WCC- This is a time of financial turmoil, and like so many other organizations, the WCC has been working to balance its budget for 2023 to plan work with contributions income at a level about CHF 1.8 million lower than budgeted in 2022. This situation is mainly brought about by the fluctuating currency rates. In response, the executive committee in November approved a transfer of CHF 700,000 from general reserves to programme funds.
WCC moderator Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm reflected on how the WCC is meeting a time of financial challenge in order to pave the way for a sustainable future. “This situation is mainly brought about by the fluctuating currency rates,” he said. “WCC member churches and partners have remained faithful in their contributions for which we are profoundly grateful, and they are also ready to keep their financial commitments for 2023.” He also highlighted the important contribution the WCC can make to the necessary global transformations: “We will be needed when the world struggles to give a strong response to climate change. We are encouraging all the churches in the world to engage in civil society activities, so that each country takes the necessary measures to really fight climate change. I am confident that we as churches can play an important role in this necessary transformation: “Facing so many problems only solvable on a global scale, the world needs the input of global civil society more than ever. As WCC we have a unique potential to be agents of such global civil society as we are rooted everywhere in the world in local communities and at the same time connected on a global scale and united in our universal horizon.”
Contributions from WCC member churches and partners have remained strong, allowing the WCC to raise a consistent level of funding, but the currency exchange rate has caused a net decrease. Although the WCC’s funds and reserves increased in the last three consecutive years, the WCC is under pressure because of adverse exchange rates.
Rev. Prof. Dr Neal D. Presa, moderator of the Finance Subcommittee of the WCC executive committee, reflected that, in the Advent season of hope, the WCC executive committee prudently adopted the 2023 budget and programme plans as they sought to be wise stewards of the WCC’s financial resources, express their strong support for the incoming leadership of general secretary-elect Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay and his leadership team, and lay a good foundation for the strategic planning process for 2024-2027.
“With these actions, we say to the 352 member churches, partner organizations, and supporters – thank you for your support and for the common ministry we share,” said Presa. “We also share the challenges of living in a time of COVID-19, a war in Ukraine, a climate crisis, and existential threats that abound, that have caused enormous, volatile market fluctuations that adversely affected currency exchange rates.”
The executive committee approved the composition of membership of the Jerusalem Liaison Office Advisory Group, and the group will now begin a new mandate. “It’s my last meeting with the governance, and there have been many difficult decisions taken related to planning and the budget,” said WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. “I’m grateful that we were able to conclude the work on the restructuring and strengthening of the Jerusalem Liaison Office (JLO) and establish the JLO advisory group.
The group is composed of five representatives of the local churches, one representative of the Middle East Council of Churches, one representative of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel International Reference Group, one representative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum Reference Group, two representatives of local Christian-based organizations, and the WCC programme executive for the Middle East region (ex officio).
The group includes: Archbishop Husam Naoum (moderator), Bishop William Shomali (co-moderator), Dr Audeh B. Quawas, Bishop Ibrahim Azar, Rev. Fr Koryoun Baghdasaryan, Fuad Giacaman, Mayada Tarazi, and Carla Khijoyan.
Finally, the WCC moderator expressed his great gratitude to the acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca for all his work for the WCC in so many years and the blessings that it has meant for so many people. “May he feel in his heart the love and the gratitude of the whole WCC community.”