Global ecumenical engagement

 FWCC General Secretary Gretchen Castle reports on recent ecumenical activities.

WCC Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and sustainable dev goals
WCC Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and sustainable dev goals

The Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development, sponsored by the World Council of Churches in Geneva, brought together over 100 partners from around the world to explore the great potential of faith based organizations to assist in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  As Quakers, we have a vision, and we join the multiplicity of other faiths in our commitment to bringing sustainable peace to the world. As General Secretary, Gretchen Castle attended the Forum, and affirms many of the themes that are familiar to Friends:  Diakonia affirms the presence of religious actors in social action; we can become increasingly multilingual using both capacity building language and faith language; we have a faith commitment to speak to ALL people out of respect and with equity; our spiritual imperative is at the heart of all we do; together we build unity; we have a prophetic theology that respects the dignity of the whole of creation; we are committed to the mobilization of processes that work toward the UN Sustainable Development goals, also known as the Global Goals.

Christian World Communions Conference of General Secretaries met in Bogota, Colombia in November.  It is an annual meeting held around the world, in which FWCC participates.  Gretchen Castle says it is her favourite meeting of the year, gathering with colleagues with no agenda other than sharing insights from each of our communions, finding commonalities, discussing challenges, and supporting each other in our ecumenical unity.  Out of this group have come invitations to meet with Pope Frances, to attend the Lutheran-Catholic reconciliation event in Lund, Sweden, and for Quakers to speak at the Seventh-day Adventist ‘Reformation, Christian Identity, and Freedom of Conscience’ event at the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Center in Washington, DC.

Gretchen receiving a gift from a member of the Baptist church in Bogotá.
Gretchen receiving a gift from a member of the Baptist church in Bogotá.

The Christian World Communions Conference of General Secretaries was hosted by the Mennonite World Conference in Bogota, Colombia, where we were able to meet with government officials, members of FARC, and ELN.  Colombia has been fighting an internal war for 50 years, and have recently negotiated a peace agreement, albeit a fragile one.  We heard of many commitments made and their accompanying stories.  Clearly they all want peace. As world faith leaders, we were able to encourage them.  We said the world cares very much that this peace is carried out with equity and respect.  Some denominations present have local churches in Colombia and we encouraged them to call on local congregations for help.  Please join us in praying for peace in Colombia.