Marianne Ejdersten, WCC acting general secretary, congratulated the students and their pursuits in a world full of many challenges.
“Our world is beautiful, but fragile and a messy place at the moment,” she said. “It is therefore of particular importance for us to speak out together in society.”
Ejdersten noted that the ecumenical movement can lay the foundations for peaceful and convivial coexistence with people of the same faith as well as with people of other faiths.
“By getting to know each other, in lectures, in conversation, at meals together and, most importantly finding new friends, we break down prejudices, break down barriers, and come closer together,” she said. “We suddenly realise that the other person is not so different after all.”
Prof. Dr Elisabeth Parmentier, dean of the Theological Faculty at the University of Geneva, commended the students for their boldness and courage.
“In addition to your institution, you also received certificates from Geneva University,” she said. “My congratulations go out to you all.”
Now comes the hardest part, Parmentier added: the students will go back to their countries with a new perspective. “This will be challenging for you since the people in your countries have not experienced what you have, nor have they shared your new friendship and insight,” she noted. “It would have been easier for you to stay in your bubble, but it would have been more difficult to learn other cultures and religions.”
She urged students to keep exploring the world. “Don't forget to put what you've learned into practice,” she said. “It is important to know and learn from each other.”
Rev. Dr Joomee Hur, professor of Ecumenical Missiology, spoke as a faculty representative during graduation. Hur co-led the course of study with Fr Prof. Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi.
Hur reflected on the busy schedule of the interreligious course. “Each religion demonstrated its prayer during spiritual sharing in the morning,” said Hur. “Following that, they read and reflected on their scriptures under the similar theme.”
People freely asked questions and made comments about other faiths—and those questions were carefully answered by those of other faiths, Hur added. “The path to bridge religion and health was illuminated by people of faith,” Hur said. “There is always lively discussion in this small group.”
The students have built a close fellowship, Hur concluded. “Best wishes for your return home,” said Hur. “I thank God who is kind, merciful, and slow to anger for allowing us to meet.”
Sheikh Hafid Ouadiri, Foundation de l’Entre-Connaissance, Geneva, agreed that it is important to learn from one another. “Each one of us has their own way to believe,” said Ouadiri. “But each one of us need the basic human relationship.”
Student representative, Rabbi Margo Hunges-Robinson, expressed gratitude to the World Council of Churches and the University of Geneva.
“Our instructors, both those who are present with us and in absentia, we cannot thank you enough,” said Hunges-Robinson. “We've learned so much from each of you, and each of you is a living example of what it means to live a life of faith and pursue healing in the world.”
The Bossey graduating class also produced a message for the world, and planted a cherry tree with a special ceremony that included reading scriptures from various traditions.