Opening prayer at the Ecumenical Youth Gathering

A group of Pacific Performers dance in the Saint Stephen Church in Karlsruhe during the opening prayer of an Ecumenical Youth Gathering that brings together hundreds of youth from all over the world in the lead-up to the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany.


Creating a colorful visual tapestry, participants tied pieces of cloth with their gifts written on it to show the diversity of gifts, connectedness, and unity in Christ.

During the Opening worship, Jussi Luoma, a 25-year-old, newly ordained pastor from Finland, shared how he had been waiting for this moment. With different backgrounds, different dreams, and different journeys as followers of Jesus, here we are, ready to celebrate this special diversity. For the next days, we form a body where each one of us has an essential part,” said Luoma.

Reflecting on the passage from the Bible,1 Corinthians 12:12-27, he further shared that in his language, Finnish, there is not a perfect word to describe the idea of the body of Christ. In Finnish the word that is used in this passage is ruumis. In our language, this word is often used to describe a dead body, a corpse. But in this sense, we don't talk about a corpse but a living and active, operational body. Being a living body means that we are not separated from this world. We breathe in this world, this creation of God, we act in this world and we want to transform this world. The living body also means that each member of this body is aware of the other members and their existence, and also cares for them. As we know, reflexes are an important sign of a living body,” said Luoma.

Opening prayer of the Ecumenical Youth Gathering

Young people gather around the altar of Saint Stephen Church in Karlsruhe to put together a tapestry of fabric onto which they have each made note of one gift that they have and which they wish to celebrate. The fabric is pieced together as a way of celebrating diversity among people around the world during the opening prayer of an Ecumenical Youth Gathering in Karlsruhe, Germany.


WCC central committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom, via video greeting, welcomed the young people and sent her blessings. “You are playing diverse roles during this assembly—very, very vital roles,” she said. “I see you as young people who are a beacon of hope in a troubled world in an ecumenical boat. It’s a troubled world that this assembly themes seeks to address.”

WCC vice moderator Bishop Mary Ann Swenson also expressed, via video greeting, her excitement at the upcoming assembly as well as the participation of young people. “We are so very, very excited about the young people and the gathering that you are having as you prepare for the assembly,” she said. “I know young people who started as very young people with the WCC and have spent their whole lives involved in the ecumenical movement and have helped us work together.”

After the opening worship, participants were welcomed by WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. 

Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca addressing the EYG gathering

WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca welcoming the participants of the Ecumenical Youth Gathering after the opening worship in Karlsruhe, Germany.


Looking at your youthful faces gives me courage. I see in you the next central committee of WCC and some of you as staff of WCC. The future is yours,” said Sauca.

In another video message the UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake said that young people are pivotal in building bridges between religious institutions and society at large. 

Young people are a key to a unified world because you can see the possibility of interconnectedness with others, with young people at the forefront of creating social, political, economic, and environmental solutions to the challenges that affect not only the current generation but also the future generations,” said Wickramanayake.

Learn more about the Ecumenical Youth Gathering

WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany