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  1. ECEN Assembly 2018

    Maria Atanasoaei is WSCF-Europe Communications Officer, and former Social Responsibility Coordinator of the InnBetween, WSCF-Europe-affiliated SCM in the Netherlands.

    “COP24 will be a milestone in international climate policy”, I heard Jochen Flashbart, German State Secretary for Environment, say a few days ago, and my mind went back to the ECEN Assembly that I attended in October this year. The European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) is an alliance of churches and religious organisations, representing a range of Christian denominations, which come together to discuss and take action against environmental degradation and climate change. At the core of ECEN lies the belief that religious organisations have a huge role to play in actively defending the environment and promoting sustainable livelihoods, particularly through community engagement and activism. WSCF-Europe is proud to be part of this network and support these efforts. The ECEN Assembly that took place in October explored the intersection between economic and ecological justice and was the 12th gathering of this kind in the history of the network. The location where the Assembly met this year has a special relation to the topic of environmental protection – Katowice, Poland, is the city which, between 3rd-14th December, will be hosting COP24, the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The event will bring together leaders and high-level representatives of countries across the world in a series of mandated events, action events and roundtables, focused on a range of topics related to environmental protection and climate change.

    The ECEN Assembly was not a gathering on the same scale as the COP24, but it nevertheless brought together representatives of churches and religious organisations from 22 countries, mostly from Europe, but also from outside Europe. The Assembly kicked off on Saturday, 6th October, with a welcome reception and a brief introduction to the history of ECEN, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. In the introduction, the notion of property was discussed in relation to nature as Creation. ECEN’s achievements were highlighted, with the emphasis being on the way in which ECEN managed to create a bridge between faith communities and environmental activism over the years.

    Prof. Mikael Fortelius (University of Helsinki) talking about the urgent need for climate change action.

    The second day started with a beautiful worship service, which we attended at the invitation of the Polish Council of Churches and which was delivered partly in English, and partly in Polish. The day continued with a visit around Katowice, helping us explore a history which was deeply marked by the coal exploitation industry. This Silesian region relied almost entirely on coal extraction for over 40 years, a period in which severe environment damage occurred. A series of reforms in recent years have facilitated the transition of Katowice’s economy from a focus on heavy industry to a concentration of small and large businesses. In the second half of the day, Bishop Nicholas Holtam (Church of England) and Prof. Mikael Fortelius (University of Helsinki) helped us explore questions surrounding ethics and climate change. One key idea discussed was whether or not the seriousness of the climate change issue should be approached with a sense of urgency or embraced and tackled with optimism and joy, bearing in mind that no matter what attitude is embraced, the aim should be that of closing the gap between acceptance/belief and activism/action. Following this discussion, we had the chance to see some examples of activities that have closed this gap. These came from Germany, where churches significantly contributed to the discussion on the closing of coal mines, and from Hungary, where certain church schools teach environmental education, treating it as a subject of equal importance to all the other subjects of the curriculum. The second day closed with an evening open forum on care of creation in European churches.

    Dr. Eszter Kodacsy-Simon talking about environmental education in Hungary.

    The third and fourth days of the Assembly continued these conversations. Professors from the University of Poznan and University of Katowice talked to us about the concept of climate justice and its intersection with economic justice. We also had the chance to hear from Jukka Uosukainen, Director of the UN Environment Climate Technology Centre and Network, about the preparations and hopes for COP24. Our own reflections were shared in small groups focused on a range of topics. I was part of the environmental education thematic group, in which we discussed barriers to changing behaviours that damage the environment, as well as ways of overcoming these barriers and what position can educators take in facilitating community engagement in environmental protection.

    The Assembly concluded with a festive evening and a message of approaching the future with hope, yet caution. The conclusion was that dealing with climate change should be treated as an urgent issue and acted-upon immediately, but with the hope that past experiences of transition from environmental-damaging practices to environmental-friendly ones provide a learning ground which shows that action can lead to positive change. I found the Assembly to be a great learning experience and an important reminder that belief without action cannot lead to real change.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on November 24th, 2018 3:04 pm / Continue Reading »

  2. My experience in WSCF-Europe

    Francesca Vincenzi was an intern for WSCF-Europe for a couple of months in 2017/18, working on communications and office administration. Francesca is from Italy and studies linguistic intermediation for tourism and business at the university in Trento.

