||Recent debates on the role of Christian communication are being impacted by a communications statement released in May by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and the Korean Host Committee for the WCC 10th Assembly.
Called the Busan Statement and named after the Korean host city of the WCC 10th assembly in 2013, it focuses on the role of Christian communication to promote life, justice and peace. The statement contributes to the theme of the WCC’s upcoming 10th Assembly, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.
|WACC President, Dennis Smith presenting at the 1st International Congress of Faculdades EST in São Leopoldo. Photo: © WCC/Marcelo Schneider
But its impact has now moved beyond preparations for the assembly to discourse among Christian communicators around the world, such as a recent symposium in Brazil, called Eclesiocom.
“Ecumenism and Communications" was the theme of the seventh convocation of Eclesiocom, a symposium on Christian communications promoted by the Methodist University of São Paulo (UMESP) Brazil, on 23 August. The event was organized by WCC Central Committee member Dr Magali Nascimento Cunha.
The Faculty of Theology at UMESP is one of the few institutions in Brazil where communication is part of the curriculum offered to all students.
Dennis Smith, president of the WACC, was one of the main speakers at Eclesiocom. He used WACC’s concept paper on “Communication for All,” saying that “we have reduced communications to a mere tool, but communications is much more than that, namely the process of building meaning together.”
Smith referred to the role of Christian communications as opposing the logic of the dominant communications model used in secular society. Quoting from the “Busan statement,” Smith noted that “integrity of the journalistic enterprise has been compromised by media conglomerates and challenged by new forms of media. Some media workers, journalists included, have dared to lift up the concerns of the excluded and to interpret with insight how power flows today.”
On a similar theme, in the historic city of São Leopoldo, the 1st International Congress of Faculdades EST took place from 10 to 14 September, focusing on “Religion and Society: Contemporary Challenges. EST is one of the major Protestant institutions in Latin America, which brought together 14 thematic symposia to reflect on research from the Lutheran institution.
Around 330 theologians, researchers and students participated in São Leopoldo, analyzing the impact and potential impact of religions on public life. Again, the role of communications was at the center of the debate.
Smith was also invited to present his insights about the role of communications in today’s world. His presentation, “Reclaiming communications for the ecumenical movement: Building meaning for common good,” pointed to the alternate model of communication as an important tool to build “ethics of freedom and accountability.”
Both WACC and the WCC are advocating for communications to be considered as a basic human right. “We need to work to create a culture of participation and freedom, as opposed to silence and oppression,” said Smith. He continued to comment on the role of different platforms available to the ecumenical movement to communicate today. “It is of vital importance to have spaces in which we can tell our stories and where we can bring new actors to the news being told by other means of communication,” he concluded.
Read full text of the Busan statement
Official website of the WCC 10th Assembly