Walk with me as I share such moments.
Every time we leave the Visser’t Hooft Hall, the Thursdays in Black Waterfall Tapestry of Solidarity and Resistance reminds us of the reality of gender-based violence. Launched at the WCC’s 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany, in September 2022, this cloth waterfall is six metress wide and 5 metres high. The 180 panels were sewn, quilted, embroidered, painted and hand-crafted by people all over the world, sharing their anguish and anger but also their solidarity, hope, and commitment to overcoming sexual and gender-based violence. Even if you have seen this dozens of times, it never fails to move. A publication is now being developed, giving an impression of this tapestry in their churches, homes, and organizations.
The coffee stations are busy, as is the large table with gifts and souvenirs. Central committee members are keen to collect an ecologically friendly coffee mug or a water bottle. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we fill our water bottles at water stations throughout the Ecumenical Centre.
To our right, we see a large map and 13 life-size cardboard human profiles. The exhibition of the Protestant Church in Switzerland (PCS) has two components, the Ecumenical Map of Switzerland and the Portraits of Swiss Disciples.
As a declared neutral country, Switzerland has a rich ecumenical history, the site of many international ecumenical and interreligious agreements, documents, institutions, and organizations. Switzerland’s map shows the Ecumenical Centre and other places and events relevant to the ecumenical movement where interreligious dialogue has taken place.
From the early days of the ecumenical movement, people in Switzerland have been moved by Christ’s love to commit their lives to unity and reconciliation within the Church and throughout the world. The Swiss Disciples exhibition shares the stories of 13 ecumenical women and men.
Getting to know the work of the WCC
Down the steps down to the right, we come to the ecumenical networking zone. Here central committee members can meet the staff and hear more about the programmatic work of the WCC.
In a comfortable lounge area, WCC staff from the Unity, Mission, and Ecumenical Formation programmatic area are in deep discussion about Faith and Order papers, the work done with EDAN (the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network) and missions on the margins, as well as possible collaboration with the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.
Highlighting their dynamic work, Public Witness and Diakonia staff at the standing desk passionately discuss many intersecting justice issues: gender; health; water; the economy; water, ecology, and climate; race; conflict, war and just peace; and more.
Commemorating 75 years
On our way back to the hall, we take a slow, thoughtful walk past the photo exhibition On a Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation and Unity – 75 years into the Journey as the World Council of Churches.
The 22 panels in this exhibit display the 11 WCC assemblies as key milestones in the council’s history. Matched with a photo from each assembly, we see glimpses into the life of the fellowship of churches today, illustrating the continuing fellowship to work and act together for justice, reconciliation, and unity, to seek a deeper understanding of one another, develop a broader dialogue, and build communities rooted in justice and peace.
The bell is ringing, and it is time to return to the plenary session. We return with a deeper understanding of the many facets of the WCC.