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WCC honors legacy of lost staff member, launches resource on economic and ecological justice

WCC honors legacy of lost staff member, launches resource on economic and ecological justice

Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

12 March 2019

A resource rooted to the congregation level of churches engagement in ecological and economic justice was launched during a public event at the World Council of Churches (WCC) headquarters in Geneva on 12 March. The publication is the fruit of a long work led by Rev. Norman Tendis, WCC consultant for Economy of Life, who was one of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on 10 March.

The “Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice”  is an invitation to join a pilgrimage for an Economy of Life and climate justice, to commit to make changes in the way people live, to share successful ideas and to encourage one another.

Tendis, who also served as a pastor of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Austria, was on his way to the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly, in Nairobi, Kenya, where he planned to launch the roadmap.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said the loss of Tendis still feels like a shock. “We are a bit shaken, all of us, still, and that is quite okay. That is how life is,”  said Tveit. “I’m still convinced that what we do now is important. What he was committed to, is what we are committed to together. We can use the roadmap not only as a discussion starter but also as a way to act immediately.”

Prof. Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary, recalled interviewing Tendis when he applied for his job at the WCC. “All of us on the panel, we were attracted to his enthusiasm for his job. He was a man with a mission. He was already practicing those things at the congregational level. He knew he had a message for the ecumenical movement to share,”  said Phiri.

“The roadmap is an invitation for us as faith-based institutions and communities to walk the talk on economic and ecological justice in our daily lives and activities and to become a movement for transformation”, said Athena Peralta, WCC programme executive for economic and ecological justice.

“On 11 March, we presented the roadmap at the UN Environment Assembly through a side-event titled ‘Eco-just churches and communities: models for living sustainably and with justice’as part of the Faith for Earth Initiative”, added Peralta. “While we sorely missed his presence and voice, Norman would have been happy to know that the roadmap he was instrumental in developing stimulated a rich exchange of inspiring practices from different faith traditions”, she added.

The publication offers a 5-step programme to change the way we deal with the economy and our ecological surroundings in the following areas: Living in accordance with the covenant with God and creation, Renewable Energy & Climate Protection, Just and Sustainable Consumption, Economies of Life and Networking.

“The way we interact with the economy and creation – not only as private persons, but also as congregations, communities and churches – is strongly connected with our faith convictions”, wrote Tendis in the foreword of the publication.

By bringing examples of how individuals and congregations can support and practice small-scale, live-giving agriculture, and create community gardens and access to clean water, the roadmap gives strong emphasis to the potential transformative power that individuals and congregations have to lead by example.

The roadmap includes a tool for direct engagement with the WCC’s programmatic area of economic and ecological justice for further involvement and sharing of experiences.

The following people were also part of the presentation and the launch:

Drums: Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, Dr Fulata Moyo, Jamie Morgan and students from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute
The Economy of Life and Ecological Justice team
In Geneva, Switzerland: Dr Manoj Kurian, Dinesh Suna
In Nairobi at the UNEA, Kenya: Athena Peralta
In Skara, Sweden: Rev. Henrik Grape
In Crete, Greece: Dr Louk Andrianos
In Porto Alegre, Brazil: Dr Marcelo Schneider

Links:

Download the Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice (PDF for home printing)

Click here to download the Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice (PDF for professional printing)

WCC general secretary letter to member churches

Photos from the launch event

Recording of the video live streaming

"WCC mourns lost staff member in Ethiopian Airlines crash" - WCC news release, 11 March 2019