It might seem like a trivial task to help with the logistical arrangements of a major meeting. However, for the “stewards” of the World Council of Churches (WCC), this task means more than merely helping out.
“Yes, we do get to help with documentation and logistical arrangements of the meeting. However, this is accompanied by learning about different ways of living the Christian faith and experiencing a multi-cultural environment,” said David Rubén Romero-Mazzini, working with the Evangelical Youth Network in Peru.
The stewards programme is designed for young adults aged between 18 to 30, who get the opportunity to participate in ecumenical events under the auspices of the WCC. At the Central Committee meeting, where one of stewards' tasks is to contribute to the “running of the show”, they also engage in dialogue and get introduced to the council's work.
Given the tradition of stewards' programmes in the past, this initiative is considered a platform of ecumenical formation for young people. It is also said to be an opportunity where “ecumenical leaders are in the making”. However, Nam Ki-Pyung, a 28-year-old student of theology from the Korean Methodist Church, has a different understanding about the role of youth in the churches.
“Young people are always considered the 'future of the ecumenical movement'. However, I find something cliché about it. I think we are not the future, but the present of the ecumenical movement,” said Ki-Pyung. For him young people in the churches have a great potential now. If they are given a chance, says Ki-Pyung, they can contribute fresh perspectives on issues of ecumenical concern.
Yet, for Jean Nenda-Nyeche, the meeting means “widening of horizons”. “The reason why I applied for the stewards programme was to extend my perspectives on ecumenism. While we get to help in running the meeting, it is also an opportunity for us to listen to the ecumenical and church leaders,” noted Nenda-Nyeche, 25, a steward from St. Paul Anglican Church of Athens, Greece.