as a "committed fellowship". These acts of covenanting therefore conclude with an appeal to the WCC officially to make its own this ecumenical process of covenanting for JPIC, and at its forthcoming Seventh Assembly to assure its continuation.

One urgent request in this regard is the occasion of the 500th anniversary celebrations of the colonisation of the Americas. The WCC should take up this complex issue and do substantial work on it so that an appropriate statement and a possible covenant may be prepared by the next session of the Central Committee of the WCC for the General Assembly of WCC in Canberra 1991.


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