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Prof. Rev. Dr Simone Sinn, who serves as academic dean at Bossey, said that the students had the unique opportunity to relate their academic studies to key programmatic areas of WCC engagement with member churches and civil society partners. “During this week, the students debated how ecumenical collaboration can strengthen agency and solidarity,” she said.

Expanding horizons

Bossey student Rev. Agnes Souisa, from the Protestant Church in the Moluccas, Republic of Indonesia, said that the Week of Focus was a wonderful opportunity. 

“We can know the struggles of churches in the world through programmatic works in the WCC,” she said. “We can understand how the WCC played its part down to the grassroots.”

Souisa, one of 33 students currently studying at Bossey, said she met people who work behind the scenes at the WCC and its partner organizations. 

"We feel the spirit of togetherness and solidarity, the spirit of ecumenism,” she said. “We can see a living and loving fellowship.”

As a Bossey student, Souisa believes in the process of walking, praying and working together. “The WCC has been building good communication and relationships, internally and externally,” she said. “We hope it keeps on going because it is important for us, who are still carrying God’s mission.”

Student Rev. Abel Nemuel Lamido, from the United Methodist Church in Nigeria, said that the Week of Focus was interesting and eyeopening. “The knowledge  I received has expanded my horizons and charged me to action to contribute towards making the world a better place for all,” said Lamido. 

Student Arnold Swai, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, said that the Week of Focus offered the opportunity to acquire  a broad understanding about the ecumenical pilgrimage. “We explored numerous topics from different speakers,” said Swai. “To mention a few, we looked at the ecumenical landscape, how to create space for mission from the margins, our advocacy on environmental justice, gender injustice, children’s rights, and discipleship.”
 

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a woman looking at a wall of posters
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A lens on climate justice

Student Amongla Longchar from India, Baptist Church Nagaland, reflected on how we perceive Christ in this polarised world. “The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world so much, that the entire cosmos is groaning,” said Longchar. “Will the voice of the unheard be heard?”

Student Priya Acharya, from Republic of India, Jeypore Evangelical Lutheran Church, said Week of Focus explored vital concepts within the ecumenical landscape. “Treating other people with dignity means treating them the way we'd like to be treated ourselves,” said Acharya. “Climate change is disrupting weather patterns, leading to extreme weather events, unpredictable water availability, exacerbating water scarcity, and contaminating water supplies.”

As Week of Focus was held during the same week as COP26, Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, spoke with Bossey students about how climate change is severely impacting food security.

“The manner in which we relate with each other, with the environment and with food, can break this vicious downward spiral,” he said. “What we eat, what we drink, where we source it from, how we cultivate or rear livestock, how we prevent food waste and the policies that guide and govern our food systems, all have a profound influence on bringing about climate justice.”

WCC director of Communication Marianne Ejdersten spoke to the students about how the WCC inspires and invites its member churches and ecumenical partners to work together. “The WCC must be a catalyst for change – for a world with peace and justice at its heart, said Ejdersten. “Its communication should reflect this.”

Communications from the WCC must have participation and hope at its core, added Ejdersten. “Specifically, our task is to provide hope for a different world in which human dignity is strengthened,” she said. “The equal value of all people is at the heart of its culture.”

Rev. Dr Risto Jukko, director of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, said that the Week of Focus was a relevant way for both the students in Bossey as well as for staff of the WCC to engage in a mutually beneficial interaction. “The week highlighted the WCC as a living and loving fellowship of churches looking together for visible unity and giving Christian witness to peace, justice and life,” he said. “In this way, the week strengthened the confidence and created relations, so important today.”

This year, Bossey, the “living laboratory of ecumenism,” as it is affectionately called, celebrates its 75th anniversary. The Ecumenical Institute looks forward to receiving applications for the academic year 2022-23. The application deadline is 30 November 2021. 

Bossey students reflect on the question: “Is racism a faith question?”- WCC press release 6 November 2021