A warm welcome with cheers and high expectations awaited World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit when he touched down in Kingston earlier this week. The Jamaican capital was the first stop of a 10-day tour in the Caribbean.
Solid ecumenical traditions among WCC member churches in Jamaica, combined with their persistent advocacy for peace in the world, has made the island a vantage point for ecumenism in the Caribbean.
At a meeting with leaders of the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), which is the broadest national ecumenical body with eleven member churches, the impact of the island’s ecumenical movement was affirmed: “We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate our relationship and meet again here in Kingston. The JCC and its churches are strong members and partners of the ecumenical movement. It’s good that we start the visit in the Caribbean from here,” Tveit said in his welcome speech.
JCC president Rev. Merlyn Hyde-Riley, a scholar from the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, pledged his organization’s support on a global scale:
“The time I spent studying in Bossey was decisive to forge the way I try to lead the JCC today. Our ecumenical commitment goes beyond Jamaica and the Caribbean. We are ready to support the WCC also globally with our skills and gifts”, he said.
Since 2011, when WCC’s International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) was held in Jamaica, congregations on the island have played significant roles in the work for peace.
“The IEPC helped us define what just peace means which paved the way for the global pilgrimage that we embarked on after the WCC General Assembly in Busan in 2013. Those who take the responsibility for peace-building seriously always seek connections with the ecumenical organizations, because we are rooted in the congregations and present globally,” Tveit continued.
A very important part of the general secretary’s Caribbean journey, which also includes Barbados, Trinidad and Antigua, is visiting local communities, listening to church leaders and preaching in local churches.
On the agenda in Jamaica was a visit to Little Mount Olivet Basic School, an education center for children inaugurated in 2011 with support from the WCC, as part of the IEPC.
“The school is a concrete example of ecumenism and how we as Christian witnesses can work together to make a difference in people’s lives”, Tveit said.
World Council of Churches, oikoumene.org