|As a new academic year is officially underway, Bossey faculty and staff, together with 31 students from around the world gathered for an opening prayer service in the Bossey chapel on 13 September, embarking on what will be an intense period of ecumenical community building, academic learning, and discovering profound connectivity between them.|
Rev. Prof. Dr Simone Sinn, dean of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, remarked that “Ecumenical studies at Bossey are unique because of the multi-layered diversity of students, teaching staff and of the learning context in the World Council of Churches. Furthermore, the close collaboration with the faculty of theology at the University of Geneva strengthens our commitment of studying contemporary challenges in church and society critically and constructively.”
In an opening reflection, Dr Masiiwa Ragies Gunda, WCC programme executive on Overcoming Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Xenophobia challenged the students that“our diversities can be our weakness, making it impossible for us to live in community because we magnify what separates us on the various fault lines of our identities; however, our diversities can also be our strength because we have all the necessary skills and experiences that we need to thrive as a community. A strong community is not one in which everyone is like everyone, but rather one in which everyone is affirmed and supported to excel in the things they are particularly good at.”
“The spiritual experience of praying together, exposure to, and encounter with others from different cultural, ecclesial and theological traditions makes the Bossey experience for deepening, transforming, and enhancing identities,” said Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba, programme director for Unity, Mission, and Ecumenical Formation.
“In a world like this, wounded by divisions, what does it mean to commit to lifelong learning together so that we may honour God as we proclaim in the gospel of Jesus Christ and bear counter-cultural witness: the hope of unity, justice, and peace,” added Nalwamba.
For the students, expectations are already high for the time ahead as they each expressed what they are anticipating.
“It is my first time being in an ecumenical environment where I can meet, learn, and listen to various people from different backgrounds. I know for sure that we are here together seeking for the truth in unity and building beautiful relationships between us,” expressed Dimitrie Dalidis, who is a graduate in Orthodox Theology and comes from the Romanian Orthodox Church – Metropolis of Transylvania.
Jackline Makena Mutuma from the Methodist Church in Kenya shared that “I have come here to learn from people who come from different cultures and I have also come here wearing three hats of: courage, hope, and humility because these hats will enable me to learn while having an open mind and heart to different perspectives. I want to walk out of this place an ecumenist and a global citizen.”
As the semester begins, the Ecumenical Institute offers a weeklong orientation programme for the students to find their footing in a new learning environment.
Activities include ecumenical prayers, sharing meals, and attending introductory lectures together, as well as engagement with the local communities in the area.