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R. McComish: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


The following is an outline of notes of the remarks Rev. Dr. William McComish gave at the World Clergy Leadership Conference Assembly.

In haste!

1. Clergy have three important directions: the first is our personal faith, the second is our community and the third is the outside world. If one of these directions are missing then you are not really fulfilling your role as clergy, certainly not fulfilling your role as a leader. You must have personal faith; you must have a relationship to a particular community; you must reach out to the outside world, with a message; you must have a capacity to offer values to the wider community. These three elements are essential.

2. The roles of clergy are preaching the Word and administration of the sacraments.

3. There were no clergy in the early church but there were a multiplicity of roles in the New Testament. When the Roman Empire became Christian, the clergy becomes a profession.

4. The main role of today’s priest is intermediary and today’s minister is teacher.

5. There are many interpretations of the Word, such as by the Marcion of Sinope and Philip Melanchthon, and not all text is of equal value. The Bible is or contains the Word.

6. The tone of internal disputes should be more important than the dispute itself. Internal disagreements must not weaken a message to the world.

7. Clergy lead the community in relation to other groups and they also lead internally, on charity, toleration, justice, human rights, dialogue, social justice, ecology, peace and so forth.

8. In order to represent our views to the world, we need moral courage! Against tyranny, as Martin Niemoller and Deitrich Bonhoeffer did. The heritage of the Old Testament prophets Nathan, Isaiah and Jeremiah is the basis of social justice. This is the prophetic role of clergy, but we have become too “safe,” too soft, too conventional and too respectful of power. If we are the successors of the prophets that denounced Ahab and David, why do we not say more about modern racists, liars and dictators? 

9. The Geneva Spiritual Appeal reads:

  1. Because our personal convictions or the religions to which we owe allegiance have in common a respect for the integrity of humankind.
  2. Because our personal convictions or the religions to which we owe allegiance have in common a rejection of hatred and violence.
  3. Because our personal convictions or the religions to which we owe allegiance have in common the hope for a better and more just world.
  4. Representing religious communities and civil society, we appeal to the leaders of this world, whatever their field of influence, to strictly adhere to the following three principles:
    1. A refusal to invoke a religious or spiritual power to justify violence of any kind.
    2. A refusal to invoke a religious or spiritual source to justify discrimination and exclusion.
    3. A refusal to exploit or dominate others by means of strength, intellectual capacity or spiritual persuasion, wealth or social status.
  5. Grounded in the Genevan tradition of welcome, refuge and compassion, our Appeal is open to all whose convictions are in accordance with these three demands.



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To go to the World Summit 2020 Schedule page, click here.