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Chapel of the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey.


Another former student and friend since decades is Dr Humberto Lagos Schuffeneger (Chile), lawyer, sociologist, theologian, lecturer, human rights activist, poet, and writer who opposes military dictatorship. Actually, he is a candidate for the Premio Nacional de Literatura in Chile. He regretted not being able to join and sent greetings and good wishes, saying: “Saludo, con cariño y respeto, al Consejo Ecuménico de Iglesias y al Instituto Ecuménico de Bossey, en Suiza, pues mi estadía de estudios en ellos fue, en el momento en que estuve como alumno, un incentivo generoso para cursar estudios superiores y dar sentido al compromise de vida que, con los valores cristianos, me permitió desarrollar actividades importantes para auxiliar a muchos seres humanos, cuando sus vidas corrían peligro y la pobreza los golpeaba. Abrazo fraternalmente a mis compañeras y compañeros del Instituto Ecuménico de Bossey, cuyas amistades fueron un regalo de Fe.”

The meeting is a mirror of the actual world reality: in this gathering was a Russian Orthodox delegate, alumni, and former youth delegate to the WCC whom I interviewed at the central committee meeting in June in Geneva. Her friendly smile included now a distance for our conversation which I respected. But she came, participated, was present. How good, how deep Bossey experience may go. A coherence for a lifetime among alumni on a professional level, in friendship, and for some maybe even more. This speaks for the humanity which overcomes barriers.

So much has changed since in favor for all over generations of alumni. To see how many students profited from Bossey ecumenical studies as a family of mostly young people from all over the world, finding and living together, and learning to live with differences, learning to accept differences in Christian belief, liturgy, faith expression, and life, and experience all of these riches. I came to Bossey in the middle of my studies and understood, that belief has another dimension than just studies and books. I finished my theological studies, was ordained as a pastor in the Protestant Church of Switzerland, and recently promoted with a PhD in theology. Some of my roots of belief are with the ecumenical community of Taizé (France), building “family” ties in belief, understanding and solidarity that keep also in difficult times, and allow us to strengthen each other. I live the ecumenical experience in Bossey in a sense of Oikoumene, a common house and household with all responsibility for caring, including the creation. It gave me new motivation and a new understanding of church as a comprising community. These impressive encounters at a human level are the lasting value of Bossey as an ecumenical way, a pilgrimage. So I should like to include the memory of a former Bossey director: John Mbiti (Kenya/Switzerland) professor at the Faculty of Berne, he translated the Greek New Testament into Kiikamba, his mother tongue, before his death in 2019. I am also glad to have made a new contact with Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba (Zambia), teacher at Bossey. May the ecumenical dynamic go on!

About the author :

Rev. Esther R. Suter currently lives in Basel, Switzerland, where she was born and grew up.

After some years working as a secretary, she studied Theology, French and English at the Universities of Basel, Munich and Geneva (Ecumenical Institute Bossey), already opening up for ecumenical and interreligious questions and contacts.

Ordained as a Reformed pastor in Switzerland, she worked during ten years as a chaplain at the University Hospital in Basel. During a period working as a substitute pastor, she used times in-between placements in congregations to travel more than 30 countries, starting to report as a journalist on a variety of issues and taking lots of photos. She has lived abroad for seven years in total (working as a volunteer pastor in a poor Manhattan neighbourhood, among other experiences) and has a broad-ranging formation in Fine Arts, Asian philosophy and medicine.

Currently, she mainly works as a freelance journalist in German, French and English. She plans to finalize her doctoral thesis about a Swiss liberal theologian (Fritz Buri, 1907-1995) in 2017.

She is the vice-president of the Internationale Association of Liberal Religious Women and a member of the International Alliance of Women, representing IAW on the NGO-CSW-Commission in Geneva and as their representative for Human Rights at the United Nations in Geneva. Since 2010 she regularly attends the meetings of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, in New York as an NGO delegate.


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.