During the night of 3-4 October 2016, Hurricane Matthew tore through the southwest region of Haiti. Powerful winds and torrential rains washed away fields, livestock, and houses. The only bridge linking the region to the rest of the country was destroyed. Suddenly farmers who had been exporting agricultural produce could no longer feed their families.
WCC Pilgrimage Blog
More than thirty local women as well as women from other Muslim-majority countries, including some from other faith communities, gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in early February. The interfaith seminar offered two public sessions, discussing the “Plight of Domestic Helpers: Interfaith Perspectives” and “Conflict and War: Direct Accounts.”
Never has humanity lived in a more connected, yet disconnected time! Connected by the endless notifications on our smartphones – alerting us to all the latest news and tidings in our social media, yet not connected deeply enough to respond substantially to people's suffering. Among the many tragedies are the human-made famines in South Sudan, Somalia, North-Eastern Nigeria and in Yemen.
“See I set before you today two ways in which you can walk, the way of life or the way of death, the way of blessing or the way of curse.” During the last few weeks I have listened to, and then re-read several times, the inaugural address given by one of the greatest world leaders in human history. I am referring of course to the Sermon on the Mount.
We live next door to each other. Have the same landlord. Shop in the same stores. Greet one another when we meet. We read the same Bible and pray to the same God, but have never shared divine service together. Not until now, that is.
World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017 is coming to an end and I wonder how many people are even aware that it exists, especially in my country, Indonesia. Indonesia presents a unique situation when it comes to interfaith relations. On the one hand, it’s been deemed an example of religious tolerance. On the other hand, it has seen many cases of extreme religious violence. Not to mention the fact that the government only recognizes six “official” religions, and every citizen is required to choose one of them – as it is noted down in our identity cards.
When you choose to join the ecumenical movement, it means you'll never stop moving. You need to always find a new perspective of life, to share your faith to all people that you'll met in your journey. It also means you'll never stop learning, from all things that you encounter, good or bad. And it means you should never stop sharing about your ecumenical movement so the people you meet can start their own ecumenical journey.
Passion for football is not unanimous in Brazil. Although the world seems to be convinced of the contrary, Brazilians have a wide range of feelings towards the sport. For some people, football is a true passion. But there are people among us who are indifferent towards football. And there are others who criticize the game severely. They are especially critical of fans' alleged refusal to acknowledge all the corruption that is involved in several institutional levels of organizations linked to this sport.
"Isn’t it kind of contradictory to fly in thousands of people to talk about CO2 emission reductions? Wouldn’t CO2 emissions substantially decrease, if the amount of people participating in these conferences would be minimized to - let’s say, just some ministers and their advisors?"
For many of us “toilet” is a taboo subject to talk about. To do so in the prayers is all the more not acceptable to many of us! We can talk of water in our prayers due to its strong spiritual significance with all religions, including Christianity. But it seems the issue of “sanitation” is rather a profane one! But it is high time we talk about it as lack of adequate sanitation affects 2.4 billion people – that is 1 in every 3 in our planet.
Flying through the labyrinthine alleys of the Medina on a motorbike as the COP22 came to a close in Marrakesh, I thought it an apt comparison to the complex and intricate UN process responding to climate change. At every twist and turn or blind alley we encountered a huge variety of people, dwellings, riads, vehicles and forms of transport – from donkey carts to bicycles, small wagons, three-wheelers, skateboards, motos and electric cars, in all directions at once, all struggling with their different capacities to get through the narrow passageways to their destinations.
All over the world polarization is on the increase. And it seems like the further distance between the standpoints, the better. To be clear about something has become a synonym of being irreconcilable. We should be concerned about this.
They stopped counting at 524, but many more showed up. The 524 were clergy, registered from over 50 different groups, but many others were along to show support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They also called for an end to the militarized governmental response to the peaceful protest.
On 31 October 2016, Lutherans and Catholics co-hosted for the first time in history a joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The events took place in Lund, Sweden, under the slogan “From Conflict to Communion”. Many Orthodox representatives attended the event. What did it mean for them? I cannot respond to this question on behalf of all the Orthodox present, but I will try to explain how I perceived it through my eyes.
In May and June, leading up to the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee meeting in Trondheim, I was on a pilgrimage from Oslo to Trondheim, promoting peace and peaceful co-existence between religious groups in my home country, Norway. On 18-20 October, I was again at a pilgrimage of justice and peace, this time together with about 50 people, representing councils of churches, specialized agencies and other ecumenical actors, who were gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for the annual meetings of the South Sudan Ecumenical Network and the Sudan Ecumenical Network.
When I was invited to attend the consultation on spirituality, worship and mission, I was asked to prepare some personal reflections on my own spiritual journey as a young person. I was asked to share what advice I had for the WCC with respect to how to engage youth in the Church as they aimed to define what they could say "about the spiritualities of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and how to manifest it in worship, spiritual formation, and mission activities of the church as well as in daily life."
In Landskron, where I am a pastor of the Lutheran Church in Austria, we have a dynamic, growing and socially engaged congregation. Our town hosts hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers from various countries. While their papers are being processed, they are not allowed to work. In our interactions with the refugees and asylum seekers, they have expressed their frustration at not being able to use their time fruitfully. Most of them miss working, and the contact with the land.
Teenagers pose lots of challenges for any parent. Emotional, rebellious, and subject to inevitable pressures, it is undoubtedly difficult to raise children who are transitioning from becoming children to adults. I am in this situation—I have three. As I reflect on their growing into individualized people, I can only hope that, once they embark on their respective paths, they live in a society that is peaceful and accepting.
We have been breathing joy, optimism and excitement to promote a new way of being a country. 26 September was a very busy day for all of us who were invited to attend the official ceremony of the signing of the Colombia peace agreement, in Cartagena. As I met other participants, a strong common feeling of hope was present in every shake of hands, every hug and every look.