The closing prayer of the WCC executive committee was held at the Episcopal Conference of Colombia.


WCC moderator Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said that, the executive meeting in Colombia was an inspiring experience. In our intense encounters and conversations around the Colombian peace process we could see how the church can be salt of the earth and light of the world, encouraging the conflict parties in their quest for overcoming violence,” he said. Many of our conversation partners in politics and civil society emphasized the important role of the WCC in accompanying the peace process. The executive committee itself showed how our common faith makes a difference. All public statements on very controversial issues like the Gaza war, were in the end adopted in consensus.”

WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay said the executive committee meeting in Bogota was a marvelous immersion experience in the Colombian context. 

It was good to listen to insights from multiple sectors including church leaders, ecumenical organisations, political and government leaders, and other groups, and people involved in the peace processes in the country,” he said. We enjoyed praying with different churches through the week, listening to the stories of life in Colombia and being co-pilgrims with our sisters and brothers in Colombia.”

Pillay added: It was an experience we will remember and a journey we will continue with the people in this country. We attended to WCC business and dialogued on many other situations in the world, issuing statements on some of these, such as, Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine, COP 29,  etc. We thank God for a very inspiring and successful executive committee meeting.”

Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley, vice-moderator of the WCC central committee, viewed the meeting in Colombia as a reaffirmation of the practical and transformative impact of the WCC on the lived realities of people across the world. 

“I was struck by the many testimonies from individuals and organizations about the role of the WCC in empowering, accompanying, and enabling, particularly in the peace process and along the ecumenical journey,” she said. “As far as is possible, we should continue to ensure that our meetings include practical encounters since we, the members of the executive committee, are also transformed by these experiences.” 

H.E. Archbishop Dr Vicken Aykazian, vice moderator of the WCC central committee, expressed his thanks and gratitude to the Colombian hosts. “What the World Council of Churches did, I have never in my life seen such a meeting where the church brings civil society, the government, and church and religious leaders together, which is not only extremely helpful for the people here but an example for the entire world,” he said. “As I have been saying always, that WCC is the voice of the voiceless, therefore it’s our moral responsibility to try to bring peace everywhere that there is violence.”

Aykazian also expressed appreciation for the participation of women, who have been vital on the path to peace.

“We have also had some statements that are very important, mainly about those countries that have problems like Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine,” he said. 

Even before the meeting—which ran from 6-11 June—officially began, a social dialogue on 5 June drew 700 people who expressed their wish to be co-pilgrims in Colombias pursuit of total peace. 

Organized by Lilia Clemencia Solano Ramirez—who is the Colombian deputy minister for Social Dialogue, Equality, and Human Rights—the gathering provided a forum for 30 religious and community leaders to talk about justice and reconciliation.

Pillay was among the speakers. “The WCC recognises that peace is not just the absence of war but much more than that,” he said. 


On 10 June, the WCC executive committee attended morning prayer at San Pablo cathedral, of the Episcopal Church in Colombia.


Walking, working, praying 

As the meeting opened on 6 June, in an address to the WCC executive committee, Bedford-Strohm underscored the deep meaning of meeting in Colombia, as well as why churches must bring hope to the struggles of the world.

When the WCC received an invitation from the Colombian churches and the government to hold the executive committee meeting in Bogota, it was soon clear the WCC would accept this invitation, explained Bedford-Strohm.

Our visit takes place during a time that the Colombian government, churches, and people are collaborating in the design, implementation, and advocacy for the construction of peace in the country,” he said.

Offering a comprehensive report of the World Council of Churches’ work to the executive committee, Pillay expressed appreciation for the Colombian context, and determination that the WCC will remain unified even in a world rife with challenges. 

Since the WCC executive committees last meeting, in November 2023 in Nigeria, the World Council of Churches has continued to walk, work, and pray on its Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity,” said Pillay. “It has progressively implemented its 2023-2030 Strategic Plan through programmatic initiatives, consultations, and appointments.”

Focusing on life and witness of churches

The governing body focused not only on the business of the WCC but also on absorbing the life and witness of churches at the heart of the Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity.

The executive committee met at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia and in support of the churches’ involvement in peace-building and reconciliation. The programme included discussion, visits, and celebrations with churches, communities, and the government to learn more about the work for total peace in Colombia. 

