"You become ambassadors of the work of the WCC, who take back to your churches what you have learnt, not to fight your churches but to help them grow, to feed them positively with your experiences, to invite them to think bigger and to walk together with them to see the changes you need to see in your different spaces,” said Pillay.
The Stewards Programme is composed of three main elements: intentional ecumenical formation, development of leadership, and participation of young people in major meetings of the World Council of Churches. Besides being involved in the meetings, the young people will also be able to perform various tasks to help make the meeting run smoothly.
“I do not see young people as the leaders of the future only. I see them as leaders for now. That is why the WCC has taken a very strong decision that we want to integrate the youth in what we do; a good indication of this is the appointment by the executive committee of 15 youth advisors to participate in the central committee,” said Pillay.
Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement in the Ecumenical Movement, reminded us that “the vision of the Stewards Programme has always been large. The first general secretary of the WCC, W.A. Visser’t Hooft, saw the stewards as leaders of the present and bearers of the future ecumenical vision. He wanted young people to encounter ecumenism and ecumenical leaders, so that they might one day become leaders in the ecumenical movement as he had become. In that regard, the Stewards Programme serves an introduction to ecumenism. For many people serving as a steward has been the first or early step towards greater involvement in ecumenism and opportunities for deeper learning and growth. This continues today.”
“I look forward to expanding my perspective around Christianity in general, and for me, this is the first step into the ecumenical movement, so I am keen to just absorb everything that I can learn and take with me,” shared Ilmari Johannes Häyrynen, from the Orthodox Church of Finland, who is one of the stewards.
“I look forward to meeting the other stewards and getting to know them better as I believe that we all have a lot to share as Christians. I also look forward to grow spiritually as a Christian and as a person in general, through stories that bind us together as a community,” said Maliva Excellent, a steward from the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina.
Pillay concluded saying, “Your presence here at WCC during the central committee is not just about service. It is about growth, stretching your knowledge, building relationships, seeing the wider church, and knowing your role as young people in all of this while also strengthening your love for God and humanity. Be openminded and be prepared to learn and go back a different person.”