On 17 June, six new master students finished their yearlong studies with the graduation ceremony of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey.
Following the call of the bell, ringing for the first time in the institute's medieval chapel since March and the suspension of gatherings in Switzerland, the group of students, WCC staff and visitors gathered for a thanksgiving prayer. For this special gathering, measures of hygiene and physical distancing have been taken.
Remembering the special context of the pandemic, the master students led the prayer, giving thanks for the year and praying for the victims of COVID-19.
Rev. Dr Simone Sinn, vice dean at the Ecumenical Institute, shared a reflection on the meaning of thanksgiving.
“A key element of ecumenical learning is to be trained to see the grace, care and faithfulness of the Triune God in the gifts that other Christians, other churches and other communities bring to the table,” she said.
At the end of the prayer, Church of Norway’s presiding bishop, Most Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, former WCC general secretary, shared a live video message with students.
Opening the graduation ceremony, Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi, dean of the Ecumenical Institute, highlighted the special context in which the students are graduated.
“Your graduation is a sign of hope,” he said.
Prof. Christophe Chalamet, vice dean of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Geneva, read a message of Prof. Ghislain Waterlot, dean of the faculty: “Our Faculty of Protestant Theology is very keen on its relationship with the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey and on the collaboration with the whole team of staff and professors of the institute, because the faculty knows that one of the most important things in the eyes of a Christian and of every sincere and authentic believer is done there: the effort for more fraternal love.”
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC interim general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute, highlighted what the graduated students are bringing to their churches: “Your impact in your local churches could be great; be prepared that you will be given important responsibilities.”
Finally, after receiving gifts from the institute, Emma Van Dorp, from Switzerland, shared a message on behalf of the group.
“Having lived in this place for almost one year, we wholeheartedly enjoyed Bossey’s colourful environment, which includes a variety of cultures, traditions and continents.”
“We all feel that we have had an eschatological foretaste of the eternal community of the Kingdom of God through our community life at Bossey. This is why for us it is clear that Bossey goes beyond divisions. It is an oasis and safe place where one can easily feel the invisible unity among us that has become visible. Unity is possible, it is livable.”
Applications open for studies at the Ecumenical Institute Bossey, in 2021-2022: WCC press release 17 june 2020