Annika Mathews (Church of England)
It is difficult to sum up the Ecumenical Youth Gathering (EYG) and World Council of Churches 11th Assembly in words. Quite simply, it was a truly wonderful experience. I learnt lots of things about situations across the world I barely knew about, for example, the situations in Western Papua and Armenia as well as the struggles indigenous people face in relation to climate crisis, land rights and the use of green technology.
We also discussed issues and concerns already close to my heart – the EYG themes were spot on as they focused on celebrating gifts, healing wounds, transforming injustices and sharing God’s peace. The main assembly theme was ‘Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.’ I had the privilege of preaching at our youth gathering, co-facilitating a small group, speaking on a plenary panel + contributing on the Assembly floor.
It was amazing meeting people from many different countries and gathering together to worship, pray and discuss. The vibrant diversity of God’s people was clear to see and it was great to be able to sing in several different languages during worship alongside celebrating all our gifts and diversity, including those of people from usually marginalised groups in church and society. I was immensely blessed by fellowship with those I met and enjoyed exchanging personal stories and our journeys in ecumenism. In particular, coming together with other young ecumenists was such an encouragement. A memorable moment is our coordinated statement and intervention on the Assembly floor to ensure that our voices were heard by those present and will hopefully be acted upon not only by WCC, but also by member churches. It was personally healing and affirming attending the Assembly and I go away fired up even more for God and about social justice issues I’m passionate about.
Rev Philip Cooper (Moravian Church)
Attending the World Council of Churches Assembly was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed meeting members of my own Moravian Church from around the world, and, also, delegates and participants from other churches from all over the globe.
The business plenaries were extremely interesting. The new Presidents and Central Committee were elected. Reports and statements were received and discussions took place on such matters as the war in Ukraine, and relations between Israel and the Palestinian people, particularly in the occupied territories.
The times of prayer at the beginning and close of the assembly, and in the mornings, midday and evenings, were enriching and uplifting. They included a rich variety of prayers and hymns from around the world, and many church traditions.
The thematic plenaries, on a variety of issues and subjects, were informative, and often inspiring and moving. My Ecumenical Conversation discussed mission and discipleship, in the context of colonialism and empire. The conversation was extremely thought-provoking. The Home Groups were a further opportunity to reflect and pray with a wide variety of people from many parts of the world and different churches.
My experience at the assembly was very special and one that I will not forget.