Re-affirm the culture of peace through dialogue

YATRA opening prayer service. Photo: Marietta Ruhland/WCC

Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still
Let this be our song, no one stands alone
Standing side by side
Draw the circle, draw the circle wide

This is one of the songs that was sung at the YATRA (Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity) opening ceremony. The programme which was co-organized between WCC and Jakarta Theological Seminary, gathered 28 young people from 14 Asian countries in Jakarta, Indonesia from 28 May - 11 June 2016, under the theme: Religion and Public Space. For about 14 days there were lectures, discussions, and exposure visits to some places to get to know more about the multi-religious reality in Indonesia, issues that need to be solved and need our action rather then talk and think only.

Indonesia had been chosen as the third YATRA venue, as it represents a multi-cultural and multi-religious context which is also sensitive to conflict.

All the participants had to read, learn and discuss to enrich their knowledge. Exposure visits took them to places such as Hindu Temple, Sikh Temple, Buddhist Temple, Churches, and Mosque.

Participants also had the opportunity to have “iftar” together (i.e. breaking the fast, as it was the time of Ramadhan) in Gus Dur Islamic Boarding School.

They also attended Sunday service in front of the Presidential Palace together with the congregation of the GKI Yasmin Church, who has been holding outdoor services since 2012 and seeking the President's intervention in order to be able to finish construction of its sanctuary.Despite a Supreme Court ruling in favour of the GKI Yasmin Church, local authorities are opposing the project.

This YATRA was also special because it included encounters with social activists from different fields. The situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in church and public space was also discussed in this programme. Some statements may have been shocking and/or surprising for some of the participants, but everybody agreed that this is the way we learn deeply and come out of our comfort zone.

It is a challenge we need to take up in order to build justice and peace in our community.

However, traditional religions were not discussed yet in this programme. This might be a “homework” for the next YATRA programme, as these also exist and are part of our community.

Hopefully after participating in the programme all the participants will be able to implement their knowledges and understandings in their community. The programme is over but the journey still continues.

There is a long way to go to keep building peace and justice in our community. As Hans Kung said: “There is no peace among the nations without peace among the religions, no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions.”

About the author :

Rr. Manda Andrian graduated from Jakarta Theological Seminary in 2003. Her 5,5 years of studying in seminary made her wonder about a lot of things, especially about her "pilgrimage to seek God and truth".

She was born in a family who try to keep tradition as a part of life values and philosophy. Her parents were Moslem, but after their divorce, long time ago, her mom converted to Christianity. Fasting on certain days, meditation, following some Javanese rituals and celebrations as well as practicing our Christianity are things that Manda sees as a richness in her life deepending her understanding of God and her faith.

From 2005-08 she served on the core group of the Ecumenical Network of Indonesian Students and Youth (ENISY), and from 2008-11 on the YMCA Indonesian National Council. In 2007-09, she worked in an interfaith NGO called Society for Inter Religious Dialogue.

She also participated in various interfaith and peace programmes at local, national and international level, including the ecumenical youth leadership training "Building an Interfaith Community" at the WCC's Ecumenical Institute Bossey in Switzerland, a School of Peace in South Thailand, and the WCC's Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity (YATRA) in Cambodia. Currently she works as a teacher in an international Christian school in Jakarta.


The impressions expressed in the blog posts are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.