Re-envisioning Ecumenism in a Pandemic-Stricken World

by CWM Communications Team

General Secretary of CWM, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, called the Global Christian Leaders to re-envision the ecumenism. Invited by the Global Christian Forum (GCF) for its Facilitation Group Meeting, Rev. Dr Keum gave a stimulating message challenging the members to discern ways to re-envision Ecumenism in this pandemic-stricken world.

The GCF is a global forum of Christian leaders from different traditions, regions, cultures, and nations. Proposed by the 8th General Assembly of the WCC in 1998 in Harare, GCF came into existence, after numerous consultations and a reflection process, to bring various church traditions, especially the Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Catholics, together with the member Churches of WCC. The leaders from a wide spectrum of churches and organisations meet on equal ground and mutual respect to address together the common challenges for the unity of the global churches. As part of the preparations for conceptualising the framework for the forthcoming Global Forum in 2024, they gathered in a hybrid meeting from 5-9 February 2022 at Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, Rome, Italy.

In his speech, during the opening session, Dr Keum expressed his concern on the social, political, and economic injustices unveiled by the Covid-19 global pandemic. He also highlighted the systemic greed of humans that not only is exploiting the lives of vulnerable people but also destroying the environment. He said, “The Covid-19 pandemic is neither a natural nor accidental disaster. It is a human-made ecological disaster due to the genocide of eco-diversity and human invasion of the homes of wild animals.”

In this pandemic-stricken world, with internal challenges within the ecumenical movement, he called upon the members to reimagine a transformative ecumenism by dismantling the structures that serve only the privileged, receiving the Holy Spirit, rediscovering the faith at the margins, and defeating the culture of hatred by the power of love.

He further highlighted that such transformation requires the change of the location in the Ecumenical Movement. He said, “Re-envisioning Ecumenism requires a shift of location – in hermeneutical as well as in geographical terms: from the board rooms to the streets and from dogma to life. Life and lives matter, therefore re-envisioning ecumenism is a calling towards a celebration of life in its fullness with people in the concrete contexts and communities.”

As he closed his speech, he suggested the following seven directions for future ecumenism:

  • Status confessionis on climate change and ecological justice
  • Developing economy of life instead of the worship of mammon
  • Re-imaging ecumenism as a movement from the margins beyond institutionalism
  • Nurturing a spirituality of the interconnectedness of life and solidarity of hope
  • Fostering partnerships and exploring the theologies among the vulnerable
  • Shifting the centre of ecumenism from the euro-centric to world Christianity
  • Promoting ecumenical leadership based on faith values, not ecclesial

After the presentation, the members engaged in a question-and-answer session. Rev. Dr Casley Essamuah, the General Secretary of the GCF, and other members expressed their gratitude to Dr Keum while affirming that his speech will help discern the way forward and conceptualise the framework for the global gathering in 2024.

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