“The COVID-19 pandemic posed enormous challenges in 2020. Well-coordinated communication support to the fellowship, has been – and still is – pivotal in addressing this situation”, says WCC Communication Director, Marianne Ejdersten and added “Communications from the WCC must be inclusive and have participation and hope at their core. Our task is to ignite hope for a better world where human dignity prevails.”
Established last spring to share best practises around COVID-19 communications, the REO now comprises all kinds of ecumenical communication issues. Implications of the second wave of the virus and the tense political situation in the USA, are currently dominating the agenda along with communication around the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU) and other events.
“In smaller organisations, we communicators work mostly by ourselves. It is great to hear insights and experiences from fellow communication colleagues in other regional ecumenical organisations. Such networking and support is an antidote to how we communicators often work by ourselves in small organisations, especially in the challenging COVID times, says Naveen Qayyum, communication officer at Conference of European Churches in Brussels, Belgium.
One such region is represented by the All Africa Conference of Churches’ office in Nairobi, Kenya, which, according to the body’s communication consultant, Patrick Mwangi, is currently focusing on accompanying member churches in conflict mediation.
“Silencing guns across the African continent remains our top priority. This network allows us to raise awareness about the situation on the African continent and the challenges we face”, he says.
In Beirut, Lebanon, Middle East Council of Churches’ communications director Huguette Salameh and her team are busy supporting member churches in encouraging people to get vaccinated:
“Coping with the pandemic is yet another challenge for our region which requires well-coordinated communication. The REO network is a very useful forum for support to the fellowship”, she points out.
Her colleague in Washington DC, Cynthia Griffiths, director of communications and development at the National Council of Churches in the USA, agrees:
“Communication support is essential in times of trouble. Here in the US, we are now dealing with two unprecedented crises at the same time; a pandemic with 4 000 deaths per day and a tumultuous political situation”, she explains.
Along with communication colleagues from councils in Asia, Canada, the Pacific and Latin America, as well as the WCC, this constellation will continue to inspire and ensure well-coordinated communication efforts.
“Communication is by definition a discipline which involves a lot of listening and learning. This network helps us understand and cope with the challenges different contexts pose”, concludes Claus Grue, WCC communication consultant.