FAITH

Aug. 27, 2020

27 August 2020

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) have released a joint document, “Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19 and Beyond.” Its purpose is to encourage churches and Christian organizations to reflect on the importance of interreligious solidarity in a world wounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The document offers a Christian basis for interreligious solidarity that can inspire and confirm the impulse to serve a world wounded not only by COVID-19 but also by many other wounds.

The publication is also designed to be useful to practitioners of other religions, who have already responded to COVID-19 with similar thoughts based on their own traditions.

The document recognizes the current context of the pandemic as a time for discovering new forms of solidarity for rethinking the post-COVID-19 world. Comprised of five sections, the document reflects on the nature of a solidarity sustained by hope and offers a Christian basis for interreligious solidarity, a few key principles and a set of recommendations on how reflection on solidarity can be translated into concrete and credible action.

WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca reflected that interreligious dialogue is vital to healing and caring for one another on a global level. “In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the human family is facing together an unprecedented call to protect one another, and to heal our communities,” he said. “Interreligious dialogue not only helps clarify the principles of our own faith and our identity as Christians, but also opens our understanding of the challenges—and creative solutions—others may have.”

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the PCID, reflected that Christian service and solidarity in a wounded world have been part of agenda of the PCID and WCC since last year. The COVID-19 pandemic pressed the project into action as “a timely ecumenical and interreligious response,” he said, adding that “the pandemic has exposed the woundedness and fragility of our world, revealing that our responses must be offered in an inclusive solidarity, open to followers of other religious traditions and people of good will, given the concern for the entire human family.”

The document is the latest to be co-produced by the WCC and the PCID following the publication of “Education for Peace in a Multi-Religious World: A Christian Perspective" in May 2019.

Strengthening inter-religious trust and respect (https://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/inter-religious-trust-and-respect)

Coping with the Coronavirus (https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/covid-19)

Link to the publication (https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation/serving-a-wounded-world-in-interreligious-solidarity-a-christian-call-to-reflection-and-action-during-covid-19)

Aug. 27, 2020

 

 

BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my

 

 By Kristine Brown

Hannah knew what it meant to live with God as her portion, but not at first. We all learn our greatest lessons by trusting God through difficult times, and Hannah was no exception. From her story, we too can discover a deeper trust in the One who is above all, even in the scariest times. We can learn what it means when God is our portion. God is my portion when I don’t have enough.

 

“But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb,” 1 Samuel 1:5).

Hannah wanted a child more than anything. 1 Samuel 1:8 describes her as “downhearted.” Something was missing from her life, and her husband Elkanah did everything he could to console her, even giving her a double portion.

There will be times when we don’t have enough. We may even wonder why God isn’t providing the way we think He should. It could be one of life’s basic needs, like money to pay bills or food in the pantry. We may seek answers, like I did when my heart problem returned. We may long for healing. Whatever the desire, let’s remember this truth: God knows more about what we need than we do. Sometimes He doesn’t take the pain away, but instead comforts us through it. How we handle difficulties can encourage others and draw His children closer to Him. Your journey can become just the inspiration someone else needs.

 
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Aug. 27, 2020


Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC, 2020.

27 August 2020

Anxiety, stress and unexpected changes in lifestyles are making it increasingly difficult for many youngsters to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Alcohol and substance abuse are on the rise as young people desperately search for answers to what is happening around them. Mental health issues are rapidly following In the wake of the physical health and socio-economic issues caused by COVID-19.

Yet mental disorders sometimes do not evoke the same empathy as other diseases, said Dr Mwai Makoka, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Health and Healing. “They are often misunderstood and overshadowed by stigma, misconceptions, prejudice, and superstition.”

Some people wrongly believe that mental disorders are demonic, the result of a curse, or due to lack of willpower, Makoka added. “But just as our stomachs, lungs, skin, eyes and other body parts fall sick, our brains and mental faculties can also be afflicted by different illnesses.”

In a podcast aired on 27 August, Dr Brian MacLachlan, senior consultant psychiatrist at the Psychiatric Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados; and Jeremiah Edward Bohol, a clinical psychologist from the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines and psychology professor at the University of the Philippines, share their concerns about growing mental health problems among young people and elaborate on how faith communities can play a role in easing pain and sustaining hope among those affected.

“The question is how we equip our churches with tools that promote awareness and mental health wellness,” explains podcast moderator Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement. “Mental health is a vital aspect of wellbeing throughout our lives—it is the ability to be self-aware, manage our emotions, and cope with problems.”

MacLachlan underlines education as a potent tool to raise awareness and mitigate judgmental behaviour against mental health patients. “There is still a lot of stigma associated with psychiatric facilities and mental health in general, but mental health and wellbeing, and mental health care and treatment, are important for our society in helping people live happy and productive lives,” he said. “Seeing a doctor for a mental health condition raises all kinds of questions and is very different from being treated for a concrete disease such as diabetes.”

Jeremiah Bohol elaborates on how faith communities can help in addressing the public stigma related to mental health problems and how they can provide comfort and relief.
“We look at practical ways to discern mental illness and be more accommodating and inclusive as a church community. We can ease burdens by listening to understand rather than listening to reply,” he says.

