Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

WCC calls on churches everywhere to walk together, viewing their common life, their journey of faith, as a part of a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. We invite you to join in celebrating life and in taking concrete steps toward transforming injustices and violence.

Christians and their communities around the world are aware today, as never before, that life itself is in peril. So many dangers — climate change, certainly: but also poverty and economic injustice, threats to health and well-being, violence and war — endanger humanity and can drain our hope. Yet precisely for that reason, the shared faith and commitment of Christians everywhere are necessary, affirming the God of life and the resilient hope offered to us in the life, the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians are called to affirm, sustain, and protect life.

This is an ecumenical calling. One God of life, one creation, one humanity call the one church of Jesus Christ to commitment and engagement wherever peace and justice are threatened or destroyed.

As an expression of the worldwide Christian fellowship, the WCC calls on churches everywhere to walk together, viewing their common life, their journey of faith, as a part of a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. We invite you to join together with others in celebrating life and in taking concrete steps toward transforming injustices and violence.

The invitation to pilgrimage is therefore also a summons to a way of life and a transformative spirituality of justice and peace. To encounter the vulnerable, and to find oneself in a vulnerable place and becoming vulnerable to others, is to be purged of one’s own prejudices, preoccupations, and priorities — stripped down to face God and God’s own aim for the world. It is a transformative journey, a conversion to the needs of others and the vision of God.


Background texts: 

Walking Together

Theological Reflections on the Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

What does it mean to go on pilgrimage? And further: what does it mean for Christians around the world to understand their discipleship in terms of pilgrimage in God’s realm of justice and peace?

Bible studies on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

A series of Bible studies for the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJP) reflects diverse examples and stories of different pilgrimages in the Bible and dialogue between the biblical contexts and contemporary contexts. It also reflects different aspects of pilgrimage and encourages readers to reflect and embark on their individual and community pilgrimages.

The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJP), as the framework for the fellowship of member churches and ecumenical partners, is also meant to inspire personal and congregational engagement with concrete issues of social justice and peace.

Together, these Bible studies provide food for our journey. They can inform and animate congregational life as well as that of the whole fellowship. We invite congregations to use these Bible studies as they reflect on what it means to be on such a pilgrimage in their own context.

Jonah 4:1-11 “Invitation to tolerance and compassion”, by Magali do Nascimento Cunha (Pilgrimage Bible study)

The story of Jonah is about the compassionate God whose mercy has no geographical, cultural, political, and economic frontier. The dialogue between God and Jonah (Jonah 4:1-11), which is considered the climax of the Book of Jonah, is an invitation to overcome intolerance and to cultivate compassion. The dialogue consists of two main parts: the anger of Jonah (v. 1-5) and the compassion of God (v. 6-11). In the dialogue, Jonah becomes angry, but God responds to him with two questions: “Is it good for you to be angry?” (v. 4) and “Is it good for you to be angry about the plant?” (v. 9) which indicate the limitless and universal mercy of God. In this way, the story of Jonah invites us to the pilgrimage of tolerance and compassion.

WCC Programmes

Luke 24:13-35 "Pilgrimage to Emmaus", by Guido Dotti

The journey of the disciples to Emmaus in Luke 24 is not a pilgrimage toward Jerusalem but leaving it disillusionment. It is a journey of finding our hearts burning as the disciples of Emmaus’s hearts were burning at the moment of sharing a meal. The text invites us to find our own Emmaus where our heart to be kindled. Each of us meets unknown pilgrims who hide an unknown Jesus, but especially meets and encounters him- or herself, discovers that that he or she has a heart that hopes, eyes to see and ears to listen, and finds him- or herself in full solidarity with every human being. The story speaks about three places in which we meet the Risen Christ: scripture, eucharist, and community. It is a pilgrimage of hope and of expectation by listening to the Word, breaking the bread, and hearing the voice of the other because everyone is created in God’s image.

