A seminar at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Switzerland gathered diverse reflections on eco-theology, care for the creation and climate change, and how to build a sustainable world. The contributors included Christian theologians and activists as well as youth.
Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) programme Care for Creation and Climate Justice and the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, the seminar was held 14 to 17 May. More than thirty international participants came together to address the theme “Eco-theology: caring for creation today and building a sustainable world for tomorrow”.
A two-day meeting of the working group on climate change followed the seminar, focusing on preparations for the WCC’s upcoming assembly and advocacy at the United Nations forums. The WCC 10th Assembly is set to take place in Busan, Republic of Korea, 30 October to 8 November, under the theme “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.
Ernst M. Conradie, senior professor of religion and theology at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, opened the seminar raising contemporary challenges to Christian eco-theology after fifty years of debates on the subject. Conradie was also the guest editor of the latest issue of The Ecumenical Review on “ecumenical and ecological reflections on the God of life”.
Looking for an adequate theological rationale for Christian earth keeping, his address raised issues of ethics, biblical, systematic and pastoral theology as well as interfaith implications. Stressing the counter-intuitive character of the Christian witness of communities, he pleaded for an eco-theology embodied in the Christian values that promote care for creation.
At the seminar, presenters from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific region shared how churches and communities are addressing issues related to ecological destruction and climate change at the grassroots level. They shared theological reflections on climate change and how they are asking governments and international community to have effective policies responding to the most vulnerable communities.
The event featured voices of experts working in the field of climate justice for more than twenty years, and innovative perspectives were shared by a group of seven young participants. Their stories, insights and experiences contributed to the theme. Some of them are engaged in youth organizations conducting campaigns on eco-justice.
The seminar included opportunities to work at the ecological garden of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey. “We are in the process of making planting in the garden part of the curriculum for theology students of the institute, so that this experience can also be part of their ecumenical formation,” explained Dr Amele Ekue, professor of social ethics at the Ecumenical Institute and one of the co-organizers of the seminar.
In the meeting of the working group on climate change, the WCC staff members gave presentations on the process towards the WCC assembly. Rev. Dr Grace Ji-Sun Kim, author of the recent book Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit, introduced participants to the realities of the Korean churches and their theological journey.
“Outcomes of the seminar and working group’s discussions will contribute to preparation for the WCC assembly making participants part of the pilgrimage for justice and peace towards and beyond Busan. Some of them will have the opportunity to coordinate workshops and exhibitions during the assembly,” said Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice.