Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity (YATRA) began at the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre, Hong Kong on 7 July. Drawing young women and men from across the World Council of Churches (WCC) fellowship in Asia as well as theological institutions, the focus of this year’s YATRA is ‘Passionately Christian and Compassionately Interreligious’.
Rev. Dr Lo Lung-Kwong, general secretary, Hong Kong Christian Council, preached at the opening service to mark the inauguration of YATRA. Lo remembered how his own ministry was shaped through his involvement in the ecumenical movement, and exhorted YATRA participants to recover the ‘movement’ dimension of the ecumenical movement for the well-being of all in a multi-religious world.
The participants were welcomed by Dr Tong Wing-Sze, director of the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre which is jointly organising this year’s YATRA in collaboration with the WCC. “Inheriting the vision from our founder Karl Ludvig Reichelt, we always hope that Tao Fong Shan can serve as a meeting place with people from different culture and religions in Asia and the wider ecumenical community,” Tong said.
Tong reminded the participants that this was a special year for YATRA since it commemorated the 5th year of the successful organising of YATRA and the WCC’s 70th anniversary. “By bringing Asian youth of different cultures and traditions together in prayer, studies and dialogue, it is my belief that the Tao Fong Shan Centre can hopefully contribute to the future development of the ecumenical movement,” said Tong.
Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, WCC programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, outlined the vision of YATRA. “At the heart of the YATRA course is the vision to enhance the interreligious competencies of our member churches through cultivating a new generation of ecumenical leaders who are passionately Christian and compassionately interreligious,” said Rajkumar. “At YATRA, through participatory and praxis-oriented learning, young ecumenical leaders learn what it means to do ‘dialogue with our feet firmly planted in the ground’ so that interreligious dialogue ceases to be a cerebral exercise and becomes a grassroots movement”.