World Council of Churches: Snapshot Moment

Dr. Mark Taylor posting live from South Korea:

Funny story. I was sitting in a foyer reading the essay Michael Kinnamon presented before an international, ecumenical group of theology students here at the assembly when a member of the Armenian Orthodox Church asked me to take a photograph of their entire delegation – at least a dozen bishops and priests clad in black with distinctive pointed hoods. Most pressure-packed moment of the assembly for me yet. I didn’t want to mess up. It was like herding cats to get them all in a semi-circle looking at the camera at the same time. Impossible to get most of them to smile. But then three more cameras magically appeared and it all happened again and again and again.

~ Dr. Mark Lloyd Taylor

Faculty Reflections

World Council of Churches: A Small-Big Gathering

Dr. Mark Taylor posting live from South Korea:

The World Council of Churches General Assembly is big! Think a United Nations of churches and Christians. 5,000 or so participating. Greetings read from Pope Francis and from Ignatius, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Greetings from the Korean government delivered in person by Prime Minister Chung on behalf of President Park.

But the assembly is also small. I sat this morning with two Scotswomen, a Japanese man, and a Swedish woman in a Bible study. We discussed the first portion of Genesis 2 in its context and from our personal, theological, and cultural contexts. We noted that while the creation story in Genesis 1 is about separation (light from darkness, dry land from water), the one in Genesis 2 is about weaving things together. In Genesis 1 human beings are to rule the rest of the world; in Genesis 2, they are to tend the garden.

We were asked what this all might mean in terms of encouraging and protecting life in our “home” settings. My thought: How quickly for privileged North Americans, “tending” can become “dominating.” How quick we are to plow, fence, grade (degrade) the earth. We live so disconnected from the rest of creation – not woven together, as if we were the only life that counted. We are so pro-active in shaping the world to our needs and wants. Maybe before “tending” the garden, I (we) need to “attend” more: look at the world, listen to the earth, water and air/spirit of Genesis 2 let them just be, unadulterated by human desire. For the story in Genesis 2 is bottom up, not top down. The dry ground is watered by a mist that rises up from below. The first human is shaped from the very ground itself. “God of life, lead us to justice and peace” (the assembly theme), from the ground up.

~ Dr. Mark Lloyd Taylor

Faculty Reflections World Council of Churches 2013

Opening Worship at World Council of Churches

From Dr. Mark L. Taylor, posting live from South Korea:

“Just experienced opening worship at the World Council of Churches General Assembly in Busan, South Korea.  Early warning, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry folk, I’ll be bringing lots of resources back with me.

Highlights of opening worship:

  • Hearing the Emmaus road story from Luke 24 chanted in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
  • Meeting a new friend, Kim Okkee, pastor of a Korean PC(USA) congregation in Houston, TX.
  • Homily by the Armenian Patriarch H.H. Karekin II. Based in a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ and resistant to many of the socially inclusive values we hold around STM. Makes we wonder how we find language to speak of our social justice work and advocacy as love of Jesus?”

~ Dr. Mark Lloyd Taylor

Faculty Reflections World Council of Churches 2013