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ECHOS - Commission Report for Executive Committee

Report from the first meeting of the ECHOS - Commission on youth engagement in the ecumenical movement: 8-13 May 2015, Cairo, Egypt

30 May 2015

Date of first meeting: 8-13 May 2015, Cairo, Egypt

Report for Executive Committee (June 2015)

Section I. Introduction

ECHOS - Commission on youth engagement in the ecumenical movement - met first from May 8-13 in Cairo (Egypt). This consultative body of World Council of Churches consists of 20 people coming from all regions, different contexts, various church families and ecumenical organizations. The commission is gender balanced, enriched with the indigenous voice and all the commissioners are under 30 years of age. Eight (8) of ECHOS commissioners were also invited to be the advisors of WCC Central Committee for a four year term.

Section II. Mandate

According to the 9th General Assembly (Porto Alegre, Brazil) recommendations were made that a representative body of young adults be established. This body is supposed to coordinate the various roles of young adults connected to the WCC and facilitate communication between them. And this body is also supposed to be a space for meaningful participation of young adults in the life and decision making of the WCC and would be able to hold the WCC accountable to its goals regarding young adults.

The 10th General Assembly (Busan, South Korea) affirmed the need to have a body that enable the active involvement of young adults and also ensure the sustainable development of youth engagement within ecumenical movements. The new WCC Central Committee decided to invite at least 8 young advisors representing a balanced geographical and confessional spread to participate in its meetings (with the right to speak).

Till the next - 11th General Assembly, the ECHOS commissioner will meet once a year.

Section III. ECHOS Vision (DRAFT) and it role within ecumenical organizations

Within the first meeting the vision statement was drafted and is being prepared to be posted. The idea of ECHOS vision is a circle of related parts that make sense as a whole. The highlight of this vision statement is:

The voice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, calls us to bring the fresh energy and to become a new prophetic voice, that reflects the daily reality of our diverse local context and that recognizes the needs of our neighbors, sisters and brothers, who joined our common pilgrimage. We hear the loud voice of our world that calls for justice and peace.

We, as pilgrims on a journey, are prepared for action, facilitation, advocacy and reconciliation. We, as a young generation, emphasize the power of common prayer as an inexhaustible source. We are called to strengthen the fellowship, build new relations among WCC member churches, continue the dialogue and share with our partner ecumenical organizations.

We are open-minded to continue intergenerational dialogue. With appreciation to your deep knowledge and experience, we are ready to listen and learn, and we also bring our education and our professional skills to share. As we all live in this multi-religious world, we perceive the necessity of continuation of the interreligious dialogues and the necessity of building trust among religions.

We, as young Christians, gathered within the ECHOS commission on youth engagement, strive for sustainable and active involvement of young adults in all levels of the WCC by developing leadership skills and advocating for broader participation of youth in the ecumenical movements.

As growth is not just about individual leaders, we emphasize also the ability to co-operate and work as a strong team.

We invite all to grow up with us, we encourage you to deepen and refresh you spirituality and we highlight the importance of moving together.

We are not just an echo. We are a real young voice. We all are on a pilgrimage of justice and peace!

The important question that was raised is What is our role as ECHOS, where are we within the ecumenical organizations, youth desks of local churches, national ecumenical youth committees and global Christian youth organizations?

ECHOS commission is unique because:

-        we, as ECHOS are able to ensure a meaningful sustainable networking, exchange and dialogue with young adults from local, regional and global ecumenical organizations etc.

-        we, as ECHOS are an open minded group of young Christians who reflects the reality within the local context society and churches - that creates from us a useful "mirror" of reality

-        we, as ECHOS are ready to share our own stories and invite the young people (via facebook, twitter etc.) to think over their own context, challenges and opportunities. We are ready to encourage (not only) young people to fulfill their life, to encourage them to deepen their spirituality, to build the personal "relationship" with God, to join us within the pilgrimage of justice and peace

Section IV. Ways of working

The commissioner created three working sub-groups:

a)      Communication

Strengthen communication methods In order to encourage and promote mutual accountability within the WCC - young adults in WCC governing bodies, platform for information, issues, experiences, expertise and support, inter-commission dialogue, social media, staff and interns, etc.

b) Ecumenical formation

Strengthening ecumenical leadership through workshops, mentorship program, webinars, seminars, interreligious/generational forums, youth-friendly versions of WCC documents, equal responsibility sharing within ECHOS gatherings, promoting and assisting ecumenical academic education, WCC youth online magazine or newsletter, interactive WCC youth app.

c) Networking

The ‘Networking' task group is responsible for facilitating the process of networking within Youth Ecumenical Organisations (regional and global) in order to:

-       Identify commonalities, differences, strengths, weakness among the ecumenical youth community.

-       Share human resources, fundraising, objectives, strategies to achieve common goals and do not multiply efforts

-       Involve more young people at all levels (grass roots, regional and global)

-       Visualize what is being done by the Youth Ecumenical movement (ie in terms of leadership training, advocacy and solidarity) through the digital sights, commissions work and reference groups

-       Create/ propose new common spaces of exchange among the Youth Ecumenical Movement

Section V. Growing in fellowship - A Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

As we all are on the pilgrimage of justice and peace togehter, the ECHOS commission appreciated a lot the significant importance that was given to the youth involvement within the pilgrimage, described in the Report of the Reference Group on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. The Reference Group expressed the need of integral presence and participation of ecumenical youth movements and youth in the whole process of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, and this underrepresentation was mentioned as a significant crisis.

According to the discussion of ECHOS, we highlight these ideas:

  • Pilgrimage is a journey of faith. It is a way to express our gratitude, seek the enlightenment of healing or reconciliation.
  • It is God, who brings us His peace and justice. In embarking on the journey of justice and peace, we become pilgrims towards God´s kingdom, living and accomplishing his will for the world.
  • We are supposed and convinced to pray together as a community, to cry together, to share our hopes, to build trust, to counter the challenges and what is also important - to render the acts of mercy to each other and love one another (John 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.')

Section VI. Reflection on reports from other commissions

Faith and Order, CCIA and EEF had representatives at the ECHOS meeting. A representative of CWME had also been invited but couldn't be present. Working together in order to coordinate and strengthen the voices of young people around ecumenical issues is critical.

ECHOS members reflected together on the role of youth in the different WCC Commissions and the common issues that have been highlited by the other commissions that affects directly young people. The CCIA wants to collaborate with ECHOS on the topics of Youth Employment and Religion and Violence. This is a welcome initiative as it will also give ECHOS a voice on pertinent issues that face not only youths, but those outside of the category of youth.

The EEF is also focusing on Youth engagement in the various programme areas, which signifies the importance youths will have to play in Ecumenical Education and Formation.

Section VII. Inter-religious dialogue

We, as ECHOS commission, consider the inter-religious dialogue as an integral part of our journey on justice and peace. As we experienced during the meetings in Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, there is a good will of both sides to communicate, to continue or establish the dialogue and conversation with Muslims. The youth participants unhampered by the past could facilitate these contacts and dialogues. We assume the importance to establish the stronger links with existing and new interfaith partners.