“Justice and peace now!” was a call made by the young participants of the recent Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Gathering (ASYG) in the Philippines.
They affirmed their role in revitalising the ecumenical movement, aspiring to be “seeds of hope, catalysts of genuine and lasting peace that is based on justice”.
The ASYG also took this occasion to compare local and regional projects and action plans for addressing such matters as poverty, migration, urban challenges, racism, human rights violations and educational opportunities.
Inspired by the theme of the World Council of Churches (WCC) upcoming assembly, 'God of life, lead us to justice and peace', around 150 young participants from across Asia and the Pacific gathered for the ASYG. The event was held from 30 August to 5 September 2013 in Bukal ng Tipan, Philippines.
The WCC assembly will take place in Busan, Republic of Korea, 30 October to 8 November 2013.
At the ASYG, Asian youth expressed their hopes and expectations of the WCC assembly, as well as encouraging the work of Asian churches related to issues of justice and peace."
A statement issued at the event read, in part: “Guided by our Christian calling to work for justice and peace, we prayed and worshipped together, shared the stories of our peoples’ struggles, and shared our unique, diverse contexts and cultures that make up the richness of the Asia-Pacific.
“The time that we spent together enabled us to understand the different realities that beset the Asian context and discern our Christian calling to stand in solidarity with those who are struggling for life and dignity,” asserted the ASYG participants in the statement.
Carla Khijoyan, a WCC staff member who attended the event, said, “ASYG 2013 was an invitation to recall the Lord’s Prayer ‘your kingdom come’ which is a way to express our human demand and desires for justice and peace.” Given the present geopolitical scenario of Asia and the Pacific, she added, it is important that the voice of youth is heard more perceptively at the assembly.
Khijoyan added that “ASYG is a meaningful attempt to bring together the youth of Asia to deliberate on the assembly theme.” A youth perspective on issues that affect the life of people is crucial, not only for the assembly but also for the local churches, she said.
The ASYG encompasses ecumenical youth networks in Asia, including the Ecumenical Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Network (EASY Net), and its seven member-organisations: Christian Conference of Asia, Asia Pacific Alliance of the YMCA, International Young Christian Workers, International Movement of Catholic Students, World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific, Young Women Christian Association, International Young Catholic Students; joined with the Hong Kong Christian Council, Hong Kong Christian Institute and Communion of Churches in Indonesia.
* ASYG conference statement: Justice and Peace Now! (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/copy_of_StatementASYG2013.pdf