The World Council of Churches (WCC) is hosting the annual meeting of an international group of people with responsibilities for ecumenical relations in several member churches of the WCC. The spring session of the gathering of the Ecumenical Officers Network is taking the theme “pilgrimage of justice and peace” as the inspiration for learning, reflective study and discussion on current developments in the ecumenical movement.
The meeting is held from 28 April to 1 May at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey.
The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is a call to the ecumenical movement which emerged from the WCC Busan assembly in late 2013. During the meeting in Bossey, the group is devoting significant time to explore the pilgrimage, seeing what meaning it has for the WCC, its member churches and their own personal lives.
The agenda covers numerous themes that provide a in focus in the programme areas of the WCC, among them youth in the ecumenical movement, inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, and diakonia and public witness.
The WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, joined the group on 29 April to share reflections on the current work and role of the WCC inspired by the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.
“Since Busan, we have been developing our work together within the context of the pilgrimage of justice and peace. We did not begin this journey but we have joined this journey in progress with others. Still, it provides the WCC a focus and a framework for our vocation as a global fellowship,” said Tveit.
Tveit identified the ecumenical officers’ network as being significant for promoting a “crucial level of relationships between the Council and the member churches.”
Throughout the four days of the meeting many staff members of the WCC have been involved in contributing to the programme. On 30 April around 40 participants were invited to spend the day at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, where they were guided in prayer by the WCC staff members from the office of Worship and Spiritual Life.
Participants in the meeting also learnt about the Global Christian Forum (GCF). Larry Miller, the GCF general secretary, met the group at the Ecumenical Centre and presented the vision of the GCF and many of the thematic issues with which it works, as well as how it relates with the WCC and its contributions to the ecumenical movement.
The meeting of the Ecumenical Officers Network aims to address four objectives: an opportunity to learn about current activities in the life of the WCC; receiving input from participants into programme plans, vision, and the work of nurturing the fellowship of churches; providing a space for rich discussions on issues facing our churches today; and encouraging and equipping a strong network of those responsible for ecumenical relations in the WCC's member churches, offering the opportunity for fellowship and building professional connections.
Martina Viktorie Kopecká, from the Czechoslovak Hussite Church is the youngest participant of the meeting. She appreciated the “very good atmosphere in the meeting” and pointed out the challenge of the reception of the concept of the pilgrimage in different contexts.
“Although the reception of the concept of the Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace might have been a little complex for some churches, ministers and congregations, meetings like these help us to be equipped to carry on the call issued by the WCC 10th Assembly,” she said.
Kopecká is a member of the WCC Executive Committee and of the WCC’s ECHOS Commission.
The meeting closes on 1 May with sessions dedicated to themes such as inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, the work of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission and the value of communication in sharing of ecumenical message.