Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Ecumenical Institute has held sway and in September 2021 was able to welcome a student body of 33 students to begin their studies at Bossey.
Alongside the regular components of studies at Bossey, such as engagement with local church communities, visits to ecumenical partners and the Vatican, and not least the half-year-long experience of living in community with fellow students from all over the world, the study year of 2021/2022 also saw the Ecumenical Institute mark no less than 75 years of ecumenical formation.
Rev. Dr Simone Sinn, who serves as academic dean at Bossey since August 2021, affirmed the intense learning processes that took place during the past semester and encouraged students to share their ecumenical expertise in at least three different ways in their communities.
“Give inspiration to your church: articulate your hope and the theological vision that has grown in you during your ecumenical studies here. Moreover, share information and knowledge: be an ambassador who contributes to ecumenical literacy between churches. Thirdly, engage as facilitator: Organize ecumenical activities in your local context so that other people can themselves begin ecumenical journeys together,” Sinn said.
“Not just university studies, but a school of life”
For the students, studying at Bossey has indeed been a challenging yet also rewarding experience, as testified by many of them on the day of graduation.
Yevhenii Kravchenko, a student from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, speaks of Bossey as an experience that has opened up new ways to get to know other church traditions, coming himself from a mostly Orthodox context.
“In Ukraine where most Christians are Orthodox, we have dialogue with Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans. But I have never before in my life had the experience of living together with them. When you live together and share space and share food, it is very different from just being in dialogue,” Kravchenko reflects.
“When I came to Bossey, I thought it would be university studies, but it is not just that. It is like a school of life, how we can live together as Christians,” he says.
Katharina Reis from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany continues: “Having studied in Bossey, I would say I feel changed in a way, and more open to people and different cultures and denominations, more curious about what is going on in the world.”
“Comparing to my own context, at least I have not before had so much contact with other Christian denominations, and so this is something I want to discover when I come back home, the richness that we have in Germany too,” she says.
Monique Jack of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas says the experience at Bossey has meant an intense journey of oftentimes back-to-back activities that can seem a bit overwhelming, but which also in the end means new gifts for life.
“I can say now that I have friends in each of the continents,” Jack reflects. To study in Bossey, “come with an open mind and an open heart, be ready to learn and to not always have your own concepts at the forefront, but be ready for a challenge too. Be prepared to live in community life, to learn about the different traditions – not just church traditions, but cultural traditions,” she says.
In the end though, she reflects, “one of the things I really didn’t expect, was how quickly I felt like I could fit in, how all the students and faculty here are so willing to show you around and to be open. I believe I have been given tools here that will help in the ecumenical formation that has already taken place in my context, and maybe help branch off into new ones,” she adds.
Applications open anew for Bossey online course in ecumenism (deadline 15 February)