Assembly comms reunion

WCC director of Communication Marianne Ejdersten opened the reunion by asking communicators from across the world: What do you take in your heart when you remember the WCC 11th Assembly?”

Jack Nasar, from Ramallah, Palestine, shared memories of his appreciation for such a gathering of different Christian denominations from around the world. How rich and how beautiful it was,” he said.

Trina Gallop, from Canada, who served as a writer on the business news team, said what stayed in her heart was being able to connect so fully with the wider work within the WCC, and to get to know colleagues who work in the same mission and ministry that I do."

Paul Jeffrey, from the US, a features photographer, recalled the competency of my colleagues, the faces I see here. Working with all of you was fun—and an adventure.”

Stephen Padre, also from the US, who served as a remote writer for the business news team, reflected: It was fun to be connected to that big family reunion of Christians from around the world.”

Gladwell Rurinja, from Kenya, recalled the assembly’s diversity and warmth. I think the communications team was one big family,” she said. 

Rev. Klaus Rieth, from Germany, who served on the media relations team, expressed his joy at how well the communicators worked together. Deep in my heart was the willingness of all of us,” he said. Everybody wanted to make it a success. In the end, it worked and that’s very deep in my heart and I’m glad for it,” he said.

Rev. Jane Stranz, from France, fondly remembered her time on the 19th floor in the press office. Really I take in my heart that we became greater than the sum of our parts,” she said. It was a great experience.”

Rev. Margarithe Veen, from the Netherlands, who worked in the Networking Zone, said she still remembers the sheer joy. It is still inside of me, all those people who came to the Networking Zone and were so happy to be there—a lot of joy and blessings,” she said. To me, so many people were just open to each other, caring for each other.”

WCC 11th assembly comms team

Members of the WCC 11th Assembly communication team pose for a photo at the end of the event, held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September 2022.


Stepping into the future

Ejdersten shared the goal of WCC communications of lifting the profile of the WCC for fellowship and relevant engagement. She also offered an overview of how the Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity serves as a foundation for the WCC’s programmatic work. 

Communicators then had a discussion about artificial intelligence—how they use it and their concerns. 

Sara Speicher, deputy general secretary of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and also a WCC communications officer, spoke on issues of digital justice and artificial intelligence. 

AI is a tool that can be used—but like all tools, we need to use it correctly,” said Speicher. She offered four guidelines, while advising each organization develop its own specific guidelines: Be respectful, be transparent, be truthful, and be wise,” she said. 

Together, WACC and the WCC, along with the Association of Protestant Churches in Germany (EMW) will soon release a self-directed course, entitled “Just Digital: Big Issues in Small Bytes,” which goes through key issues related to digital justice, including artificial intelligence.

Albin Hillert, from Sweden, who served on the features photography team during the assembly, brought up the concern of accountability related to AI and images. If we lose the connection between what we express visually, what we share visually, with the actual event, there’s a risk we go astray,” he said. 

Sean Hawkey, from the UK and Ireland, who served as a business news photographer, shared a written presentation on AI. With algorithms, despite there being many more images, we are getting fed what the algorithm knows we like, and we see a narrower view of the world,” he noted. So, we are at a unique new point in history, where I believe all this context is important, where photojournalism is devalued, where low-quality citizen journalism is abundant, where news values and editorial standards are losing to algorithms, and we in a political environment where the truth doesn’t matter as much as it used to.”

As the communicators absorbed the opinions, wisdom, resources, and even their own AI-generated summaries of the reunion, they also planned to reunite again in the fall. 

Ejdersten thanked the speakers and all the participants who filled the chat with lively commentary, for being present with their minds and hearts. Try to keep the balance between work and life, or studies and life, and keep the ecumenical movement on your agenda—we need you very, very much in different capacities,” she concluded. 

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