During the closing celebration of the Ecumenical Youth Gathering, more than 200 young participants prayed and reflected at St Stephen Church in Karlsruhe.
Participants are looking forward with enthusiasm to joining the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly starting on 31 August. During their pre-assembly, they also attended a plenary session to celebrate International Youth Day and contemplate the plenary theme: “Restoring Wholeness in Creation: Land Rights Activism in Context of Indigenous Youth."
Panel speakers representing various Indigenous communities around the world shared how their experiences are embedded in ancestral knowledge and traditions that inform daily actions in a globalized world.
“We or those in the ecumenical platform must make sense of the Indigenous peoples outside our platform. Furthermore, in a country where the government may be dedicated towards certain groups, so called majority, we need to seek for global political advocacy,” said Kerio Wetsah, Student Union Biblical Seminary from Nagaland, India.
He further added that by extending solidarity, we are strengthening ourselves. “There is a need to retrospect and revisit the traditional ethos and values on land. Not only for the sake of the Indigenous peoples but more importantly for the non-Indigenous peoples to learn from us,” said Wetsah.
The panelists also presented contextual views of land rights issues affecting their communities and provided some insights to develop best practices in society.
The plenary ended with participants gathering and working on the message to be presented during the assembly.
Youth participants said the Ecumenical Youth Gathering was very international.
“It is so inspiring to see people from all over the world, see their cultures, and how they practice Christianity in different ways in their culture. So for me, the cultural night was the highlight,” said Anne Nielsen, Brunstad Christian Church, Norway.
During the Ecumenical Youth Gathering, a message group was formed to draft a message to present at the assembly.
“As a youth, we have been part of some intense discussions on some matters that are affecting not only our regions but various regions around the world. We have been working hard preparing this message for the assembly. We do hope that this message not only impacts the general conversations in the assembly but also calls our representatives to take action as we seek change and justice for our world,” said Tia Phillip, Moravian Church, Eastern West Indies Province.
Commenting on the role of young voices, Nielsen said that not having a consensus is a big obstacle. According to her, having a pre-assembly for young people is a strong signal that youth voices are important and should be heard.
“I think it is important for the pre-assembly that it is not only the loudest voices that are heard but the strongest voices, and that means it is the things that we all agree on. So it is not just about getting my voice heard but it is about listening, respecting, and understanding the actual job we have to do as a church through ecumenical work,” said Nielsen.
Originally from Webpage: "oikoumene.org"
CCD reprinted with permission.