WCC Pilgrimage Blog

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Social media – sharing the Word, with the World Council of Churches

Although continents may remain apart “technology has made the world a global village.” In the real sense of the word, it’s the interconnection of technology that makes it a village. The World Council of Churches is not ignorant to this fact and hence maintains a vibrant social media presence. The effectiveness of these channels has come to light at the ongoing Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania.

Sowing Peace

I recently attended the conference on ‘Interreligious dialogue for peace: Promoting Peaceful coexistence and common citizenship’ organized by KAICIID in Vienna on the 26 and 27 of February. The conference brought together some high profile religious leaders (predominantly but not exclusively from the Christian and Muslim faiths) who spoke with a united voice for social cohesion, peaceful coexistence and respect for religious diversity.

Is there any room for talk of transition in the Christian message?

These days everyone uses the words “change” or “transformation” yet they are used to describe very different things. The French president Emmanuel Macron speaks of the transformation of the French economy through the liberalisation of labour laws, and in his book “India Transformed” Rakesh Mohan describes the benefits achieved by 25 years of neo-liberalism. So what do church-related aid organisations like Action de Carême, Pain pour le prochain and Etre partenaires mean when they use the word “transition”? Is this concept really part of the Christian message?

Worlds come together in prayer

A thousand associations come to my mind when the theme is prayer: My Lutheran parents prayed for me and with me when I was a child, and my uncle who was a Baptist minister began dinners with long free prayers. In church and at home we sang Danish hymns with wordings such as: “All good gifts come from above” and “Now we all give thanks to God”.

My first Confucian-Christian dialogue

The effects of certain types of experiences do not fade with time; rather they permeate deep into your existence to further broaden your understanding about the realities of life. For me the first Christian-Confucian Dialogue initiated by the World Council of Churches at South Korea was one such experience. It will stay with me for a long time and I will time travel back and forth from it to understand the complexities of inter-religious discussions.

For birth or death: the destiny of Bethlehem

I sometimes ask people if they know which is the first point in the Bible that Bethlehem gets a mention. And that normally offers them quite a challenge. People certainly move back from the New Testament into the Old – and come up with responses like, ‘the story of David’, or ‘the Book of Ruth’. Good thinking. But actually the first mention of Bethlehem in our Bibles (as they are now set out) occurs much earlier still.

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Power in this Nobel Peace Prize: truth told, truth heard

A Nobel Peace Prize ceremony’s greatest power may be that it enables unrealized truth to be told in a new light. The truth at issue has surely been spoken before, from shattered neighborhoods to the heights of power. Yet this Nobel award to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons enabled such truth to be spoken to an attentive mixed audience representing the street as well as the summit: Civil society campaigners, the diplomatic corps, nuclear-armed and nuclear-free; religious leaders; Norwegian society, a royal family in the front row; a worldwide audience.

Prayer Service for Peace on the eve of ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize

Trinity Church in Oslo is a great round space of silence and light. It’s a place that invites those who enter to think about peace. Campaigners of different faiths and traditions, in the city to celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, quietly fill the pews. Then a grand organ sounds—this house of prayer welcomes guests with its own voice.

A witness for peace with ICAN Nobel Prize

First event in the Nobel Peace Prize weekend? A seminar at the Norwegian Red Cross on what a nuclear weapon could do to Oslo. The dark winter clouds hanging over the city are a backdrop for careful assessments of nuclear disasters and the inadequacy of a feasible response. But partners and supporters of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, fill the room. A sense of excitement and shared resolve is evident. The same is true among ICAN partners arriving in Oslo and the wide civil society network including churches gathering on-line around the world to celebrate the collaboration and commitment that led to the Nobel Prize.

Vatican conference and ecumenical echoes on nuclear arms and human development

A ground-breaking pontifical critique of nuclear weapons affirms the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons. By linking possession and use, Pope Francis is offering a new standard for Catholic debate over nuclear weapons. By offering it now, the pope is making a moral affirmation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted at the United Nations in July. The new treaty--which bans the possession, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons--is cited in this year’s Nobel Peace Prize award to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The World Council of Churches is a member of ICAN and shares the same moral and spiritual critique of nuclear armaments.

Solidarity with peaceful eco-resistance movements

“We are part of a struggle in defense of water, life, and mother earth,” people from the Peaceful Resistance Movement of La Puya told us. La Puya is a campsite at the entrance of the El Tambor gold mine in Guatemala, built by some local people five years ago after Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (KCA) – a U.S. based company, tried to bring in equipment to start mining.

As Reformation jubilee ends, it's time for a reformation of the economy!

Looking back on a year of Reformation commemorations, many churches ask themselves, what has changed, or what will change after this outstanding 500 years jubilee. We look back on an enormous engagement, from congregations to the worldwide level, to organize events and celebrations. The Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation pointed out clearly: “Salvation, human beings and creation are not for sale.” The three protestant churches of Austria – Lutheran, Reformed and Methodist - celebrated the 500-years Reformation Jubilee together with thousands of participants and proclaimed “Justice, Peace and Integrity of creation” as their main topics. No question: we are talking about the economy!

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.

Diwali – the festival of lights

“Religion,” the American theologian Paul Tillich once said, “is the substance of culture and culture the form of religion.” This is particularly true of Hinduism, with the result that a religious dimension can be discerned in almost all of the festivals that originate in India. Diwali, the festival of lights, the most popular and widely celebrated Hindu festival, is no exception.

Who feeds the cities?

With mega cities "mushrooming" all over the world, one must wonder how they can be supplied with enough, and healthy, food. Ideas range from an increased rural production to urban gardening and technically complex solutions like vertical indoor gardens. As Christians, we are called to side with people who live in poverty and who are marginalized. For me and my colleagues at Bread for the World, it is important to ask: What does all this mean for the rural population and for small scale farmers?

Hungry for food, hungry for justice, hungry for peace

October 16 is the World Food Day, and from October 15 to October 21, we celebrate the Churches' Week of Action on Food. So it is an appropriate time to reflect on the scandal and the shame that each night, one person in nine of all humanity goes to sleep hungry. 38 million more people than the previous year are hungry, bringing the number up to 815 million, reversing the 10-year trend of gradual reduction in hunger.

Radical love for the stranger and banning the bomb

I don’t think that the news that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the Nobel Peace Prize has fully felt like a reality for any of us who have been involved with this work over the years. Since the prize announcement on Friday, we have had the opportunity to raise our message in an unprecedented way but it is still that message at the heart of what we are doing – that nuclear weapons are immoral, unethical, dangerous and now, illegal.