Opening Address to the World Council of Churches

Opening Address to the World Council of Churches  (1971) 
by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press

Mr. Chairman, Eminences and Distinguished Members of the Central Committee,

It is with feelings of great spiritual and personal happiness that We witness the convening of this meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Our capital city.

This is particularly so as it is more timely than ever for followers of Christ to gather to deliberate on current vital issues affecting international peace and justice.

Man's egoistic motives and his selfish desire to pursue exclusively his own individual interests, thus failing in his God-given task of following the goal of the unity of all, is witness to the feebleness of human nature, and constitutes the major obstacle to the unity of all Christians towards which we strive.

How long will we, who are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, who are taught by the same Holy Bible, continue to remain divided amongst ourselves?

Realizing that the time has come for the Church of Christ, divided for many centuries up till now, to come together in unity and work together, it is imperative for all of us to strive together, in accordance with the words of the Apostle, Ephesians, Chapter 4, verses 5 and 6 to clear the way and open it up for the realization of unity. Each church and all churches have the obligation, derived from their covenant with God, to proclaim the Gospel, to make disciples of all nations and thus to make the faith grow and bear fruit.

We Christians living by the faith of Christ, the Head and Pillar on whom the Church is founded, cannot escape the responsibility to work for the peace of the world, and to ensure equality for all human beings created by God, lest we fail in our duty by being mere passive witnesses to the gruesome spectacle of human beings, created in the image of God, being deprived by virtue of their color or their poverty, of the benefits and blessings that are the birthright of every man and all men, and suffering in agony, cast forth from the pale of full human existence.

Man does not live by bread alone. The spiritual life does not deny, however, the need for bread. Therefore, the spiritual life of humanity must necessarily include the common aspiration of all of us for a better standard of living and for greater improvement in the quality of human existence.

May God our Creator, the Helper and guiding Light of us all, grant you His wisdom that your meeting may bear fruit for His glory. We sincerely wish you all success and pray that God may lead you to that unity which Christians all over the world eagerly await.

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