Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, the new general secretary of the World Council of Churches. Here he reflects on the ecumenical movement and ‘young people’.
The ecumenical movement can never succeed in the future or present without the involvement of young people. Young people are the ones who bring new ways of thinking, new changes, new insights, a new appreciation of things, and new levels of engagement. Because young people bring this to us, we cannot neglect the young people. We cannot say, “they can wait until later.”
The WCC 11th Assembly said that young people should be involved in WCC’s governance, they should be involved in our programs, in our reference groups and our commissions, and they must be involved in the life of the WCC. I believe young people bring a greater understanding of spirituality different from what some of us have been accustomed to, yet challenging and engaging, relevant, and contextual. Young people make us think differently about many issues but help us realize the need for spirituality, the need for recreating the one human race, and dealing with environmental issues – I find young people are so geared up about environmental issues.
We need them to bring new life to our churches. We need them to speak into ecumenical organizations and into every aspect of Christian life and living. We don’t want tokenism. We want challenge. We want insightful movements. We want engagements. We also have the Bossey Ecumenical Institute that actually focuses on young people and theology. Without young people, we are in trouble!