    My name is Francesca, I’m actually studying in Trento and today I  want to share with you my experience within WSCF-Europe. This  started at the beginning of my third year of university, in particular when  I had  to think about the possibility to have an internship with an organisation and, through a friend of mine, I heard about WSCF-Europe.

    I remember that I felt a little bit anxious when starting, because it was my first working experience  and I was afraid of doing something wrong. But as soon as I started to work there, my fears disappeared. Even if  the team of the organisation is basically worldwide and the communication through video-conferences is sometimes hard, all the members made me feel comfortable.

    The tasks that I had to do during this internship were varied and included also activities that I have never done before,  but the staff always explained me the procedures and supported me – I looked after the communication work with the participants and other members of the team, I focused on accounting activities and updated social media contents: actually the most satisfying aspect of these activities was the immediate feedback that I received after my work.

    I would recommend this experience for all those who want to approach the labour market, because working with WSCF-Europe taught me to discover and use some new modern and technological devices, to pay attention to details and to cooperate; nowadays all these aspects  just  mentioned  represent  indispensable requirements among many companies.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on October 25th, 2018 1:59 am / Continue Reading »

  3. The Modern Prophets Speak Out!

    Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member in the Center for Palestine Studies – SOAS University of London, UK. He is currently a Master student at the Evangelical Theological Faculty – Leuven and has been working with various professional and faith-based organisations, including Christian Peacemaker Team, Caritas Brussels, Peace Builders Community Philippines, and the Foundation University – Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

     

    “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”

    Hebrew 1: 1-2, New American Standard Bible

    “When we speak we are afraid our worlds will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

    Audre Lorde, 27 January 2014

    Preaching against warmonger and populist global leaders appears to be imperative in every nation today. This has, of course, been prompted both by rising tide of populism and white world-supremacy. The US president Donald Trump, for instance, declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that could jeopardize the long-overdue peace process between Israel and Palestine. For some critics, however, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not new because the previous US presidents have done the same thing. Take for example, Bill Clinton (1992), George Bush (2000), and Barack Obama (2008) during their presidential terms. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Trump’s declaration is menacing the basic international norms. Outraged, three global religious leaders, Pope Francis, Archbishop Justine Welby, and Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit entered a formal concern against this radical curtailment of peace process. Pope Francis publicly expresses, “I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days. And at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respect the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.” Likewise, Archbishop Welby resonates Pope Francis’ call for the “Status Quo” agreement (shared religious sites among Jews, Christians, and Muslims) over religious sites in Jerusalem to be protected. As well, Rev. Dr. Tveit, a general secretary of the World Council of Churches, expressed grave concern over president Trump’s destructive announcement. Rev. Tveit argues, “Such a step breaks with the longstanding international consensus, and almost seven decades of established American policy, that the status of Jerusalem remains to be settled. It also pre-empts a negotiated resolution of this most difficult issue in any final peace agreement, which must be achieved between Israel and Palestinians themselves.”

    Bob Englehart / Cagle Cartoons – ‘Donald Trump and Jerusalem

    If some Christians have often been puzzled by and sometimes hostiles towards Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, and Rev. Dr. Tveit moral stands over Trump’s declaration, I overwhelming agree with the contention advanced by these three distinguished religious leaders that set an exemplary of nonconformity in the age of new global populism. For them, to speak the inconvenient truth and not be intimidated of backlash, to make unpopular moral stand before public opinion, to pursue the right course of action despite overwhelming odds, and to remain firm and valiant—these are the true characteristics of a modern prophet of God.

