A “Walk of Peace” on 23 August in Amsterdam gathered hundreds of young people and religious leaders who, as they strolled together, celebrated the ecumenical movement and challenged each other to accomplish even more.
The walk paused for reflection and prayer at several houses and buildings - including a synagogue, the Sant’ Egidio Community, the Armenian Church, and many others - all of which carried stories of blessings, wounds and transformation.
Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee, spoke on behalf of the WCC, and was joined by speakers from the Council of Churches in Amsterdam, Free University in Amsterdam, and the organization PAX, a nonprofit peace organization in the Netherlands.
Abuom urged people to make tomorrow greater than yesterday and today.
“The establishment of the WCC is because our ancestors believed in a peaceful and prosperous future in spite of the World War I and II experiences and devastation inflicted on the people and nature,” she said. “Our founding mothers and fathers had hope.”
Unfortunately the wisdom of youth does not receive its due attention, Abuom continued. “May I on behalf of the adults on this walk repent the bureaucratization and tokenization of young people in the ecumenical movement,” she said. “Our repentance is because the youth were not bystanders of the movement but rather the root and foundation of the ecumenical movement.”
The engagement of young people in the ecumenical movement is imperative for its future, Abuom reflected. “Let us move to the spaces where transformation and formation of leaders who will carry through the vision of ecumenism can be realized,” she said.
Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairperson of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the umbrella for Reformed, Lutheran and United Protestant churches, also spoke during the Walk of Peace. “It is wonderful to be here together with Christians from the Netherlands and from all parts of the world and say joyfully: ‘Happy birthday, WCC!!’
Bedford-Strohm added: “It is wonderful to be here and feel what the WCC is all about; feel the brother and sisterhood around Christ which intimately connects us beyond our various cultural and denominational backgrounds. I thank God on this day for the blessings which 70 years of WCC have meant for the church and for the world.”
Pilgrims gather from far and wide to celebrate 70 years of WCC (WCC press release of 23 August 2018)
“Love will find a way” (WCC press release of 23 August 2018)