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An ecumenical experience for young people


The 13th Conference on World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches is being held in May 2005, in Athens, Greece. A group of young people from all over the world is participating in the conference as stewards.

Since the International Missionary Council merged with the World Council of Churches in 1961, it has been a tradition to invite young people to mission conferences to serve in the background and to observe up close the deliberative work of mission, and evangelism as focused on particular themes throughout the years. W.A. Visser't Hooft, the first WCC general secretary, wanted young people to encounter ecumenism and its leaders so that they might one day become its leaders. Ecumenical formation is more than teaching ecumenical theology or ecclesiology. It is about sharing the excitement and joy of ecumenism. The CWME Conference stewards programme is only the beginning of a long process; it encourages young people to continue the journey of ecumenism.

The stewards programme is composed of three phases:
3 - 8 May: Ecumenical Training Seminar
9 - 16 May:Conference on World Mission and Evangelism
17 - 18 May:Ecumenical Training Seminar continued

"Ecumenical learning"
The theme for the ecumenical training seminar is "ecumenical learning". By the end of the seminar, each participant will have prepared a project to implement upon his/her return to their church/country.

"Work, pray and sweat"
Being a steward means first and foremost hard work. The work done is often exhausting, intense and under pressure of short deadlines.

The main task areas are: conference room work, computer work, documentation, communication & press work, worship and other tasks including general administration, mail sorting, message delivery, etc.

Apart from the work, stewards have a unique opportunity to encounter the ecumenical movement from the inside. While they do not participate as delegates in the debates and discussions, stewards are an important part of the meetings of the ecumenical movement. As a community of young people from different churches, countries, cultures and languages, each of them brings something of their background, faith and commitment to an ecumenical experience of togetherness and friendship. Being a steward is a challenge, encourages involvement and participation, and may change a person's life.

Stewards must be between 18 and 30 years old. English is the working language, but knowledge of additional languages is greatly appreciated. Due to the amount of work required, applicants need to be in good health. Working hours are irregular, and often special programmes are planned after work for the stewards.

The selection of stewards for the conference has now been completed.

May, 2004