    How important these modern prophets are? Like Desmond Tutu, a living African religious icon, Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, and Rev. Dr. Tveit, draws a striking parallel between the ancient Hebrew prophets and living celebrity prophets. Celebrity prophet, as Walter Brueggemann describes, in his provocative book entitled, Disruptive Grace (2011), “Celebrity prophecy is important among us. Celebrity prophets continue to push the edges of thought and imagination to create space for the rest of us in which to maneuver. Celebrity prophets among us say things that sound to some folk to be utterly outrageous, but then the rest of us sound less outrageous.” Brueggemann added, “You can name celebrity prophets and give thanks to them—Desmond Tutu, William Stringfellow, Michael Sloane Coffin, Jim Wallace, Barbara Brown Taylor, Tony Campolo, Michael Lerner, Brian McLaren, and sometimes me…But after all of them, there is still the day-to-day parish task of the prophetic, not so daring, not so space-creating, not so crazy-sounding (129).” For celebrity prophets, it is necessary to counter acting and reacting to conventional thoughts and wisdom to engage society in a discourse. Over time, these celebrity prophets, Brueggemann points out, are the social conscience that counterweight the selfish, inhumane, and oppressive global system.

    One of the tasks of the celebrity prophet is to change our view of the nature of events, to take a look and to see a different level of reality. Take for example, one of the most challenging issues faced by contemporary celebrity prophets, is to re-introduce the liberative meaning of Christmas story. In the US, the Pew Research Survey 2017 shows, the religious aspects of Christmas became less prominent in the public sphere.” They added, Christmas appear to be moving in a more secular direction. Christopher Deacy, a scholar of religion and ‘popular culture’, offers a critical examination of the Christmas holiday. In his book, Christmas as Religion: Rethinking Santa, the Secular, and the Sacred (2016), he observes that consumerism and capitalism distorts the true meaning of Christmas story. Deacy concludes, distorted Christmas holiday become the religion of capitalism. In his powerful Christmas message, “Urbi Et Orbi,” however, Pope Francis unwrapped the true meaning of Christmas story. He argues, “Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, “there is no place in the inn” (Lk 2:7).” He contends, celebrating Christmas should constantly remind us to maintain a credible Christian witness in the public arena. To recognize Christ in the faces of the most vulnerable people around the world. Pope Francis further argues, “We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians…We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country…We see Jesus in the children of Africa, especially those who are suffering in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria…We see Jesus in the children of unemployed parents who struggle to offer their children a secure and peaceful future…We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers.” Hence, Pope Francis, being an exemplary of celebrity prophet, contends that we should demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas by choosing to be in solidarity with the poor on the periphery, particularly the most vulnerable children in conflict-affected areas. In Christmas holiday, he argues, we should stop thinking about our self and start thinking about others in need.

    In conclusion, the Word of God reminds us, “The righteous will inherit the land. And dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speak justice.” Psalm 37: 29-30 (NASB)

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on December 28th, 2017 3:21 pm / Continue Reading »

  4. GETI’17: Making the Good News Relevant in the Public Space

    Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member in the Center for Palestine Studies – SOAS University of London, UK. He is currently a Master student at the Evangelical Theological Faculty – Leuven and has been working with various professional and faith-based organisations, including Christian Peacemaker Team, Caritas Brussels, Peace Builders Community Philippines, and the Foundation University – Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

     

    Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Loving-kindness and truth go before You.

    Psalm 89:14

    The Conference of European Churches (CEC) hosted the Global Ecumenical Institute (GETI’17) in Berlin from May 19th to June 1st, 2017 in co-operation with various theological faculties in Europe. Through unique and innovative program, GETI’17 hoped to create a unique global platform for theological students and young theologians from all over the world. To celebrate the 500 years of the Reformation, GETI’17 takes ecumenical-theological response to three urgent challenges for Europe at the moment: Reforming Theology, Migrating Church, and Transforming Society. GETI’17 recognizes these theological challenges are certainly vital. The GETI program allows me to have a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, knowledge, practices, and experiences. On top of that, GETI program is not simply a process of transferring knowledge, but a process of critical theological reflection and transformative, to make the good news relevant today. On a personal level, my experience with the GETI’17 program echoes my experience working as a part-time volunteer in the Christian Peacemaker Team Greece and Caritas Brussels, where I have specifically asked the question, what is the role of “Christian churches” in the global refugee crisis?

    My question brings me back into the commemoration of the 500 years of Reformation. I realized that the GETI 2017 turned out to be a test of commitment to the popularized slogan of the Reformation tradition, “reformanda semper reformata.” Although the exact meaning is unclear, this slogan simply means that the reformed church should always be reformed. For GETI’17, as the world is changing, our Christian faith always be in a proper response in a new context and new challenges that have something to do with real life.

