Our pilgrimage needs child-friendly churches

by Frederique Seidel last modified 05 October 2015 12:01 PM
Our pilgrimage needs child-friendly churches

At Unalaska United Methodist Church. © Paul Jeffrey/WCC

18 September 2015

Today is a very special day for me as the new partnership between the WCC and UNICEF has been signed and officially launched!

The actual work has been on-going for a year, but this signature is of great symbolic value. It confirms at the highest level of both organisations that Christian communities have a strong role to play for children. Through this partnership all member churches and partners of the WCC are encouraged to engage in child rights advocacy.

In some countries, this means churches help to engage young people in climate change initiatives through Sunday schools. In other countries, pastors receive training to help them respond to domestic violence. In pilot countries the collaboration leads to joint action plans between WCC member churches and UNICEF.

What’s the specifically Christian call in this?

While UNICEF has collected strong scientific evidence on the importance to implement children’s rights and prevent violence against children, churches have a significant theological legacy for the commitment to children’s rights.

Christian faith underlines the importance to reach out to and support the most vulnerable. Because of this belief many churches are sensitive to the special responsibility to care for children.

Children are particularly vulnerable but also bring a strong potential for participation in decisions affecting their lives. Sunday schools, summer camps and other activities for children to learn and experience fellowship play an important role in many member churches to reach out to children.

The WCC, from a faith-based perspective, will call upon its member churches to participate in strategic efforts to improve the lives of children through the development and implementation of child rights principles and tools.

Why do churches need to be involved in child rights advocacy?

Because they are witnesses of the realities of children at the grassroots level. By reporting child rights violations they are aware of through UN human rights mechanisms, churches can play a very important role in concrete responses and measures to be taken for child protection.

And what have child rights got to do with the pilgrimage of justice and peace?

Preventing the suffering of human beings in their childhood is a significant contribution to the pilgrimage of justice and peace. When they are supported and empowered, children are often at the origin of innovative solutions that contribute to peace for the whole community.

Participation of children and advocacy for child rights take the pilgrimage of justice and peace a big step forward.

Disclaimer

The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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