The reason for our intuitive agreement to bring the WCC executive committee to Colombia is part of our mission as WCC,” said Bedford-Strohm. “We acknowledge the important role churches are playing in the peace process and we feel a great readiness to do whatever we can to support all those who are engaged in overcoming conflict and violence.” 

In 2023, the WCC, with the Colombian Episcopal Conference, United Nations Mission in Colombia, and Organization of American States, has been appointed as a permanent accompanier for peace talks with the Estado Mayor Central (EMC) FARC-EP.


The Colombian Ministry of Interior, through office of the Deputy Minister for Social Dialogue, Equality and Human Rights, hosted a session at Hotel Tequendama, Bogota, on the importance of international engagement for peace-building and social cohesion.


Statements on worlds grave challenges

The WCC executive committee released four statements and one minute. 


The executive committee, in a statement on the peace process in Colombia, emphasized “violence cannot bring sustainable peace to Colombia, and cannot produce positive results for the benefit of the civilian population.”

The governing body called upon the Colombian government and all armed actors “to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.”

The statement called upon all armed groups in Colombia “to desist from kidnapping, and from the recruitment of minors.”


In a statement about Sudan, the executive committee lifted up especially vulnerable women, children, and marginalized minority groups in the midst of the war.

The WCC governing body denounced the conflict parties’ repeated disregard for principles of international humanitarian, human rights, and criminal law and of common morality as evidenced by the nature of atrocities committed.  

The statement called for “full legal accountability for all crimes committed” and highlighted the psychological toll on people, especially children, resulting from this ongoing conflict and its impacts.” 


A statement called upon "all parties involved to immediately commit to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, to ensure unhindered humanitarian access from all borders and the delivery of sufficient quantities of aid to all those who need it, and to engage in meaningful political processes that allow the peoples of the region to live in peace and dignity.” 

The statement notes the death toll now surpasses 36,000 people, over two-thirds of them children and women; more than 83% of the population displaced; and the complete destruction of civilian infrastructure. 


As two major global environmental conferences are scheduled to take place later this year—the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cali, Colombia and the UN Climate Conference in Baku, Azerbaijan—the executive committee released a statement noting that the systems needed for life to flourish are at extreme risk. 

The statement commended the government of Colombia for combating deforestation and biodiversity loss, and for endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. It also called upon churches to learn from Indigenous spiritualities and practices that safeguard biodiversity and climate. 


In a minute on the escalation of the war in Ukraine, the minute reads: We are appalled by the terrible toll in lives lost, livelihoods and communities destroyed, environmental harm, and wider conflict risks resulting from this war, and call for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, an end to the invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory, and the re-establishment of peace in the region,” reads the text.

Planning for 2025

The business agenda of the executive committee included also the regular business of the executive committee meeting, including receiving 2023 narrative programme reports and audited financial reports, monitoring the implementation of WCC strategies, 2024 plans and budget and planning for 2025.  The agenda included also membership matters, monitoring of the communication strategy, and the Green Village property development project. 

2025 – An Ecumenical Year on the Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity

In seeking to renew the quest for unity of the churches and of all humanity, the WCC and the wider ecumenical fellowship find inspiration in two major anniversaries that fall in 2025, the 1700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 and the 100th anniversary of the Universal Christian Conference on Life and Work in Stockholm in 1925.

New working group on Palestine and Israel 

A new working group  was established  for further consultation on the WCC 11th Assembly statement Seeking Justice and Peace for All in the Middle East.” The purpose of the working group is to advise the general secretary on how best to address issues that the assembly called for further reflection on, namely the apartheid” designation of Israel and its implications for the WCC's overall position on Palestine and Israel. The working group will present the first report to the general secretary in September for further reflection by the executive committee in November 2024 in Cyprus. 

Governance meetings in 2025

On behalf of the central committee, the executive committee accepted the invitation from the churches in South Africa and to continue planning the 70th meeting of the central committee in Johannesburg, South Africa, 18-24 June 2025 and the invitation from the China Christian Council to meet in China, 19-25 November 2025.


Lilia Solano, Deputy Minister for Social Dialogue, Equality and Human Rights, addressed the WCC executive committee meeting and received words of appreciation and gratitude by the WCC leadership.