Photos: Peter Kenny/WCC

Photos: Peter Kenny/WCC

A group of churches from Germany’s west inspired by the quest for justice and peace presented an ecumenical exhibition showing how “Peace takes a different way” at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva.

A group of 22 people accompanied Rev. Detlev Knoche, director of the Ecumenical Centre of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau and of the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck. The group also included members of the Roman-Catholic diocese of Mainz.

Knoche explained on 3 April that the interactive exhibition in English and German was inspired by the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

People in the synod of his church decided, “we must show to the people that there are solutions to conflicts that are working nonviolently -- not only always asking for military interventions or violent solutions,” said the German pastor.

The exhibition will remain on display at the WCC’s Ecumenical Centre in Geneva through 3 May.

70th-anniversary gift

The exhibition has inspiring footage, photos and other media examples of the theme and first made its rounds in Germany, but the churches in Knoche’s area have translated it into English and gave it as a gift to the WCC after its 70th anniversary last year.

Rev. Dr Mikie A. Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life, led a midday prayer with a brass ensemble providing music and with biblical readings by WCC staff and members of the visiting group.

In words of welcome Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary, noted that while the WCC is a companion on just peace, the root of its peace initiatives is to promote nonviolent peace.

“We have taken our ministry of reconciliation seriously as we work with the churches, people of other faiths and goodwill in the hot spots of the world which include the Korean Peninsula, Israel and Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Ukraine,” she said. “Making peace defines who we are.”

Nonviolent peace promotion

Phiri cited as an example of nonviolence peace promotion, the WCC’s Thursdays in Black campaign that grew out of the WCC’s Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998).

During that campaign, the stories of rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, violence, and many tragedies that grow outward from such violence became increasingly visible.

“The campaign is simple but profound: Wear black on Thursdays. Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence.”

Thursdays in Black shows respect for women who are resilient in the face of violence, encouraging others to join.

“Often black has been used with negative racial connotations.  In this campaign, Black is used as a colour of resistance and resilience,” said Phiri, a Malawian theologian who studied in South Africa and England.

Many of the WCC’s 350 member churches representing more than half a billion people worldwide have adopted this ecumenical campaign along with national councils and ecumenical and inter-religious partners, academic institutions, student associations, and others.

“Therefore, it is in this spirit that the WCC receives the exhibition from the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau,” said Phiri.

On the first of their three-day stay, the group from Germany visited the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, meeting Prof. Dr Fr Ioan Sauca, WCC deputy general secretary and director of the institute; and Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi, professor of Ecumenical Biblical Hermeneutics and academic dean.

There they received an overview about the work and the themes of the Joint Working Group of the Vatican and the WCC, later touring the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

On the final day of their visit the German ecumenical group met Rev. Dr Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, examining the ecumenical situation after “From Conflict to Communion” and before the beginning of the dialogue about “Eucharist, Ministry, Church”.

More information about the exhibition

Photos from the exhibition opening

More about Thursdays in Black

Read also: Blog post by Rev. Detlev Knoche and Rev. Sabine Müller-Langsdorf about the exhibition

Website with additional multimedia content (in German) related to the exhibition