In a letter issued on 25 August, addressed to Rev. Luca Negro, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit offered “heartfelt condolences to the people who lost family members and friends.” The letter follows the massive earthquake that hit central Italy in the morning hours of 24 August, taking hundreds of lives.
“I have an absolute confidence in your youthful and great enthusiasm and your heightened state of awareness that you will be ambassadors of peace, mercy and cooperation among all peoples.” This message, from Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, visibly uplifted and inspired young people attending a seminar, “Youth Engagement, Religion and Violence,” in Cairo this week.
It was with sadness that WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit received the news of the passing of Rev. Juan Abelardo Schvindt of the Evengelical Church of the River Plate (IERP), on 23 August.
The “Exclusion and Embrace Conference: Disability, Justice and Spirituality” was held in Melbourne, Australia 20-24 August. The multi-faith conference explored the issues of faith and meaning in the lived experience of disability. Participants discussed ethics, care, inclusion in faith communities, friendship, discrimination, love, justice and liberation. Dr Samuel Kabue, executive secretary of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, gave a presentation entitled “Disability/Theology in curriculum of Theological Institutions.”
“Negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons”. Do it “in 2017”. Make sure the negotiations are “open to all states” and include civil society. These are key points in a much-disputed report adopted last week by a United Nations working group of more than 100 countries meeting in Geneva.
Interreligious trust and respect has proven a key challenge in communities worldwide, not least in contexts where the need for successful peacebuilding is dire. Therefore, 11 August marked an important day in the history of the Ecumenical Institute as it saw the first students receive their CAS in Interreligious Studies diplomas.
Seventeen students completed a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Interreligious Studies in August at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. The six-week course, credited by the University of Geneva, is evenly split between distance learning and a residential experience.
On a sunny, hot afternoon on the grounds of the 18th-century Château de Bossey, 17 young people from across the world gathered for their graduation ceremony in the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Interreligious Studies from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.
Nigeria Christians and Muslims gathered on 19 August to open the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH). The centre is located in Kaduna, where more than 20,000 people have died in various conflicts over the last three decades. Amid a growing number of interfaith initiatives in Nigeria, the new centre has a unique goal: to systematically document interfaith relations to inform national and international policy-making.
“Peace is not just a ceasefire. Peace is not just the silencing of arms. Peace is education. Peace is figuring out how to coexist and how to build together.”
Forty young people from 14 countries will meet this week in Cairo for a seminar entitled “Youth Engagement, Religion and Violence.” From 18 to 22 August, participants from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East will focus on topics such as the impact of religious discourse on contributions to peace-building versus creating violent tensions.
An economic system based on over-consumption and greed has become firmly rooted in today’s world and it is high time to change this paradigm by working for a new financial and economic architecture. The WCC together with the WCRC now convenes a first ever Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management for an Economy of Life, in Hong Kong SAR.
After recent reports of widespread violent demonstrations in Addis-Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia, local church leaders and members of the WCC joined in a call for peaceful dialogue and restraint on all sides.
Manuel Quintero is retiring after eight years of service as the international programme coordinator for the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). He took time to reflect on the mission of EAPPI, particularly within its current context, as well as aspects of the programme that have been dear to his heart.
As many in the world observed and cheered the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, church leaders spoke out in support of the Olympic refugee team and the place of public honor it offered for refugees competing in the games.
Rev. Dr Owe Boersma will take over the post of EAPPI international programme coordinator in Geneva, effective 26 September 2016. Mr Manuel Quintero, after eight years of service as EAPPI international programme coordinator based in Geneva, has reached retirement age and will be leaving the World Council of Churches’ EAPPI international office at the end of August.
The latest edition of the quarterly WCC journal features a discussion of the roots of religion and violence in the Middle East. Five presentations drawn from three WCC-sponsored conferences of recent years explore aspects of the religious concepts of “promised land,” the “theology of land” and how to go about “reading the Hebrew Bible in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
A delegation from the WCC attended the 12th World Social Forum in Montreal, Canada, which concluded on 14 August. More than 30,000 participants from around the world gathered to discuss global issues based on their local experiences, network with others working on similar problems, and create new joint initiatives advancing a progressive path forward.
To raise awareness on the work of churches and church-related organizations engaged in peace-building efforts in Colombia, the WCC and Caritas Internationalis are promoting an event in New York on 18 August.
Land rights, equity in development resource flows and life-enhancing epistemologies were among the themes emphasized by faith-based organizations at the World Social Forum in Montreal, Canada on 9-14 August.