WCC Programmes

Ephesians 2:11-21 "A pilgrimage of unity", by Susan Durber

In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul addresses the particular faith journey that the early Christians found themselves walking. Their pilgrimage is a journey of discovering the unity between Jews and the Gentiles, in which the Gentiles are welcomed into the covenant of promise. It invites us to wonder where God might be doing the work of reconciliation and building bridges today. God’s purpose is to lead all of us into unity with one another and to welcome those who were once strangers into the household. The reconciling love of God reaches beyond any borders.

WCC Programmes

Matthew 10:1-42 "Jesus Sends Out the Twelve – On a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace", by Fernando Enns

Jesus sends out his disciples to the world of injustice and violence. The disciples, who are on a pilgrimage, are not saints but ordinary people, and they are not sent with empty hands but with power to force out evil spirits (Matt. 10:1). As Jesus warns the disciples,“I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves” (Matt. 10:16). The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is not an easy walk. It is a courageous and costly participation in God’s pilgrimage of justice and peace. Today, refugees bring justice and peace because God wants to meet us in them. In this way, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace could be a channel of blessing because pilgrims themselves are the recipients.

WCC Programmes

Micah 6:1-8 "What Does God Expect of You? A Pilgrimage of Reconciliation with God and with Our Neighbor", by Jin Yang Kim

The prophet Micah asks a crucial question in the midst of injustice and violence in 8th-century B.C.E. Judean society: “What does God expect of you?” This is also a question that we must ask ourselves today as we are invited to join in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. The answer is clear: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). The first two commands stand at the centre of Israel’s faith-talk, concerning the love of neighbour (Lev. 19:18) and the love of God (Deut. 6:5). The third command is to walk humbly, which could be misleading. To walk humbly is the opposite of walking proudly or self-righteously, and actually invites us to the faith journey of self-giving, self-sacrifice, and self-emptying. So the question, “What does God expect of you?” leads us to the restoration of God’s image in us and is an invitation to become agents of transformation in the world.

WCC Programmes

Genesis 21:8-21 “Hagar’s Journey/Pilgrimage”, by Jennifer Martin

The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace reaches out to persons who are mired in the wilderness of injustice and who lack peace, as in the story of Hagar’s journey in Genesis. The story is reflected in the story of the Caribbean. Levels of inequality between women and men still exist in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. The story of Hagar unfolds God’s plans through selected agents. As the Caribbean seeks to journey toward peace and justice in the matter of social justice, human rights, and human reproductive rights, responsibilities and practices, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace can effectively play a supportive role.

WCC Programmes

Ruth 1:1–22 "Pilgrimage as Solidarity", by Yolanda Pantou

The migration of Ruth to Bethlehem can be understood as a kind of pilgrimage because she chose to immigrate as a form of solidarity with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Her journey of migration changes Ruth’s beliefs, values, and path of life. The text speaks about two stories of immigration—the first one is caused by scarcity of basic provisions, and the second one is propelled by solidarity. We can see similarities between pilgrimage and immigration. There are shared elements of journey, importance, unpredictability, encounters, conversion, solidarity, openness, closeness, and divine providence. The story of Ruth and Naomi provides a biblical understanding of pilgrimage of justice and peace in relation to immigration.

WCC Programmes

Genesis 12:1–9 “Pilgrimage onto already-settled land”, by Jione Havea

Abram’s journey in Genesis 12 as a response to God’s guidance becomes a pilgrimage of blessings. The unnamed destination of his pilgrimage is encountering people and their land. Abram will become a a kind of “platform” of blessings among other peoples and nations, rather than an exemplar of the exercise of power and control over those peoples and their land. As God commissioned Abram to go forth as a source of blessings, God calls us to go in the pilgrimage of blessings.

WCC Programmes

Pilgrim Team Visits express solidarity with churches and people who live in contexts of violence, injustice, and oppression, strengthening the ecumenical network among the churches, national councils of churches and related organizations. As a journey participating in God’s mission, Pilgrim Team Visits seek a mutual transformation of people - both visitors and hosts – walking together on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.  

A series of short publications featuring issues related to the churches’ involvement in the promotion of justice and peace in the most diverse contexts of the world.

Regional publication Latin America (Spanish/Portuguese)

Regional publication Canada (English)

The Africa We Pray For on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (English)