By Gladys Mangiduyos*
As the World Council of Churches assembly theme beckons the participants to ask God to lead them to justice and peace, spaces for celebration, dialogue and reflection are provided.
Ecumenical conversation is the avenue for that in-depth dialogue.
The 21 organized ecumenical conversations during the Oct. 30-Nov.8 assembly engage participants in sustained and in-depth conversations on critical issues that affect the life and witness of the church today.
One of the conversations, “Human Security: Towards Sustaining Peace with Justice and Rights,” challenges the traditional notion and dominant practice of national security by arguing that the proper referent for security is the human being.
“Human security is profoundly linked to human dignity, human rights and fullness of life,” explained the Rev. Liberato Bautista, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, who is serving as a resource person for that conversation.
True human security, he argued in the initial presentation, ensures the integration of justice, peace and human rights with the nurturing of sustainable communities. “Any discussion about security,” