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