The World Council of Churches 11th Assembly brings hope to a world in need of healing, unity, and reconciliation. There is one uplifting note: new shoots and blooms are sprouting amid the conflict and chaos. The assembly is more than just a global event for churches; it has a deeper purpose of inviting, gathering, and engaging people of faith who are concerned about people and the whole inhabited earth.
The WCC assembly serves as a safe and free space for engagements, conversations, and discussions to occur without judgment or discrimination. The venue in Karlsruhe, Germany, has been a witness to the interactions, and relationships established, and churches and organizations connected in their aspirations to make the world a better place to live for future generations.
As the assembly comes to an end, with boxes closed in the organizers' temporary office and participants and delegates packing their luggage in their respective hotels, a new chapter for the global ecumenical movement opens. Messages of hope and inspiration are carried to various communities as trains and buses travel down the road and planes fly to various destinations around the world. They carry new seeds to be sewn and grown with them for planting. There is so much hope that people can take home from this gathering that they ought to share with their faith communities and organizations.
While the fellowship of churches is gathered, many have not seen the beauty of a rose garden located inside the Karlsruhe Zoo. Surprised by the colors seen from a distance, it was impossible not to approach the garden filled with roses in various hues of white, yellow, purple, orange, pink, red, and many others. Some roses come solo, some in bunches, some in full bloom, and some still budding. The range of colors and species of roses in the garden simply inspired thought about ecumenism.
The beauty of the ecumenical movement can be compared to a rose garden. The roses come in a variety of colors and sizes, just like the people of faith who have gathered for the assembly. They may differ from one another, but they are all beautiful and endowed with the light of inspiration that the world requires in all its brokenness and challenges today. This gathering includes people of various races, colors, cultures, faith traditions, and confessions, but each has a beautiful context of faith worthy of sharing with the rest of the world. There is acknowledgment within the conversations of that one faith, planted and nurtured in different contexts but equally inspiring for the common work of healing, unity, and reconciliation.
During the assembly, however, there is one challenge for the ecumenical movement: to let flowers bloom anew, to let new shoots arise from the seedbeds. To give time for young voices to express their concerns and to provide more opportunities for leadership in the worldwide ecumenical movement. As the youth have taken a stand and pleaded for equal representation, this is an important call that requires immediate attention. The response is indeed necessary for the present and future, as well as the continuation of the ecumenical movement's work. In turn, the fellowship of churches accepted and acknowledged the need to provide more opportunities for youth to lead and participate in the work of social transformation.
As the gathering comes to an end and people rush to train stations and airports, there will be new beginnings and opportunities to plant new visions and hopes for a better tomorrow for women and men, LGBTQIA, young and old, people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, people living with HIV and AIDS, children, and youth.
As the assembly ends, the ecumenical movement will enter a new hopeful era of sowing seeds of justice and unity in various contexts. There is great hope for people of faith who are committed to building a just and peaceful world and to taking on the role of God's co-partners in recreating and renewing the world in the face of turmoil and brokenness. These hopes and visions for just peace should be reanimated and transformed into concrete and collective action. Let flowers bloom anew amid the world's struggles and challenges.