Framed around the Bible verse “Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), the prayer service was also inspired by the harmonies of the student choir.
By way of offering a reflection on what it means for the Bossey Ecumenical Institute to be a witnessing community, Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, WCC interim deputy general secretary, read a passage from Suzanne de Diétrich’s “The Witnessing Community.” Diétrich was the first director of studies at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute when it was established in 1946. Her focus was on entering with students into ecumenical Bible studies that engage the Word of God with contemporary concerns.
Diétrich’s text notes that the Bible offers no ready-made blueprints that we can follow. “Its ethics are not static, but dynamic; they are not a set of rules, but a demand for concrete obedience to the Lord of the church here and now, in every new situation,” Diétrich writes. “Every generation, in communion with the long chain of witnesses who have preceded it and under the guidance of the same Spirit, must grasp anew the tasks that the Lord of the church sets before it.”
At a celebration following the service, WCC acting general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute Bossey Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca offered words of warm welcome, thanking students and staff from past and present for Bossey’s one-of-a-kind ecumenical learning through intercultural dialogue.
Rev. Prof. Dr Simone Sinn, who serves as academic dean at Bossey, presented a slideshow with historic photos from the WCC Archives that celebrated the Bossey Ecumenical Institute’s many milestones. Sinn accompanied students on this “verbal walk through history,” bringing many moments of appreciation to both current students and former generations.
Sinn then moderated intergenerational discussions with five students who were eager to share their reflections. During the conversation, students discussed ecumenical spirituality—which encounters have touched their hearts and gave hope for their ministry in church and society.