The World Council of Churches has commenced a formal dialogue with Confucians for the first time in the organisation's history.

The discussions started on 27th October with an inter-religious consultation on Christian Confucian relations in the South Korean capital of Seoul. Following the consultation, Christian participants have had the opportunity to experience traditional Confucian life as guests of Confucian clans in Andong province.

Professor Ioan Sauca, WCC deputy general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, described the move as a "new beginning that we embrace with an openness of mind and heart".

Noting that there were a significant number of WCC member churches in East and North East Asia which encounter Confucianism as part of the everyday dialogue of life", Prof Sauca said it was hoped the initiative would "help engage and explore questions which are at the heart of how Christians understand the ‘self’ and engage with the ‘other’ – the question of  identity as well as interrelationships".

The dialogue has been organised in collaboration with the Council for World Mission and the Korea Forum for Science and Life and with the support of the National Council of Churches in Korea, the Sungkyunkwan University, the City of Andong and the Korea Foundation for Culture and Ethics.