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Message from the ECHOS meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 24-29 January 2010

Message from the 24-29 January meeting of ECHOS - the Commission on youth in the ecumenical movement, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

29 January 2010

January 24-29, 2010
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)


Echos gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for its third meeting as the Youth Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 24-29 January 2010. During this meeting, Echos reaffirmed its commitment to the development of the youth ecumenical movement within the WCC, within the churches and organizations outside of the WCC whose members serve in our commission, and within the broader ecumenical community. Throughout this meeting, Echos confirmed its commitment to expanded space and ecumenical formation as particularly important objectives within the Youth Commission and for the WCC at large. However, one reverberating sound that “echoes” out of our meeting in Ethiopia is particularly clear: streams of justice forge the paths to just peace. Echos seeks such just peace.

Overcoming Violence

Violence touches the lives of children and youth in a unique way. Although we lament that children and youth are sometimes the perpetrators of violence, we also recognize that, more often than not, children and youth are the most vulnerable, forgotten, and neglected victims of violence. Thus, the call for just peace is close to the heart of the youth. Meeting concurrently with the Decade to Overcome Violence and the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation Planning Committees, Echos reflected on the violence that threatens our community, earth, marketplace, and peoples (IEPC Reasoning Concept Paper) as well as theological and material resources that compel us to pursue justice and renew our hope in just peace.

Given our meeting location in Addis Ababa and the DOV focus on Africa, we are particularly sensitive to the ways that violence ravishes the African continent. Our week began with stories of violence and peacemaking from African ecumenical youth. Along with the testimonies of refugees residing in Addis Ababa, a briefing on gender issues and female genital mutilation in Ethiopia, the Director of Peace and Security Council of the African Union Commission and His Excellency Mazimhaka Patrick, the former Vice Chairman of the African Union Commission, these stories bore witness to the troubles facing the continent and the extraordinary work that churches within and outside of the continent can do to build peace if they are courageous enough to break the silence when they feel the threat of violence.

• Echos will continue to work closely with the DOV and IEPC planning committees, raising awareness about particular experiences of violence in the lives of youth, offering contextual perspectives on bringing about just peace, and sharing the hope of just peace within the churches and organizations Echos represents.

Prayers for Justice and Peace Emerging from our Regional Sharing

• We acknowledge that the conflicts within Africa stem from the legacy of historical injustices perpetrated against Africa and from various challenges of governance within Africa; we confess and repent of our roles in such injustice; we pray for humility, discernment, and courage as we respond in solidarity with those seeking justice on the African continent.
• Echos joins in lamentation over the devastating impact of the earthquake that affected Haiti on 12 January 2010. We mourn with those who are mourning the loss of family, friends, and community. We voice our indignation about the legacies of injustice that have shaped Haiti as a country; we confess and repent of our roles in such injustice; we pray for humility, discernment, and courage as we respond to the current and persistent shouts of the people of Haiti and God’s call for just peace in the midst of crisis.
• Echos commissioners continue to keep these and other global and regional concerns in our prayers for justice and peace: migration, climate change, and economic crises.
• While we keep each of our regions in prayer, we especially pray for the Middle East and hope that we will be able to concentrate on this area as a commission in the future.

Echos is grateful to our hosts in Addis Ababa and to God for the blessing of our fellowship. Salam!

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The Echos commission consists of 25 young people from a broad cross-section of churches and youth organizations within the ecumenical movement. It was set up as an "active think tank" to provide the WCC and ecumenical youth networks with new ideas on how young people can engage in ecumenical work.