As the Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity opened at the Yonsei University Chapel in South Korea on 18 September, participants were already learning to live into the theme “Stewards of Hope, Seekers of Harmony.”
For the first time, the training includes not only young people from Asia but from across the world. It is being co-coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Programmes on Interreligious Dialogue and Youth in the Ecumenical Movement, alongside the Council for World Mission (CWM), and World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
Rev. Dr Lee Hong-Jung, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea, spoke of the value of participating in an interreligious pilgrimage. “Through such an inter-religious common experience we may develop a collective wisdom and strategy to transform the broken and wounded world into a healed and reconciled world,” said Hong-Jung. “I sincerely wish that your experience of interreligious pilgrimage for justice and peace on the Korean Peninsula would provide all of you an eye-opening experience and strengthen your transformative will to cultivate peace on the world.”
Prof. Dr Soo-Young Kwon, dean of the College of Theology and the United Graduate School of Theology of Yonsei University welcomed the participants to the campus. “You are the main characters of peace and justice in an age of division and inequalities across the whole globe," said Kwon.
Sudipta Singh, Council for World Mission mission secretary, said that the young participants are creating a new hope. “You are the today and the future of the world,” said Singh. "So let’s start this journey, and build a new world with all religions and all faith traditions, a space where all can live, whether they are human or otherwise, and can thrive.”
Rev. Dr Peniel Rufus Rajkumar, WCC programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, explained why Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity is abbreviated with the word “YATRA,” which refers to “pilgrimage” in many Indo-Asian religions and languages. “A pilgrimage that started for young people around the world after the WCC Busan Assembly and that would have been incomplete without our brothers and sisters from different faith traditions,” Rajkumar said. “Here we are today sharing a vision that leads towards a future of excellence and commitment to the wellbeing of humanity and also our creation.”