    In view of the above, GETI’17 refused to be silent in the public square. At the same time, it defies the dominant view of privatization of religion. GETI refutes the false division between “public” and “private” spheres in Christian life. GETI suggests that European Christian communities should influence the formation of public morality and public order in different social strata. For instance, the role of Christian churches on public policy making process, particularly in immigrant or refugee integration. It is part of our biblical mandate. Doris Peschke, a general secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) argues that “The Christian mandate is based on the Bible, from which through a meticulous process of theological interpretation Christian elaborate their code of conduct.” She further argues, “A careful hermeneutical analysis of biblical references related to migrants can offer valuable ethical insights and directives which Churches and Christians should respect when dealing with migrant populations.”

    In the last G20 Hamburg Summit, several interreligious groups/institutions, such World Faith Development Dialogue, Jacob Soetendrop Institute for Human Values, Islamic Relief Worldwide, International Catholic Migration Commission, UNFPRA, and PaRD with inputs from Berkley Center, World Council of Churches, and CRRP-University of Winchester, appeals to G20 policy makers to support wider religious roles in refugee resettlement. The often misunderstood, and commonly underappreciated religious dimension of forced migration, these religious groups argue, “Religious roles in humanitarian agendas have received considerable recent attention, including action proposals featured during the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.” They further argue, “However, more systematic engagement with religious actors and cooperation with religious organizations and actors (including the large body of faith-inspired organizations), which are doing important work on the ground, is needed. The G20 can play a crucial role by devoting explicit attention to the topic.” The policy suggestion paper implies that there is a strong recognition and impact of religious roles in the global refugee crisis. It is about time, for global policy makers, to recognize the valuable contributions of religious sectors in nation building. If religion has often been seen as part of the global problem, therefore, we also have to consider that religion as part of the global solution. Rabbi David Rosen argues, “If you don’t want religion to be part of the problem, then you have to make it part of the solution.”

    In this regard, GETI’17 program/course takes such timely opportunities to develop future public theologians. Only by creating an intensive short-term ecumenical training where future public theologians can respond properly that many of the global issues will not go unaddressed. As highlighted in the program, theological education plays a vital role in preparing the current and future generation of theologians, Christian activists, and churches, with theological skills needed to respond to the rising religious intolerance, extremism, and the resurgence of racism. True enough, I personally felt empowered and inspired by GETI’17 program, to continue my passion in working with refugees. This ecumenical program taught me to be more critical than ever to churches, social issues, and social order. In short, GETI’17 program making the Good News relevant in the contemporary public space.

     

    References

    Doris Peschke, The Role of Religion for the Integration of Migrants in Europe, Reforming Theology, Migrating Church, Transforming Society: A Compendium for Ecumenical Education, eds. Uta Andrée, Benjamin Simon, & Lars Röser-Israel, (Hamburg, Missionshilfe, 2017), 198-216.

    “Religion, Identity, and Violence”, The World Religions: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Arvind Sharma, (USA: Fortress Press, 2011), 17.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on August 11th, 2017 6:50 pm / Continue Reading »

  5. Belarussian Christians Abroad deciding to create the Network of Solidarity

    Marharyta Taraikevich is a member of Centre Ecumena, Belarus. She is Orthodox Christian, an amateur artist and has a Master in Socio-Pedagocial Sciences.  She is the author of the blog on the site ‘Belarussian Partisan’, writing on social issues, being particularly interested in problems of civil liberties and social solidarity, inclusion and freedom of movement.  

    The First Working Meeting of Belarussian Theologists Abroad took place between 2-3 June in Tübingen, Germany. It was an event during which Belarussian Christians, who live in different countries (Germany, Belgium, Poland, France, United States), most of whom have academic degrees in Theology, had good time in discussions on actual problems of the Church and Christian life.

