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Struggling in divisive times to celebrate the diversity that enriches our lives


As I read reports and see photos on Facebook about the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Institute, established in 1946 at Chateau de Bossey, I am heartened that the program and people, who so powerfully influenced my life 46 years ago, are still nurturing ecumenical relationships.

“It’s still a meeting place for the world’s agenda in addressing issues of peace and globalization, of interfaith encounter, and of the care for God’s creation and eco-justice,” said Robert Welsh, a classmate and Disciples of Christ ecumenical leader who has been involved with Bossey for 30 years.

I worked with him over the years related to Bossey and the WCC.

Robert recently updated The Story of Bossey: A Laboratory for Ecumenical Life authored by the Rev. Hans-Ruedi Weber, a professor when I was there.

Why mention this in the midst of a political campaign where hate has received more attention than compassion about issues?

Robert’s words speak to me about why it is important for us to rise above this moment in history: “The message of Bossey is finally borne out in the lives of persons who have been touched and marked and shaped by this place and its programs - persons scattered across the whole world: proclaiming a vision of what it means to be ‘God’s people’ beyond the boundaries of nation, class, race, gender, and denominational or confessional identity.”

We each—whether we encountered people at Bossey or anywhere in our lives—as people of faith are to be the voices, hands, arms, feet and bodies bringing reconciliation and healing into the church, among the faiths and in the world.

We each—as we did in that diverse community of faith—fall short,

struggling with our relationships,
struggling with media-saturated lives,
struggling with the inequities that limit,
struggling with voices of hate emerging,
struggling with feeling hopelessness,
struggling with wars end lives,
struggling to live sustainably.

We struggle, because we believe there is cause for hope; because we seek to create peace, justice and sustainable communities; because we believe that we, though many, are one. We struggle to be God’s children and to be God’s love.

We see a “monster storm” flatten Haiti, and then it disappears from the news, giving way to the next natural or human-made disaster.  My heart aches for Haiti, Nepal and places and people devastated by hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, flooding, wildfires, wars, shootings, terrorist attacks or enemy image.

As we see a campaign rip apart the beauty of multi-cultural, multi-gender, multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-age, multi-ability diversity, we know we have much work to do to overcome our torn relationships, communities, society, nation and world.

Because of Bossey, faith communities and stories in this Fig Tree, we know people work tirelessly to bring healing in the midst of devastation.   May we trust God will walk with us, empowering us to walk with each other.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright © November 2016 - The Fig Tree