The podcast is first in a series moderated by members of the WCC COVID-19 Support Team, who have been answering questions from WCC member churches as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Aug. 25, 2020



Agnes Abuom. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC 2018

25 August 2020

Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC), contributed to a G20 Interfaith Forum on Africa hosted by KAICIID, or the International Dialogue Centre, dedicated to the facilitation of dialogue between followers of different cultures and religions.

Abuom addressed the specific topic of addressing COVID-19 amidst increasing deforestation, hunger, and international debt.

“The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many of the inequities and injustices that are prevalent,” reflected Abuom. “The reality of living in multi-religious and diverse contexts ensure that our actions and commitments are carried out in a spirit of solidarity and calls us to be accountable to the broader society we live in.”

A day without work often translates to a day without food, Abuom continued. “The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also caused 370 million (of the 1.3 billion children who are out of school) to miss out on school meals and limit their access to nutritious food and health support schemes,” she said. “In spite of challenges to come together physically and pray together, and many communities lacking the technological capacity to meet and communicate online, the community has responded in a robust and inspiring manner.”

She also addressed deforestation and forest degradation, which continue to take place at an alarming rate. “Over the last 30 years, approximately 60-70 per cent of the new diseases that emerged in humans had an animal origin,” Abuom reflected. “The welfare of the indigenous people who constitute 5 percent of the world’s population is critically linked to the very survival of humanity.”

By respecting and conserving forests, we protect both the diversity of creation, and indigenous people, who are guardians of creation, said Abuom. “Most significantly, we also protect ourselves from deadly new diseases.”

Other speakers at the forum included H.E. Jalel Chelba, head of Civil Society Division, African Union Citizens and Diaspora Directorate; H.E. minister Pauline Tallen, minister of Women and Social Affairs, Nigeria; Cardinal John Onaiyekan, archbishop emeritus, Nigeria; Dr Iyad Abumoghli, principal policy advisor, United Nations Environment Programme; H.E. Dr Martin Pascal Tine, ambassador of the Republic of Senegal to the Holy See.

Aug. 16, 2020


Aug. 16, 2020
MILWAUKEE, WI—The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) today announced the faith leaders who will give the invocation and benediction during each night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. At the convention—which will take place over four nights from August 17-20 and air from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern—Democrats will celebrate our nation’s collective strength, diversity, and humanity and prepare to unite around Joe Biden’s vision for a kinder and stronger country.
Participants include:

Monday’s Invocation—Reverend Dr. Gabriel Salguero: Reverend Salguero is the president and founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and the pastor at The Gathering Place in Orlando, Florida. He formerly served as the director of the Hispanic Leadership Program at Princeton Theological Seminary and on the My Brother's Keeper Advisory Board.

Monday’s Benediction—Pastor Jerry Young: Pastor Young has faithfully led the vibrant congregation of New Hope Baptist Church since 1980. Under his watchful care, Pastor Young has led New Hope to experience explosive growth physically, spiritually, and influentially for the cause of Christ. To date, the ministry is comprised of over three thousand members and forty-four ministries. He is the immediate past President of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi, Inc. and immediate past Vice President At-Large of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Dr. Young was elected as the 18th President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. in September 2014, during the convention's 134th Annual Session held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Tuesday’s Benediction—Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde: Bishop Budde serves as spiritual leader for 88 Episcopal congregations and ten Episcopal schools in the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties. The first woman elected to this position, she also serves as the chair and president of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which oversees the ministries of the Washington National Cathedral and Cathedral schools.

Wednesday’s Benediction—His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America: Archbishop Elpidophoros is the eighth Archbishop of America elected since the establishment of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in 1922. He has been an active member of the World Council of Churches serving on its Central Committee and also serving on its Faith and Order Commission since 1996.

Thursday’s Invocation—Sister Simone Campbell: Sister Simone is the Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice—a federal advocacy organization founded by Catholic Sisters to lobby in Washington, DC for policies that mend the gaps in income and wealth in the United States. She has also led six cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips focused on tax justice, healthcare, economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and mending the gaps.

Thursday’s Benediction—Rabbi Lauren Berkun: Rabbi Berkun is a Vice President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, where she directs Rabbinic Initiatives and is a member of the senior executive team. She also oversees staff education, training and curriculum development for Hartman’s iEngage project.

Thursday’s Benediction—The Reverend James Martin, SJ: The Reverend James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America, and the author of many books, including Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide, and the forthcoming Learning to Pray.

Thursday’s Benediction—Imam Dr. Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid: Imam Talib is a Muslim faith-based social justice activist whose mission spans more than three decades. He has been the religious and spiritual leader (Imam) of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. since November 1989. The mosque, located in Harlem, New York City, is the fifty-three-year-old lineal descendant of the Muslim Mosque Inc. founded by the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) in 1964. Imam ‘Abdur-Rashid is also a former Ameer (President) of the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York. Currently he is its Special Assistant for Restorative Justice, Civil and Human Rights. Nationally, the imam serves as the Deputy Amir (Vice President) of The Muslim Alliance in North America.

Earlier today, Democrats came together ahead of the convention for an interfaith service, led by religious leaders and performers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and all across the nation who represent the unique backgrounds and communities that together will help Joe Biden restore the soul of America. The full service can be viewed on the convention’s YouTube page here.