WCC Pilgrimage Blog

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Thoughts for Interfaith Harmony Week

It has taken me a while to get enthusiastic about Interfaith Harmony Week each February, but I have gradually ‘warmed’ to the idea, and one thing that I like is that it falls shortly after the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (at least in the northern hemisphere). The implicit connection this draws between the need for unity and harmony between Christians, and as a starting point for harmony between religions feels a helpful link.

Interreligious dialogue as a part of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

As my year as an intern in the Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation team in the WCC draws to a close, it is time to ponder the changing face of the interfaith movement during the turbulent year of 2015. It is clear that in Europe at least the climate concerning different faiths and Islam in particular took a turn for the worse.

Those who hold seeds

Women are at the heart of agriculture, yet too often their core function is neither recognised nor supported. That message stood out to me in the annual meeting of the Food for Life strategy group that I attended last November. The issues that affect women came up in all discussions, whichever goal of the Food for Life campaign, run by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA), was on the agenda.

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.

Preaching and practice in stormy times

COP 21. Weather! We have always discussed it, several times a day. What could we expect this day, the next day? At least in my country, Norway, where the weather may change several times per day, it is always a theme for a small-talk. Until some years ago we could not imagine that we had to discuss rain storms and drought, ice and heat because we could make a difference. Or that human behaviour already had made a difference.

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.

From London to Paris walking by faith in hope

It has been ten days since the Pilgrimage2Paris set off on their mammoth journey. I remember the excitement as the pilgrims arrived last Friday at St Martins in the Field in London. I was eager to meet each pilgrim and find out who these people were who were willing to give up their time over a fortnight to walk from London to the climate talks in Paris. They have come from all walks of life and from all corners of the country, each sharing a strong commitment to put their faith into action and tackle climate change.

World Toilet Day is all about dignity and life!

The 19th of November is observed around the globe as United Nations World Toilet Day. The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day is highlighting the link between sanitation and nutrition. “Drawing the world’s attention to the importance of toilets in supporting better nutrition and improved health. Lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation, along with the absence of good hygiene practices, are among the underlying causes of poor nutrition,” the United Nations' official event site reads.

Be anxious for nothing

Worries, like weeds, seem to thrive. The more you feed them, the more they grow. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about food, drink, clothing, or even the next day. He illustrates with magnificent images. The carefree lilies blooming in the field. And then there are the birds that fly about, singing in the trees. You could be jealous, for they worry about nothing. They are carefree, even though their lives are transitory and threatened.

A year full of promise for sustainable development, water and sanitation

Year 2015 is an important milestone for all those who care for the environment, climate and water. Arguably it could be remembered along with 1992, as one of those “green years”. For networks such as the Ecumenical Water Network, who are engaged with both water concerns as well as other ecological issues such as climate change, this year has been an excellent opportunity to highlight issues of water and sustainable development.

UNICEF and “Halloween” in North America

When first I lived in Europe as a teenager during the 1960s, western culture was less homogenized than it is today. One didn’t see the same high-street boutiques in all airports everywhere. Not only that… Imagine Western Europe without a single McDonald's.

A good work begun - PAWEEN!

Recently I returned to my alma mater, Yale University Divinity School (YDS). In the taxi from the train station to the school, the driver expressed his interest in my ministry. He wanted to know if I was Presbyterian or not. When I told him I was Baptist and that I felt called to work with all Christians, he expressed his interest in giving me a gift. I was curious. I then realized that he wanted to give me some Biblical wisdom and encouragement. The gift was the following and how apropos given the new work of PAWEEN at this time!