The World Council of Churches executive committee met virtually on 1-3 June 2020 due to the pandemic of COVID-19. The WCC executive committee announced its interim staff leadership roles on 3 June. Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca was confirmed as interim WCC general secretary; Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus appointed interim WCC deputy general secretary for Unity and Mission; and Doug Chial appointed interim director of the WCC Office of the General Secretariat. They will hold their posts until the WCC central committee meets in June 2021. Pedroso Mateus will continue to serve also as director of Faith and Order and Chial as responsible for the IMD. Pedroso Mateus and Chial were appointed by the WCC executive committee at an online meeting held on 3 June, on the recommendation of the interim general secretary. They will hold their posts until the WCC central committee meets in June 2021.
The WCC Staff Leadership Group is led by the interim general secretary, and in addition consists of the two deputy general secretaries and the interim director of the WCC Office of the General Secretariat. Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri continues as deputy general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia as before, as do the other previous members of the Staff Leadership Group, director of Finance Elaine Dykes, and director of Communication Marianne Ejdersten, in their present roles and mandates.
The executive committee, on behalf of the central committee of the World Council of Churches, has decided, in close consultation with the Evangelical Church in Germany and other host churches and local partners, to postpone the 11th assembly, originally planned for September 2021 in Karlsruhe, Germany, until 2022. The decision, announced on 3 June, was made because of the gravity and uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hoped that an assembly in 2022 will provide a better opportunity to secure the full participation of the ecumenical fellowship. The location in Karlsruhe will remain the same. The Orthodox pre-assembly will also be postponed to 2021.
The executive committee approved a revised budget 2020, in which no programme deficit is projected. Further, a revised capital expenditure limit has been approved, ensuring that the investment in the new IT system can take place, with the project to be launched this year. Discussions about the WCC budget centered around how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on what was planned for both 2020 and 2021.
The WCC executive committee released a public statement on the role of churches in the context of COVID-19. Focused on love, steadfastness, hope and courage, the statement reflects on the damage COVID has wreaked over the last five months —and how churches can offer hope.
The executive committee took time to reflect on the continuing unrest in the US, where protests continue in many cities in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Churches across the world are collectively expressing anger combined with a clarion call for a change—once and for all—in a nation that has tolerated violent racism for too long.
The next WCC executive committee meetings will be held online during July, and November. During 2021, the central committee meeting will be held 22-30 June, with the executive committee holding its meeting on 21-22 June.