More voices contributing a wider range of experiences

by Helen Åkerman last modified 26 May 2016 06:59 PM
More voices contributing a wider range of experiences

WCC Central Committee members with orange consensus cards. Photo: Peter Williams/WCC

26 May 2016

At the annual conference in Uniting Church in Sweden at the beginning of May, we decided to change the procedures in the annual conferences to consensus methods, inspired by the Uniting Church in Australia and the World Council of Churches.

Developing democracy is a proud legacy from our founding churches. As early as in the late 19th century, the founding churches used the principle one member, one vote. We hope that this decision is a way to live up to the legacy and to show that we still and always try to develop democracy.

In the first years of the Uniting Church in Sweden and in the last years of our founding churches, we have struggled with annual conferences where mostly (but certainly not only) Swedish men above the age of 60 are debating and making suggestions in the plenaries.

We want to change that. Not because we want them to be quiet, but because we want and need that the plenaries show more of the whole church.

We need more voices contributing with a wider range of experiences. Women of all ages, younger men, men and women with other cultural backgrounds and so on.

Considering the experiences of the Uniting Church in Australia and the World Council of Churches, this could be the way to go. With this decision we hope that we have made it easier and more desirable to go to the annual conference and to take a more active part in the discussions and decisions when there.

Some of us also hope that congregations will follow, that the manual for decision making will be used in the congregations, in their boards and in the church board.

Right now, a few weeks after the decision, we are planning how to train chair persons, secretaries, how to teach congregations, how to inform. And where. And who! This is a task that fills me with almost equal amounts of both joy and fear.

It´s extremely fascinating being part of making something entirely new, but it´s also frightening. I want this to be good and an uplifting experience for those participating in the annual conference in May 2017, but am also afraid that we will be to insecure and too much of beginners with the methods to really succeed.

So it is really good that we decided to try for two years before evaluating, giving ourselves a chance to improve.

I am looking forward to hearing from those of you who already have experience with changing decision methods, to get the opportunity to learn from your experiences. I am also looking forward to attend the WCC Central Committee meeting in Trondheim in June, to observe and learn more about consensus methods from those who know how it´s done. If you´re there – please say hi and share your experiences with me!


The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

More information.