ECHOS commissioners meeting in Sibiu, Romania. © Albin Hillert/WCC

ECHOS commissioners meeting in Sibiu, Romania. © Albin Hillert/WCC

Gathering in Sibiu, Romania, the World Council of Churches (WCC) youth commission ECHOS met on 17-20 August for days of discernment on the position and role of youth in the ecumenical movement today, and to set the future path of the commission, as it journeys on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

Moderator Martina Viktorie Kopecká, from the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, who is also a member of the WCC Executive Committee and of the WCC Ecumenical Officers Network, welcomed the group saying, “as ECHOS commissioners, we are all called by God, who sent us on the most important mission, to proclaim the good news.”

“Part of this journey of love,” Kopecká continued, “is to visit wounds and repent, to move forward, but also to move in the middle of our hearts, as we are on the pilgrimage together.”

A key point of focus for the commissioners was on how to be strategic in encouraging youth representation and securing active engagement of youth in the ecumenical movement in the future.

Emily Evans from the Uniting Church in Australia reflected, “what has become very clear during this meeting is that the experiences and perspectives of young people today is very different from what it was in the past, and that it’s important that the WCC realistically acknowledges this, and works with young people to carry the ecumenical movement forward.”

“As a commission, we see youth concerns cut across all areas of the work of the WCC, and we are not just interested in the number of youth representatives in different places, but want to find ways in which we as youth can take the fellowship of churches on a journey with us, and empower youth to have a more active voice,” Evans added.

“One thing that strikes me,” Martina Kopecká continued, “is that this youth commission does not focus on creating abstract and beautiful narratives, but heads for concrete issues from our own local contexts and our shared experiences.”

“What we can bring, and offer to the WCC,” concluded Ramy Farouk from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, “is a little bit to be the connecting chain between the ecumenical movement and the grassroots level of the church. While the clergy form the official links at the ecclesiological level, we as youth can bring the voice of ‘the life of the church on the street’”.

“I believe this is a good complement to the work of the WCC fellowship, that we can bring also something different into the future of the church, to promote ecumenical work and promote Christian unity, together.”

Download free high resolution photos from Romania

ECHOS Commission on youth in the ecumenical movement

WCC ECHOS Commission begins pilgrimage in Cairo, Egypt (WCC press release of 12 May 2015)