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Practicing the interfaith discipline of hope

Last September I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the first time as part of my sabbatical year. How does one encounter these two places that are such containers of pain, suffering and for me, as an American, complicity? To be a tourist feels wrong and I ended up contemplating the World Council of Churches (WCC) model of pilgrimages of justice and peace as a way to be in a space of suffering, and as a way to practice accompaniment, commitment and perhaps even hopefulness.

Japan’s churches urge nuclear-free world

In July 2014, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee adopted a statement entitled "Towards a Nuclear-free World." In the same year, on 4 August, on behalf of the world's 500 million Christians, WCC Asia president Dr Chang Sang visited Japan, and delivered this statement in person to the chief cabinet secretary of the Japanese government, Yoshihide Suga. The churches in Japan, which experienced Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were greatly encouraged by these WCC actions.

75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: has your country ratified the UN treaty?

August 2020 will mark 75 years since nuclear bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki – devastating these cities and killing several hundred thousands. Since the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1948 where those gathered declared that war with atomic weapons was a “sin against God and a degradation of man,” the WCC has continued to call for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and the existential threat that they pose to all humanity.

Treating the underlying conditions

On May 24, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA hosted a memorial service for lives lost to COVID-19. In a time of physical distancing, the church ecumenical gathered online for “A Time to Mourn,” drawing thousands together to remember and lament. Grounded in our hope in the resurrection, the Rev. Elizabeth A Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, declared, “The body of Christ is COVID-positive.”

Lamentation in a Pandemic

Two months ago, I would not have spent a Sunday afternoon driving through a deserted city. There were people out and about, walking with children in strollers, jogging, laughing. Some were driving to do errands and buy groceries. Although it was sunny, there was still a somber pall over the city. I am told the same is true of New York and Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and other cities.

Catching the moment

Will the COVID-19 pandemic be remembered as a time when everything changed, as a unique moment in history that all can personally relate to? It has already changed a lot for many – while many people have been hit very hard, almost all have faced totally new situations, having to adopt new daily routines, think differently.

Tax justice in a time of COVID-19 crisis

When the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, was recently admitted to hospital with COVID-19, spending a few days in intensive care, a number of British politicians and journalists talked about how the virus was the great leveller. Everyone from street cleaners to world leaders could get the disease; no-one was immune, therefore, we must all follow the same social distancing guidelines. But as Iñigo Aymar of Oxfam has pointed out, COVID-19 is not so much the great leveller, but the great revealer.

In times of global crisis, time to formulate the narrative of the way out

In just a couple of weeks an invisible virus got the world economy on its knees and made 2020 the year of postponement. Not only concerts and conferences, sports and theaters have been suspended or postponed. Even pivotal UN meetings have been postponed and among them the UNFCCC COP 26 in Glasgow. A meeting that should have at its best ramped up the ambitions to cut the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Incredible amounts of money have been thrown in by different governments of the world to keep the economy from a total collapse. And no one seems to be against it.

Displacement in a time of climate change

Cyclone Tino - the second cyclone to visit Fiji in less than 3 weeks - disrupted our plans to visit several climate-impacted communities in the island of Vanua Levu as part of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in the Pacific. Heavy rains rendered impassable the roads leading to the Naviavia community.

Hoping for hope

Do you know of the five stages of grief? When it comes to the climate crisis, I am close to having gone through all of them: years ago I could not believe how bad Mother Earth has been affected by how humans are treating her. I thought it can't be as bad as the scientists say: denial.

How difficult it is to go on a pilgrimage of peaceful coexistence

Over the last 5 years, the World Council of Churches has been following the process that led Colombia to a Peace Agreement. During these three years since its signing, the WCC has met with government agencies responsible for its implementation and heard reports from the UN Verification Mission, from the Kroc Institute, and from the Truth Commission and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.