With aspirations to learn and contribute to the work of the World Council of Churches (WCC) inter-religious dialogue and cooperation department, Matias Ikkala from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has commenced working this week as a WCC intern.
A postgraduate in religious studies from the University of Helsinki, 24 year old Ikkala will be based at the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland for the next 12 months. He will participate and help in organizing events covering the theme of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
As a student of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism, Ikkala hopes to learn more about inter-religious cooperation as carried out in the ecumenical environment.
“The field of inter-religious dialogue is wide and comes with different and diverse perspectives,” he said. “It is my hope that I get to acquire professional experience on how churches work for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. When I go back to my home church, I hope to use my ecumenical learning in their projects for interfaith cooperation,” added Ikkala.
Christian Muslim dialogue is of special interest to Ikkala. “I am very interested to learn about the role of the Middle Eastern Orthodox and Oriental churches in the current changes in the Arab world,” he said. While participating in WCC events, Ikkala hopes to extend his knowledge in this field.
Ikkala has also written several articles on themes related to religion, arts and spirituality for Finnish magazines, as well as for online websites and blogs.