Pearson, Thangaraj named to WCC Worship Committee

The Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) recently appointed two Candler School of Theology faculty members to its Assembly Worship Committee. Helen Pearson, dean of community life, and Thomas Thangaraj, associate professor of world Christianity, are two of the 18 members of the Assembly Worship Committee who will be responsible for planning and implementing all worship experiences during the Eighth Assembly of the WCC, to be held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998.

Pearson, who represents Protestants in the United States, describes her role within the Assembly Worship Committee as "an opportunity to use my imagination and creativity along with traditional Protestant values in order to bring alive the sentiments of local U.S. churches." Furthermore, "I want to be sensitive to what we (the Assembly Worship Committee) can do to make a home for all faiths. I don't want the `superior' American attitude to shine; I only want to bring the gifts from my faith to the committee," Pearson said.

Thangaraj, who represents the Church of South India which includes the Epis-copalian, Methodist, Presbyter-ian and Congregational denominations, is a minister and has written hymns that are included in the Church of South India's prayer book. In terms of his role within the Assembly Worship Committee, Thangaraj wants to represent India by "trying to achieve liturgy which is spiritually inclusive to all faiths as well as suggesting music and songs which may enhance this spiritual inclusiveness."

On a larger scale, the World Council of Churches "holds no administrative or doctoral power," Thangaraj said, "but continues to make quite a bit of suggestions to formal religious and political bodies around the world, including the United Nations." Pearson hopes that her involvement on the Assembly Worship Committee will "help further the WCC's dedication to world peace and the reduction of hunger and over population."

"In short," Thangaraj said, "the Council of Churches is not one church, but an ongoing conversation among churches, with joint action as a key element."

"It is very unusual for two people to be appointed to the council from the same seminary, but I am delighted for Thomas and myself, as well as for Emory's religious community," Pearson said.

The first planning meeting of the Assembly Worship Committee will be held in Geneva this summer. The theme of the 1998 assembly of the WCC will be "turn to God, rejoice in hope."

--Bradley A. Singer