The World Council of Churches (WCC) held its first Youth Virtual Conference titled “Live your Faith!” on 12 October 2013, offering young Christians from around the world an opportunity to reflect on issues of concern for their communities, including eco-justice, migration and peace.
The virtual conference was part of the preparation for the WCC 10th Assembly. The assembly will take place from 30 October to 8 November, in Busan Republic of Korea. Theme of the WCC assembly is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.
The virtual conference engaged around 500 participants between the ages of 16 and 30 years of age. The participants were provided with online spaces where they learnt skills they needed to address eco-justice, migration and peace issues in their own communities.
In the conference, young participants held conversations in an “online lounge” and networked with each other through their profile pages.
The online discussions featured speakers such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Christiana Figueres, Daniel Groody, Elias Abramides, Mathews George Chunakara, Catharina Covolo, Peter Emberson, Joy Kennedy, Marcelo Leites, Malena Montanari, Jesse Mugambi, Olav Fykse Tveit and Elsy Wakil.
“The virtual conference gave us a chance to strengthen the abilities of young people as mighty agents of God's redeeming work,” said Jec Dan Borlado, member of the WCC’s Echos - Commission on youth in the ecumenical movement. “My faith in God and the life that Jesus Christ exemplifies is what led me to serve at the virtual youth conference,” he said.
Borlando, who represents the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, added, “Our global circumstances today compel us to act in radically new and fundamentally better ways.”
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, encouraged participants to be proactive in their local contexts saying that now is the time to act! She also spoke about practical solutions individuals can take to help with the problem of global warming.
Speaking about the impact of the virtual conference, Faautu Talapusi, the WCC’s programme executive for Youth, said that the event gathered a diverse range of young participants, representing varied Christian denominations, from all global regions.
“There were youth participants from all regions represented in the WCC – from Africa, the Middle East, North America and Europe, Asia, Pacific and the Caribbean where they shared on how the challenges of peace-building are impacting their churches and communities. They also shared their rich experiences on how they are contributing to the efforts for eco-justice and addressing the phenomena of migration,” she said.
Talapusi went on to say that youth can and must be strong agents for advocacy and change in their local contexts. “Through their connections at this conference, we believe they will strengthen their ability to bring a heightened sense of social- and eco-justice to their local communities.”
* WCC virtual youth conference: http://ecumenicalyouth.org