Maybe it’s the way my brain works, or should I say, the way my heart works. By far, the most moving moments of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Brazil have been in music, personal testimony, drama, and dance. Those are places where I am being convicted anew.

Tom Yonker is a young Disciple who has been on an internship with the WCC Faith and Order Commission. I haven’t yet met Tom, but I’m told he worked very closely with the worship committee to organize the music and other non-verbal acts of worship. I’m impressed.

The assembly choir fills the front of the worship tent and is equally comfortable with Latin American tunes as they are with Orthodox chants. Worshippers sing throughout the services as well. Worship begins and ends every day, by the way. This morning we sang and prayed that some day we might be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

Music, drama and dance fill the plenary sessions as well. On Saturday, after a particularly moving testimony from Olara Otunnu of Uganda, a dance troupe from New York’s Riverside Church performed the most incredible modern dance interpretation of the struggle of African Americans I have ever seen. And the Latin American plenary yesterday featured music from folk to salsa to indigenous to rock, all performed beatifully on the theme of the Assembly — God, in your grace, transform the world.

The high profile visitors are also leaving a mark on my heart — Nora de Cortinas who helped found the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina spoke yesterday. Desmond Tutu of South Africa speaks today. I was even moved by the deeply theological presentation of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Cantebury.

The most tears flowed, though when Otunnu testified to the atrocities occuring in his homeland of northern Uganda. 1,000 babies die every day in refugee camps. Soldiers terrorize children and rape women. The two Disciples delegates from Congo weeped. The atrocities in their country are even worse. Stopping poverty and war in Africa must become a priority for the world churches. I hope and pray that the assembly will make such a decision before they leave on Friday.

I’ve off to see Tutu. But have updates on the youth voice and the recommendation for common date for Easter, so…more later.

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