    Enjoying sunny weather, good coffee and beer, walking up and down the streets of the tranquil campus town, we were sharing with each other our ideas, discoveries and fruits of our reflection. We have heard something new from each other, for example, about the evolution of the Church’s attitude to the world around; about the problems of understanding sex in its tradition; about the religiosity of teenagers in Belarus and Germany; about the communities of Christian youth; about the controversy of St. Athanasius and the Arians, as well as about the problem of definition of the term ‘Arians’ itself; about the issues of canon law; about the theology of Nikolai Afanasiev; about the development of Christian community life; about the problems of the divorce and its connectivity to the problems of understanding of marriage; about the authoritarian and humanist tendencies in the Russian Orthodox Church; about the participant’s experience of communication with theologists of other religions…

    The most joyful and inspiring for me is the braveness with which I see the participants facing difficult and challenging questions. Nobody was afraid to sound unconventional; it was evident that we all respect the others’ and our own right of error, expecting that God shall cover our human errors with His love.

    The important part of the meeting was the discussion on the possibilities to help our compatriots in Belarus and abroad. Particularly we would like to share with the Belarussian students, who are interested in scientific research, information on the ways to collaborate with European institutions. This is important as Belarus is a country in which the huge part of population has university education, and there are many students and young scientists who can share their work and ideas abroad, but many of them don’t have necessary contact information.

    The meeting was preceded with participation in the events connected with the arrival in Germany of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, and followed by the Saint Lithurgie, that was served partly in Belarussian language. Also during the meeting, the books by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), translated into Belarussian language, were sold in order to collect money for the new special wheelchair for the famous Belarussian journalist and writer Daria Lis.

    I hope that such meetings will be taking place regularly, as it is a really good way to change the ideas and to support each other.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on July 8th, 2017 3:00 pm / Continue Reading »

  6. First days in WSCF-E

    Hi, everyone!!

    I am Maria and I have just started working as a Communications Officer in WSCF-E. I am so happy to be part of this and I will do my best not to disappoint. :)

    The past weekend I have attended a meeting of our Preparatory Committee for one of our conferences, in Dublin, Ireland, and have had the chance to meet WSCF-E’s amazing people (or at least some of them). At the beginning, I was rather nervous about the handover and the meeting and being all new to this, but oh, how useless those worries were! I have never felt more welcome in an organisation and have never made friends with my colleagues faster than I did this weekend! So, I am super, super excited to be part of the WSCF family!

    As a passionate blogger, I was really happy to see that I will also be able to post on WSCF-E’s blog. So, just so you know it, I get really excited about cats and trips in the mountains and I love to see people caring about each other. I also love books and could write overwhelmingly long blog posts about books of Russian authors that I am in love with (challenge me on this, and I will show you my 2500 words post about on Dostoievski’s ‘Brothers Karamazov’).

    I own a diary of ‘kindness acts’, in which I write every 2-3 days, or whenever I encounter random, small or large, nice gestures that people do for each other. Since I am starting to use this blog today, I was thinking it would be nice if I moved that diary online, so that I can share with you those little acts that always lighten up my day. So keep an eye on it! :)

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on June 20th, 2017 3:00 pm / Continue Reading »

  7. Happy Birthday SKY!

    Our Finnish SCM, SKY-FKS, has celebrated its 120th anniversary on April 22, 2017. The General Secretary of SKY, Katri Jussila, fills us in on what SKY is all about.

    What does 120th anniversary mean to SKY?

    SKY has been involved in Church and Society for 120 years. Long history means a lot, we have been involved in many and made many new openings in the history. People’s equality, environmental issues, interfaith dialogue, and international solidarity have been sky´s themes since the 1980’s and still are. Many of the activities currently used by the Church have been spring up from SKY’s activists, including campus ministries, Finnish confirmation schools, and the first Easter walks Via crucis 1987 spring up from sky’s activists. Sky has been involved in many, and often speak out with the first ones about social justice and the related themes. It’s amazing that we are an active organization for active students to speak out about the society themes what are current of their time. Due to the long history, we are a well-known actor in the ecclesiastical field.

    How being a member of a global federation has shaped SKY as a student christian movement?

    On the global level, we have often received influences and themes what are been unknown in Finland. International influences also bring refreshing value in our activity. The global federation is a strong support that gives more power to speak out injustice and to protect the discriminated. The ecumenism of the global movement is a great spiritual asset that adds to the spirituality of the movement a valuable addition. International and ecumenical learning is also an important issue that will also be retained in the future. Providing these learning opportunities for new activists is valuable.

