by Verity A. Jones

Thousands of people have traveled thousands of miles to Porto Alegre, Brazil to attend the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. It took my little group of four almost 24 hours to get here from Indianapolis. We met up with the rest of the Disciples upon arrival. All in all, we have 30 Disciples here. Only three are delegates, plus one advisor, one press (me!), and one rep from the Disciples in Canada. All the others are visitors, ranging in age from 22 to 80. It’s quite a display of Disciples diversity.

Actually, it might be better to say that this group of Disciples represents a hopeful future for the church–half of the group is under the age of 30. Ah, that half of all Disciples in the US and Canada were under the age of 30! In any case, they are great fun to hang out with.

The assembly officially got underway this morning, though the four pre-events–on women, youth, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilies–were quite something, I’m told. I will be send news stories for posting on beginning this evening. Hopefully, I can keep up. This pastor turned journalist is still learning things like press room etiquette and how to be agressive enough to get an interview with some of the major personalities.

The major issues to watch will be how the WCC is addressing globalization, poverty, interfaith dialogue, and how the WCC is expanding its table to include more Christian communions from around the world. The mutiroa, which is the visitors program of workshops and celebrations, will be very interesting (more so than plenary sessions, I’m sure!). Of course, elections will be exciting… And at this meeting the WCC will set its program agenda for the next seven to eight years.

The city of Porto Alegre is beautiful, the weather is perfect, the music is outstanding. Already the assembly is enjoying the sounds of Brazil and Africa. And you can’t beat the slower pace of life in South America. More later….