WCC work on interreligious dialogue and cooperation, interreligious dialogue conference, Geneva, 2005, Photo: WCC

WCC work on interreligious dialogue and cooperation, interreligious dialogue conference, Geneva, 2005, Photo: WCC

Bringing together nearly 50 participants from over 20 nations and many Christian traditions, the online gathering focused on the recent publication Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19 and Beyond, the most recent fruit of WCC’s long-standing collaborative partnership with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID).

The meeting opened with reflections from Fr Paulin Batairwa Kubuya (Under-Secretary, PCID), who stressed that as well as providing practical guidelines for interreligious cooperation, the document also offered a scriptural and theological rationale for such work.

Three responses from representatives of WCC member churches and ecumenical partner organizations affirmed the value of Serving a Wounded World as a resource for the churches, while also commenting on the opportunities and challenges in their contexts.

Speaking from Cairo, Samira Luka, Senior Director for Dialogue, Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), gave many examples of the work of CEOSS  in encouraging the ‘participation of Egyptians from all segments of society—Muslim and Christian, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, powerful and powerless—to work together toward common goals’.

From the Diocese of Mumias in the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Rt Revd Dr Joseph Wandera spoke of the importance to his clergy of the strong scriptural element in Serving a Wounded World; the document provides valuable motivation for interreligious work in a sometimes fragile environment.

Katerina Pekridou, Executive Secretary at the Conference of European Churches (CEC), offered an Orthodox theological perspective, emphasizing the centrality of the creation of all human beings in the divine image and likeness for interreligious engagement. Interreligious solidarity is a response to rising Islamophobia, antisemitism and racism, she said.

A wide-ranging plenary discussion further explored the document’s scriptural framework, especially its remarks on the parable of the Good Samaritan, while members also gave practical examples from their own work of interreligious collaboration for the common good.

Reflecting on the online session, Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, coordinator of the team for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the WCC, commented: “Along with our colleagues at the PCID, we are deeply encouraged by the positive reception that Serving a Wounded World is receiving in so many parts of the world. We look forward to continuing to work with and learn from our member churches and ecumenical partners in this vitally important field of interreligious solidarity.”