    Katri Jussila, Interim General Secretary

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on April 24th, 2017 12:23 am / Continue Reading »

  8. “The signs of the times” – report from School of Ecumenical Leadership Formation in Cambodia

    Krista Autio a Finnish Theology MA student at the University of Helsinki. Krista have been the Global Networking Coordinator for WSCF-Europe since October 2015.

    WSCF-Asia & Pacific Region organized a School of Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF) for young ecumenical students in Siem Reap, Cambodia October-November 2016. The theme of the training was identity and diversity, focusing particularly on sexual diversity. This training also included sessions on feminist theology, eco-theology, human rights and human trafficking; exposures to the local context; and worship together. The speakers of the sessions are friends of WSCF-AP and are highly regarded in the ecumenical field. These included professors, pastors, human rights professionals, bishops, employees of the Christian Conference of Asia, and previous employees of WCC. I consider myself extremely lucky for being able to learn from them.

    One important goal of ecumenism in general is to raise peacemakers. Having the training in Cambodia was a touching experience regarding peace work. The signs of the wars from the 1970s drew a grave picture of the horrors of warfare and its nature with no glory and greatness. The war was still visible in the demographic development of the population of Cambodia, since the majority of the population were young people. The war was visible as a human tragedy: six million mines caused displacement and physical suffering to the people of Cambodia. All around in nature, the pits in the ground were a stark reminder: the USA dropped more bombs in Cambodia in few months than what was dropped in Germany during the whole of WWII. At our venue, Metta Karuna Reflection centre in Siem Reap, the crucifix commemorated those disabled by the war: Jesus on the Cross with only one leg reminded people that Christ is with those who suffer, and also reminds us of the long lasting consequences of cluster bombs and land mines.

    But Cambodia has also got beyond the wars and Vietnamese occupation. From the 1990s the country has been rising from the ashes. The international presence has been vast: through institutes and NGOs working with (for example) the archaeological site of Angkor Wat temple, the infrastructure, and local people. During our two day long exposure we visited a few of these NGOs, who work with different social questions in both urban and rural areas. This gave us a better understanding of the context which different groups of people were facing in Cambodia.

    Photo by Natalie Nathanielsz Gomes

    I was at SELF representing WSCF-Europe. Many of the topics discussed at SELF were familiar to me due to my BA and MA studies in Theology, but one particular session had a huge impact in me. We were talking about contextual theology and what the Bible guides Christians to do in a contemporary world. The name of the session was “The signs of our times”. Our speaker, Professor George Zachariah from India, used the story of the birth of Christ as an example in a new and fresh way. As the Wise Men in the story got signs from God, so we as followers of Christ can too. In the story the sign was the star of Bethlehem. The story told how the Wise Men decided to follow the star to find a new king announced by an angel. First they went to the source of earthly power and authority, and went to see King Herod in vain. After this setback the Wise Men chose to follow the star instead of earthly powers and they saw the King of Heaven. The lesson of the story was not to simply follow what is expected in our societies, but to follow God, who shows us the right way if we choose to see it. The visit the Wise Men made to King Herod’s palace also caused a tragedy, since according to the story, it led to killings of innocent young children in the region. The story was applied to our time: we are also getting called by God and God sends us signs to follow. These signs may occur in unexpected ways, but the story encourages us to follow with courage. God invites us to make a difference, eradicate injustice and be with the oppressed, poor or needy in the contemporary world.

    Photo by Natalie Nathanielsz Gomes

    This lesson of the story is also the ultimate goal for WSCF in its life, work, and witness. In Asia & Pacific Region this is spoken and sang out loud. The SCM Solidarity Song starts with the words: “The song we sing not for ourselves, for those who are oppressed and chained: build up a new society, let’s share and feel with them.” The chorus continues: “Come SCMs: unite, be one; pull out injustice from this World; live with people; build together. One day we will reach a new just world”. I found this song extremely moving. These are the songs young Christians should sing across the world. Where is the spirit of making a difference? Where is the sense of creating the change? This Spirit is what inspires young Christians, gives them hope and the tools to achieve change. All WSCF Regions have their own context and reality where they live and work. That is why it is so important for SCMers to travel and visit other Regions, to get a grip of the wholeness of WSCF and how the Holy Spirit works in our time.

