Ecumenical officers from around the globe gather for conference

Banner Philip BrooksThe Revd Philip Brooks, Secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the United Reformed Church, reflects on the World Council of Churches (WCC) conference entitled ‘The motor engineer of the ecumenical movement’ in Geneva on 18 September.

Being the son of a motor engineer, I smiled at this title as a description for the work of ecumenical officers. More than forty of us from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America (all tasked with working on ecumenical relations) gathered for four days in September in Bossey and Geneva, Switzerland, to hear more about the work of WCC as well as learning from each other.

Aside from the more traditional ways of sharing information, a new format was trialed. WCC staff and members from partner organisations presented their work to ecumenical officers in the form of a market place and a talk show. I was one of two volunteer interviewers for this session and quizzed the WCC’s General Secretary, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, about the WCC’s pilgrimage of justice and peace with a specific question about how this relates to Israel and Palestine. His reply highlighted the injustice and suffering from 50 years of occupation.

Philip Brooks interviewing Olav TveitThis led neatly to the unveiling of a brand new exhibition, entitled the ‘12 Faces of Hope’, which had its launch later the same day in the Geneva HQ.  The exhibition features 12 people, both Palestinians and Israelis, all of whom are victims of the occupation, offering their message of hope. The WCC underline how crucial it is to reflect expressions of hope from those affected, especially in times that seem so bleak. I found the exhibition a creative, moving, and inspiring way to do just that.

Reflecting on the conference as a whole, I really valued meeting with other ecumenical officers from across the globe, sharing in the mission of the worldwide church. Having only started in my national role in July it certainly proved an extremely valuable learning experience. I look forward to meeting up with my new friends from across the world again in two years time. In the interim, we will be following each other activities with interest on Facebook. 

Photos: Albin Hillert/WCC