8 August, 2019, Lahore: Focusing on the theme ‘Lord, Send Your Light and Truth to Lead Us’ Psalms 43:3, the Ecumenical School for Young People on Justice and Peace in Pakistan, initiated by the Youth in Action into Transformation for Religious Amity (YATRA), was scheduled to take place at Saint John’s Retreat and Training Center, Dunga Gali, from 28 July – 3 August, 2019.
The ecumenical school aim is to engage, motivate and prepare young people to contribute in an ecumenical platform to express their views on emerging national challenges, examine, reflect and unpack the underlying concerns faced by young people and advocate social justice issues towards sustainable future.
The main speakers of the event include Fr. Cecil Paul, OMI, Director Oblets Philosophate, Pakistan, Rev. I.B. Rocky, Presbyter – Saint Philip’s Church, Diocese of Raiwind, Church of Pakistan, Rev. Reuben Qamar, Presbyter – Forman Christian College Church, Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, Mr. Ihtsham Ravi, Country Coordinator, South Asia Ecumenical Youth Network, Mr. Nayyar Mushtaq, Program Manager Compliance, World Relief, Mr. Aamir Amjad, Senior Program Coordinator, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Mr. Ghulam Murtaza, Programs Manager, Peace & Education Foundation, Mr. Jamshed Samroon Gill, Country Coordinator, World Evangelical Alliance and Mr. James Rehmat, Executive Director Ecumenical Commission for Human Development.
The key religious speakers were extremely articulate in enlightening the participants on Journey Together: Prophetic Witness to the Light & Truth in Pakistan, Mission as Prophetic Accompaniment, Mission as Participating in the Reign of God and Mission as Embodying the Spirituality of the Cross. The other honorable speakers addresses to participants on State of the Christian Youth in Pakistan: Challenges, Opportunities & Way Forward, Nurturing of inter-religious Harmony & Building Peace, Religious intolerance, politicization of religions, fundamentalism and extremism etc., Witness to the Truth & Light: Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism & Islamic Prospective, Prophetic Witness: Groaning of Economic, ecological and gender injustice; Digital Communication towards justice & peace; Youth as Salt and Light in Pakistan: future of the nation and Ecumenical Youth Movement: Catalysts for Change.
James Rehmat, Executive Director of Ecumenical Commission for Human Development stated that, young people are losing their hope due to poverty, hunger, disease and injustice. There is a dire need to celebrate diversity by accepting and respecting religions through inter-religious dialogues, support peaceful resolutions and set aside a prayer day for justice and peace; proactively engage with marginalized communities and accompany them in their journey to be recognized, listened to, respected and treated equally.
He also stated that our actions should break physical and attitudinal barriers that prevent people living with disability and HIV and AIDS by providing adequate awareness and information, care and support; supporting equality between women and men, enabling transformation of gender relations and partnership in the church and society; struggling for political participation as equal citizenship, repeal of discriminatory laws and policies against children, women, trans-genders and religious minorities; and use digital media sensibly and engage with each other without judgment, hate, hurt, prejudice and to limit of the proliferation of fake news.
The Christian young people committed with Ecumenical Commission for Human Development and adopted the statement with following steps for actions:
- Establish ecumenical youth network to strengthen the fellowship, promote Christian unity, advocate together for justice and peace, encourage spirituality and build trust and understanding for prophetic witnesses.
- Organise programs to help youth understand ecumenism, ecumenical leadership, prophetic witness and Diakonia, economic challenges world faces, ecological and gender justice issues and promotion of democratic values.
- Initiate Ecumenical School for Young People in the country, that will work based on affirmation, response and commitment for ecumenical gathering.
Mr. Asher Dean, Country Director, World Relief International, distribute certificates to the participants. He also address with participants that YATRA initiative is providing a common platform for young Christians to empower young people, amplify their voice, exercise leadership skills, engage in innovative theological reflections and build transformative network in order to meaningfully affirm the prophetic witness, as well as helping them to drive a transformative change in their diocese, parish and communities.
Ecumenical Commission for Human Development is very thankful for generous technical and financial support of Church of Scotland and Brot-fur-die-Welt, Germany for organizing this ecumenical school for young people on justice and peace in Pakistan.
Ecumenical Commission for Human Development is independent Christian advocacy, humanitarian relief and development agency, dedicated to build a world free from poverty, disease and injustice. ECHD is strongly committed to motivate and prepare young people to contribute in church work and advocating social justice issues towards sustainable future.