Throughout the session, the image of a cedar tree from the Middle East, embraced and hugged by children from different parts of the world, was present on the main screen. Plenary moderator, Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC central committee, explained how cedar trees are known for their strength and resilience. “They remind us of the bonds of our life over generations,” she said.
H.E. Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, leader of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, also offered a keynote presentations. “Together as communities, churches, cities, and nations, we must change route and discover new ways of working together to break down the traditional barriers between peoples to stop competing for resources and start collaborating,” he said.
H.E. Archbishop Angaelos, delegate of the Coptic Orthodox Church, offered a keynote on reconciliation and unity in the Middle East.
Angealos compared the roots of a tree to that of the roots of the church. “Every part of a tree has importance and effectiveness,” he said. “The stronger the roots, the more that each and every part of that tree can express its effectiveness, purpose and function.”
Panelists Bjorn Warde, delegate of the Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago, and Julia Rensberg, delegate of the Church of Sweden and representative of the Sami Council within the Swedish Church, offered reflections on the assembly theme from their own perspectives and context.
Warde spoke of the reckless exploitation of natural resources in the Caribbean. “I’m hearing the Earth as she cries out to us,” he shared. “This has emboldened our youth in becoming instruments for reconciliation for the whole of creation.”
“We Indigenous live at the border of the climate crisis,” said Reinsberg, who noted how she sees firsthand the climate crisis affecting nature. “Our livelihoods, our culture and languages are equally threatened,” she said. “To affirm God’s love in the whole of creation, we the global community need to live and protect Mother Earth.”