    Photo by Natalie Nathanielsz Gomes

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on January 26th, 2017 3:01 pm / Continue Reading »

  9. Joint Consultation: Being Church in Europe Today, Ecclesiology & Migration

    Pavlina Manavska, 26, living and working in Cologne Germany, WSCF Europe campaign/event coordinator.  Methodist. Macedonian

    From 8-10 of December, WSCF-Europe was invited to take part at the consultation of CCME The Churches Commision for Migrants in Europe and CEC, Conference of european Churches discussing upon the topic Being Church in Europe today, focusing on the migration and ecclesiology.

    It was a privillege to be part of this consultation, to experience how different churces from different areas with their passionate leaders who have dedicated themselfs towards a common goal,  to not hold on to what divides us, but to go forward together with what unites us as One in Christ. There were around 30 church leaders and representatives from different churches and different countries in Europe and once again all of us were remainded that Jesus Christ is our chief cornerstone and as Christ-like churches we ought to be more open for collaboration, caring for one another as we walk this journey together.

    We had productive meeting with few presentations, we got an introduction upon the document published by WCC, “The Church- towards a Common Vision” and working groups where we got to discuss and brainstorm about certain issues that different churches are facing. For WSCF-Europe as ecumenical organisation it is of essential importance to communicate with the churches in Europe, to get closer contacts and get to know the needs in order to support and join in different campaigns.

     

    Participants of the consultation on migration and churches in Europe, Copenhagen, 8-10 December 2016. ©CEC

    Read joint press release from the Conference of European Churches, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, and the World Council of Churches here.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on December 20th, 2016 9:02 am / Continue Reading »

  10. Migration at the Intersection with Racial Justice & Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

    Clare Wilkins is an Anglican Physics graduate from the UK who works in HR. She enjoys reading and playing board games, as well as playing a variety of musical instruments.

    I recently had the great opportunity of attending the 2016 WSCF Inter-Regional Leadership Advocacy Training Programme (IRLTP) as the representative for the European region. This year’s programme was focused on Migration at the Intersection with Racial Justice and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, and many of our sessions looked at the local context in Asia and particularly within Bangladesh.

    The programme began with a beautiful worship session led by our hosts at SCM Bangladesh and then we launched formally into the training. Rev Malcolm Damon from the Economic Justice Network challenged us to consider how the current world context might affect our need to support others through advocacy. He also introduced us to various platforms through which advocacy can be done.

    In the evening we attended the tenth anniversary celebration of the SCM Bangladesh Senior Friends organisation and were welcomed as guests of honour, presented with beautiful marigold garlands and entertained wonderfully.

    irltp-2016_1

     

    On our second day we started with a biblico-theological reflection on migration from Rev Dr Aruna Gnanadason, which focused our attention on the enduring nature of migration. This enabled us to better see the context when we were then hearing about the current issues WSCF is working on from Luciano Kovacs, regional secretary for North America and Advocacy and Solidarity programme lead. In the afternoon we looked further at specific migration-related issues being faced by individuals around the world, with sessions facilitated by Mervin Toquero of Churches Witnessing with Migrants. These sessions gave us as participants the tools to begin our own action planning and work out what we can do to support advocacy in our own contexts. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you once they have been developed more fully: look out in the WSCF-E newsletter for more soon.

    We also had other incredible opportunities such as meeting migrants who had been tricked by ‘brokers’ into dangerous and frightening situations; spending time talking about the Bangladesh context with people from local churches; and talking to each other about our own contexts.

    irltp-2016_2

    For me, the whole experience was a timely reminder of how as a global WSCF family we are able to come together to help make a difference to people’s lives all around the world. I will really treasure the time I had at the IRLTP and I’m sure the people I met there will be lifetime friends.

     

     

    Note from the editor: IRLTP 2016 took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 1-6. To download the concept paper of this meeting, click here.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on December 16th, 2016 2:54 pm / Continue Reading »

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