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STATEMENT 7

ON YOUNGER GENERATION LEADERS

The Younger Generation Leaders meeting at the 17th World Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC), June 7th, 2005 at the 21st Century Glory Youth Training Center, Heongseong, Korea, noted the importance of addressing the need of challenging today's younger generation leaders to think and act biblically, and hereby submit this statement.

WHEREAS it is largely recognized that the key to the continuity of a religious movement lies in the younger generation leaders;

WHEREAS the ecumenical movement started in the last century with young people taking leadership in the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA);

WHEREAS younger generation leaders in the World Council of Churches are now calling for a concerted plan of action, as evidenced in the following Statement by one group who met from 14-16 November 2004 at Antellias as guests of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Cilicia) and at the invitation of the WCC; the declared thus their "Vision of the Ecumenical Movement":

We … affirm the need to revisit the vision and direction of the ecumenical movement, and to look beyond the current structures and organisational formulas. The very word "movement" implies dynamism, constant self-evaluation, and change.

Despite the declining presence and activity of young people in churches in most parts of the world, many young Christians remain passionately committed to the ecumenical movement. This gives us hope and encouragement. However, we witness that their desire to solve the current problems of the "oikoumene" is finding more and more expression outside the churches and ecumenical organisations. This questions the relevance of the ecumenical movement….

We envision a new ecumenical movement characterised by a renewed commitment of churches and ecumenical organisations. Being ecumenical belongs to the very essence of being Church, and is not just an issue of external relations. New understanding of the role of the ecumenical movement will emanate from a "new" understanding of the mission of the Church as an inclusive community caring for life, not only for Christians, but for all people of God, for creation, for the whole "oikoumene". The 21st century will see churches sharing in the eucharistic fellowship, praying and acting together for a reconciled and healed "oikoumene" in visible unity. The ecumenical movement of the 21st century must provide a safe space for honest and respectful dialogue that is devoid of "cosy ecumenism" but fosters a loving relationship among partners with trust, mutual accountability and lasting commitment as key values.

We dream of an ecumenical movement where young people, with all their talents and skills, take an active part and leadership in all its dimensions. The ecumenical movement bears witness to the inclusive nature of the Church as the body of Christ. In its diversity lies its full strength and richness. The ecumenical movement of the 21st century needs to be owned by all churches and ecumenical organisations. Embracing diversity is essential for the sustainability of the ecumenical movement as a movement of the people where the people set the agenda.

…. We envision that ecumenical organisations and churches will work together for justice on the basis of their common faith, rooted in the Bible, and will transform unjust structures. Sharing of material and non-material resources, of gifts, stories and capacities but also of burdens and duties will reflect our unity in Christ….

The ecumenical movement is called to offer an alternative to globalisation. Churches and ecumenical organisations need to think "oikoumenically" and act locally. A vision of "oikoumenisation", as opposed to globalisation, will strive for global community in full respect of the diversity of its members.

The ecumenical movement, as a movement deeply rooted in the realities and traditions of our churches and ecumenical organisations, needs to be a movement of all people, not just a clique of "ecumeniacs". This requires a "mainstreaming" of ecumenical formation through sharing of wisdom and knowledge, education and ongoing formation for people of all ages and ranks.

The 21st century needs cohesion and transparency in the cooperation of strong ecumenical groups and bodies on local, national, regional and global levels. Considering the complexity of many of the issues the world is facing, the ecumenical movement needs to connect the prophetic voice of the Church with the voices of peoples' organisations and movements struggling for the same objectives.

Our vision is that churches in the ecumenical movement of the 21st century will view people of other faiths as being part of God's household. The daily dialogue of life offers a basis for peaceful and constructive relationships and cooperation….

WHEREAS the ICCC and its member bodies are facing a leadership shortage and needs to prepare for leadership succession; and a decision was reached at both its World Congresses and Regional Congresses to prepare actively the younger generation for leadership;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Younger Generation Leaders of the ICCC now summons all young people in its churches to rise up and take up the challenge of …

  • Re-defining the meaning of "the household of faith", challenging the assertion that "people of other faiths (are to be accepted as) part of God's household", and explaining how the Christians should be related to those of other faiths without compromising their biblical vision that eternal salvation has been revealed only in the Bible through faith in Jesus Christ by the grace of God.
  • Re-dressing the wrong approach by showing that it is God who sets the agenda for the Church, not the people in the Church
  • Influencing all people towards the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ, with their Christian integrity, their life of holiness and their sacrificial love, realising that the core of leadership is to influence by example and by living out the Biblical precepts.

Proposing and implementing a plan to attract financial support for the many needs of the ICCC.
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