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In pictures: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Prayers for unity took on a different look and feel this year, but they weren’t stopped by widespread restrictions on face-to-face gatherings. From prayer cards to personal reflections, online gatherings to new connections, the images worldwide convey the spiritual richness of an ecumenical family that came together in prayer.

Easter at home: celebrations still bring joy thanks to creative delivery

As Christians across the world prepare to celebrate Easter shuttered in their homes, they will still find the joy of the day and feel closer to each other, thanks to creative thinking by church leaders.

From including photos of church members within webcast worship services, to placing written greetings at doorways, Easter celebrations can still safely connect people who want to celebrate the resurrection of their common Lord.

In Japan, spirit of koinonia deepens

During a visit from World Council of Churches (WCC) deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC member churches in Japan received expressions of appreciation from the WCC for hosting various visits and forums that strengthened ecumenical ties.

WCC members in Japan reported a deepening spirit of koinonia as well as more involvement in the programmatic life of the WCC, particularly as the ecumenical movement sets its sights on the upcoming WCC 11th Assembly in 2021 in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Indian Orthodox Church Catholicos, Patriarch Kirill hold historic meeting

His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Supreme Head of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church, and Catholicos of the East, met with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at St Daniel Monastery in Moscow on 3 September.

His Holiness Catholicos Paulose II thanked Patriarch Kirill for the hospitality, stressing that “forty years have elapsed and now we as primates of our Churches can resume the exchange of visits. Your Holiness, your love and insight have helped to make it possible. Once again, thank you for it”.

In Korea, young ‘stewards of hope’ forge ahead together

As the Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity opened at the Yonsei University Chapel in South Korea on 18 September, participants were already learning to live into the theme “Stewards of Hope, Seekers of Harmony.” For the first time, the training includes not only young people from Asia but from across the world, and is being co-coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Programme for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, the Council for World Mission, and youth representatives from the ecumenical movement.

Asian Ecumenical Institute to train next generation of leaders

Twenty-seven young ecumenists from across Asia are currently attending the month-long Asian Ecumenical Institute organized by the Christian Conference of Asia. The programme aims to provide ecumenical formation and leadership development training for prospective church and ecumenical leaders. It is being held at the Christian Conference of Asia headquarters in Payap University Campus in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Peacemakers at work in Sri Lanka

In the wake of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, the Omnia Institute for Contextual Leadership, based in Chicago, lifted up points of hope that peace will win in the end. In a 25 April message, Shanta Premawardhana, president of the institute, wrote that every person of every faith of every nation deserves to wake up in peace. “Every child deserves to feel safe, welcomed, and alive to the promise that each day brings,” Premawardhana wrote. “I'm sure you know that this is why we build Interfaith Peacemaker Teams in Sri Lanka.”

Peace is common denominator of all major religions

The Christian Conference of Asia gathered over 100 participants representing seven religions including Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Bahai, Hindu and Sikh to meet with the participants of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace Reference Group to discuss relevant issues about religion and their implications to the Asian society.

Churches across the globe prepare for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

From 18-25 January, Christians will embark on the largest prayer gathering in the world, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Whether praying together, exchanging preachers or planning ecumenical services, they will bear witness to Jesus’s prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe.”

Rev. Dr Shanta Premawardhana: ‘Seeds of peace come from the ground’

“The seeds of peace come from the ground.” That is the vision that Rev. Dr Shanta Premawardhana, former director of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches and now president of OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership, tries to follow with his organization.

WCC calls for prayer for flood-stricken Kerala, India

As the worst flooding in half a century struck the southern India state of Kerala, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit called for prayers for those affected and for those responding, and expressed his sympathy for those who have lost loved ones in the disaster.

WCC condemns attack on renowned social activist in India

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit is condemning an attack on renowned social activist Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand state in northeast India. A violent mob of alleged fringe fundamentalist groups in the Pakur district attacked Agnivesh on the same day as a Supreme Court judgment called mob lynching unacceptable and holding the local administration, the state and central governments responsible for preventing it.

Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity starts in Hong Kong

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’.

Korean Christian leaders: churches have vital role in peace process

Korea’s Christian leaders have urged Catholics to work together with the WCC to help bring peace and reconciliation to their country. Rev. Dr Sang Chang, president of WCC’s Asia region, and Rev. Dr Lee Hong-jeong, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) were speaking as Pope Francis visited the headquarters of the ecumenical movement in Geneva to mark the WCC’s 70th anniversary.

WCC extends greetings as Buddhists observe Vesakh

As many Buddhists prepare to observe Vesakh on 29 April - a day commemorating the life and legacy of Gautama Buddha - WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit extended his greetings to Buddhists across the world.