By Camille Vianin*
From 15-20 September, about 40 Ecumenical Officers of member churches from all over the world spent four days discussing and sharing common issues at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey and the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.
Participants said they appreciated the substantive programme. They learned about WCC communication strategy, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, Faith and Order, the WCC Assembly 2021, Ecumenical Diakonia, WCC 70th anniversary and the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism 2018, among other programmes.
Asked about their expectations and experience during those few days, three Ecumenical Officers shared their impressions about the meeting.
Rev. Prince Devanandan, president and ecumenical officer of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, said he came to represent his church to the WCC and to maintain good relationships with other member churches. He also wants to ensure that the programme and agenda of the WCC is disseminated to his own church. He was pleased to receive an update on WCC projects and want to participate in WCC programmes. He learnt different ways of engaging his church and is willing to participate actively in the 2021 Assembly.
“I have learnt new ways to participate and contribute to WCC programmes”.
Pastor Sonia Skupch, general secretary and ecumenical officer of Iglesia Evangélica del Rìo de la Plata in Argentina felt the responsibility to represent her church and the Latin American region. She came to the Ecumenical Officers Meeting because she would like to engage more deeply with the WCC. She said the meetings were very intense: She learnt how to engage her church more and she will bring many ideas back home. She also particularly cherished sharing time with ecumenical officers of other member churches. She felt she had extended her network and found it very beneficial.
“I will go back home with many new ideas and contacts”.
Rev. Stephen Kendall, principal clerk and ecumenical officer of the Presbyterian Church of Canada came to meet colleagues from member churches from the entire world. For him, it is the perfect place to discuss with others in a relaxing environment and to share about common issues. He will go back home with a bag full of WCC stuff (books, information on the programme, gifts…) received at the marketplace. More seriously, he said he made good connections with other member churches to work on justice for “indigenous people”, a central preoccupation for his church. He was also pleased to receive an update on the work of the WCC and learnt how he could contribute more.
“We have common issues among churches. I made connections to work on justice for indigenous people”.
The motor engineers of the ecumenical movement (WCC press release of 18 September 2017)
*Camille Vianin is currently an intern at WCC Communications.