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Borders and Migrants

On 20 May 2022, a group of us, 14 pilgrims from different parts of the world (Kenya, Brussels, Germany, Hong Kong, Philippines, Poland, Rome, Korea, Canada, Fiji, Australia, London, Scotland, and Geneva—a very diverse group) gathered in Palermo, Italy for a Pilgrim Team Visit on the theme of migration. 

I Belong Volume 2

Biblical Reflections on Statelessness

This second publication of biblical reflections on statelessness presents new perspectives, including indigenous voices and reflections on the meaning of land. These texts can be valuable tools for discussion and reflection during Bible studies in congregations and communities around the world.

Indigenous peoples teach us about climate justice

As the earth undergoes the extreme stress of 21st century living, we are met with the consequential crossroads that will shape the rest of our lives and the future of humanity. How can we make such monumental decisions when this much is at stake? Which way do we go forth, and how shall we live our lives in the years to come? The answer may be as simple as urgency.

Beyond herself

She was asked to lead us in prayers for the people of the Balkans, especially Kosovo and Albania. Before praying, she shared a bit of her story. It was an important story, for she was living in another European country and her story intermingled with others who could easily have slipped through the cracks.

Taking a visible stand against gender-based violence in Uganda

Before I was born and as I grew up, there were many gender stereotypes that negatively affected women and girls. These included beating wives and not appreciating baby girls. In my culture, girls were deprived of education, because taking them to school was considered a waste of resources. Parents and the general communities looked at girls as sources of dowry (bride price) and so they were married off at an age of 14 -18 years.

Children on the Move

"It is discouraging to see people flee because of war and persecution, and it is even more disheartening that children—the most vulnerable—are part of that terrible experience." Lidia Lebang shares her impressions from the World Children’s Day celebration held by the World Council of Churches and UNICEF at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva last week, and the differences big and small that Christians can make in the lives of individuals and of the community.

Let the children come to me

The children were brought to Jesus in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. They were brought with hearts filled with hope and confidence. “Do not stop them” Jesus said. Today, on World Children’s Day, let us think about the 28 million refugee children who are driven from their homes by conflict, migrating in the hope of finding a safer life.

Impressions from Iraq

Returning from another visit to Iraq alongside Carla Khijoyan, the World Council of Churches' Middle East programme executive, and Fr Emanuel Youkhana of the Christian Aid Programme Northern Iraq (CAPNI), many images fill my mind: images of destruction, and of life hesitantly picking up again. Many uncertainties remain, prompting us to bend our heads and raise our prayers to the Lord.

The pain and the glory.

The days after the Ascension are a time of waiting and expectation, a time like the earliest disciples in Jerusalem in which to reflect on the meaning both of Jesus’ life and its significance for ourselves: indeed a season of both pain and glory. That is certainly the experience these days of our brothers and sisters in those lands where Christianity first began.

Intercultural community garden “Rainbow Land”

In Landskron, where I am a pastor of the Lutheran Church in Austria, we have a dynamic, growing and socially engaged congregation. Our town hosts hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers from various countries. While their papers are being processed, they are not allowed to work. In our interactions with the refugees and asylum seekers, they have expressed their frustration at not being able to use their time fruitfully. Most of them miss working, and the contact with the land.

Religious groups working for peace and love

Teenagers pose lots of challenges for any parent. Emotional, rebellious, and subject to inevitable pressures, it is undoubtedly difficult to raise children who are transitioning from becoming children to adults. I am in this situation—I have three. As I reflect on their growing into individualized people, I can only hope that, once they embark on their respective paths, they live in a society that is peaceful and accepting.

What dazzles is inequality

There is a financial wealth that goes beyond what we imagine, believe or are even able to understand, there is an economic system that devours lives and uses them as raw material for its insatiable appetite for growth and excessive development.

More voices contributing a wider range of experiences

At the annual conference in Uniting Church in Sweden at the beginning of May, we decided to change the procedures in the annual conferences to consensus methods, inspired by the Uniting Church in Australia and the World Council of Churches. Developing democracy is a proud legacy from our founding churches. As early as in the late 19th century, the founding churches used the principle one member, one vote. We hope that this decision is a way to live up to the legacy and to show that we still and always try to develop democracy.

On the road for life

"Unterwegs für das Leben," on the road for life, was the name chosen for an initiative started by the women's work section of the Evangelical Church in Baden in the eighties. Christian women went walking together along the Rhine from Karlsruhe to Basel, going from place to place in order to collect signatures in opposition to the upgrading of armaments and to hand these over to the disarmament conference in Geneva. The walk was combined with evening peace prayer vigils held in local churches.

Justice and peace in Nigeria and in Sweden

As a youth leader of The Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide, I am currently on a journey to Switzerland and Sweden to explore the ecumenical landscape on behalf of our church and also to learn firsthand about the work of the Church of Sweden. Journeying together can be a practical way for churches to engage in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace which invites member churches of the World Council of Churches and all people of goodwill to speak and act together in our continued search for peace in our troubled world.

What could the World Council of Churches do regarding global migration?

It's true: migration is a common phenomenon in human history. People have always been moving from one place to the other either forced by circumstances or by choice. However, in our post-colonial, post-cold-war world of globalization, with increased inequality both with in countries and between countries as well as with increased awareness and enhanced transport, the scale of human migration continues to grow every year.

A dream across the barbed-wire fence

A little girl, barely four years old, crawls underneath a barbed-wire fence at the Serbian-Hungarian border. Her face is straight as she glances ahead, irradiated by sunbeams; her fingers are cramped into the muddy soil. Hundreds of thousands refugees are on the move as I write these lines. A reality, which for so many in Europe these past years had remained remote, suddenly becomes close and subject of fierce controversies.

Boats, borders and Christmas parallels

We did not realize that we would get so close. We had imagined maybe seeing boats from afar, having to remind ourselves that what we saw in the water was people. As we stood on the beach in Molivos, there was no question about the reality of the situation as the boats came in. 45 people on boats designed for no more than ten. Most of them wore life vests, but not all. The entire range of emotions was expressed just after reaching land. As some took selfies and thanked God for reaching safely, others cried out in despair after seeing their own death in front of them on the terrifying journey.

Paris Attacks, COP21 and the WCC: Embracing the Other

Friday November 13, 2015's terror attacks in Paris, which followed on attacks in Baghdad and Beirut and preceded the attack in Yola, break my heart. All such attacks do. What makes people want to kill innocent people enjoying their Friday night with friends and family at a concert and in restaurants? Such attacks not only kill the bodies, they deeply wound the spirit.