"Not just words"
(from the minutes of an after-session of the organising caucus on 5 February 1996)
In reflection on the WCC Consultation with African and African Caribbean Church leaders in Britain, the following observations were made:
1 There was a sense of togetherness or encouragement (versus the Elijah syndrome) which gave a foretaste of what could come.
2 The event succeeded in crossing two barriers:
- between Western origin churches with all their suspicions and the independent churches;
- between the WCC and African and African Caribbean independent churches.
3 The consultation gave a useful insight into the structures of the WCC which were hitherto unknown to the Black Christian community.
4 The Black majority churches demonstrated that they are gaining strength and aiming at working together more closely.
6 The consultation was not a membership campaign, but it poses the question to us:
Would we want to join? And if so, under which conditions? Where does the interest of WCC lie? What are its motivations?
The continued dialogue with WCC is desired; but it must result in actions, not just talk:
1 Output of literature on Black majority churches
2 Improved network of communication
3 Development of programmes of consultation with groups which are not members (Evangelicals, Pentecostals) for both further dialogue and further representation, eg in the field of education (promotion of 'learning packages'). This would add to WCC's credibility as they would be in contact with the fastest growing Christian churches.
4 Dialogue and 'partnership in learning' are not talking niceties, but actually giving time and space in representative assemblies and programmes = from dialogue to involvement! Since Black majority churches are not identifiable as one organisation, perhaps ten spaces should be allocated for representatives to present their respective agendas.
From there the formation of a Black Annual Church Leaders Conference was discussed, including the involvement of diverse organisations in the North/South, Evangelical/Ecumenical, and African/African Caribbean divides, for Togetherness within Britain, not with a view to WCC. As there are certain cultural issues involved, inviting Asian Christians would entirely depend on the given agenda.