Jerry Pillay

Pillay, in opening the ceremony, said it was a “privilege, a joy, and pleasure” to welcome all those who are graduating. “We have treasured the time we’ve had together in these two weeks,” he said. “It’s a special day for those who have been though the program.”

He added that he appreciated the collaboration during which “I see us not only talking and talking but I see us working and working—we have changed talk-shops into workshops,” he said.

In his keynote speech, Pillay reflected that the certificates the graduates are receiving reflect their new knowledge and broadened perspectives.

“But the experience you have had in these past nine days is much more than that,” he said.

“You’ve been brought into a context of great pluralism.”

EPF2 group photo graduation

The Emerging Peacemakers Forum has been a life-changing experience, added Pillay. “When we are thrown into a wider spectrum of things, our knowledge suddenly increases,” he said “You have crossed boundaries of language, of culture, of religious and social norms.”

He further reflected that, sometimes people come from places and spaces that have been  narrowed and restricted. “You have been thrown into a whirlpool of new experiences,” he said. “I would like to think that going through this particular program has helped you to become champions of peacemaking.”

As the graduates have received the basic tools to continue the task of becoming peacemakers, Pillay encouraged them to develop wings and fly even higher for peace.

“Our world is a very messy place at the moment,” he said, “Into this context, we are called to speak as religious people.”

He asked the students: “How do we have an alternative message for a world that is struggling, for a world that is broken, for a world that is need of healing and restoration?”

These young people, Pillay said, have been chosen to follow a trend of becoming peacemakers. "You are the ones to live an alternative lifestyle,” he said. “Peace is possible.”

He urged the graduates to never give up on the hard work of peacemaking. “I can tell you, it might have take years but I have seen, by God’s grace, the mystery of God at work…transforming lives, changing behaviors,” he said. “This is what were trying to promote.”

The real value of what graduates have gained will bear fruit in how they put it into practice, Pillay concluded. “It’s what you do with what you have received,” he said. “Go out and be disciples and children of God, working with God to transform and heal a broken and suffering world.”

Watch the graduation ceremony

Photo gallery of the graduation ceremony

Photo gallery of the Emerging Peacemakers Forum 2023

Learn more about the Emerging Peacemakers Forum

"Muslim Council of Elders says peacemakers conference to empower young people" - WCC news release 12 July 2023

"Middle East parliamentarian warns young Christian, Jewish, and Muslim peacemakers of social media hazards" - WCC news release 12 July 2023

Media invited to attend Emerging Peacemakers Forum graduation ceremony  - WCC media advisory 11 July 2023

"Young peacemakers visit UN, WCC Ecumenical Centre in Geneva" - WCC news release 10 July 2023

"Participants at the Emerging Peacemakers Forum send a message of hope to COP28" - WCC news release 9 July 2023

"Vigilance needed to avoid likes of Rwanda genocide, war in Ukraine, says UN adviser" - WCC feature story 9 July 2023

"For spiritual nourishment, 'practise humanity,' says Mama Shamsa" - WCC feature story 8 July 2023

"Peace is not a given these days, but keep talking, says daughter of Holocaust survivor" - WCC feature story 7 July 2023

"Young Christians, Jews, and Muslims begin a peace-building journey" - WCC news release 6 July 2023

EPF2 cake ceremony

From left to right: Rev. Dr Richard Sudworth, Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Prof. Rev. Dr Simone Sinn, dean at the WCC's Bossey Ecumenical Institute, H.E. Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, and Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, WCC General secretary.