Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

Taking into consideration the growing global concerns and implications of the current spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the World Council of Churches (WCC) will postpone its annual Ecumenical Continuing Formation on Youth seminar in the Pacific to the end of the year 2020, with a date to be announced. The event was scheduled for June 2020 in Tonga.

The WCC is taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including cancelling or postponing certain meetings and limiting travels.

“The Tongan government has issued restrictions on civil servant nationals leaving Tonga, and a proposal to have all travellers arriving in Tonga to go through 14 days of quarantine prior to meeting their families or carrying out their businesses. With the Free Wesleyan Church, both the Annual Conference and Pre- Conference for youth, a motion has been passed to defer both indefinitely until further notice. As such our WCC sponsored Youth Conference is expected to be deferred as well,” remarked WCC’s president for the Pacific Rev. Dr Mele’ana Puloka.

In light of the postponement, the application deadline will also be extended to 29 May 2020.

"Now, more than ever, in the COVID-19 pandemic we see the big disparity between those with access to health care and those who don't; those with access to water and those without; those with access to information and those without; between the privileged and the oppressed; between citizens and stateless. Among these groups, the ones who are vulnerable and marginalised are women and girls, young people, indigenous people and those living with disabilities. Thus, the Ecumenical Continuing Formation on Youth is becoming more relevant in the church's ongoing response in addressing the disparities in the current world crisis," commented Joy-Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement.

The seminar which will be focusing on Transformative Masculinity and Femininity in the Pacific will include an integration with the National Tongan youth assembly, which draws 2,000 young people.