Workshop at ACT Alliance assembly focuses on 'diakonia'

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When we talk about assets-based ‘diakonia’, we mean building and strengthening fellowship among churches and their ecumenical partners,” said Rev. Dr Dongsung Kim, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for diakonia and ecumenical solidarity, in a workshop at the 2nd General Assembly of the ACT Alliance, underway from 20 to 24 October in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic.


Diakonia is the Greek term used in the New Testament to describe Christian ministries of care and service, mission and support. It is the source of theWorkshop at ACT Alliance assembly focuses on 'diakonia' English words “deacon” and “diaconal”.


“An assets-based diakonia would work as a crucial tool of welcoming the different gifts, skills and contributions from all levels in the ecumenical cooperation, including from the members of the congregations around the world,” said Kim.


“Exploring assets we have as ecumenical partners in diakonia is actually questioning how we can contribute to more robust ecumenical relationships,” Kim said.


The objective behind this activity was to stress the need for strong relationships between churches and specialized ministries. The workshop was coordinated by Kim and Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC associate general secretary, reflecting on diakonia as a key element in church relations.


The ACT Alliance, a partner organization of the WCC, has some 140 churches and affiliated organizations working in 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalized people through humanitarian and development projects.


The workshop focused on the “assets-based approach to diakonia” as part of the discussions held at the assembly titled “join hands sessions”. The dialogue among participants focused on opportunities to share, learn and study new ideas while working for concerns significant for churches and societies. The participants included representatives of communities, groups and networks of ecumenical bodies.


In his remarks, Kim went on to say that “diakonia is an essential part of being a church and mission of the church.” He explained, “The concept of ecumenical diakonia of the WCC is not simply of service, but of taking on a transformative role. We are called to transform society.”


Through an assets-based approach to diakonia at the congregational level, it is possible to turn communities into agents of change and transformation, he said.


While the workshop was meant to suggest ways of making the ACT Alliance an even more robust body, it also discussed issues related to humanitarian work, advocacy and development.


Source: oikoumene.org (Oct. 24, 2014)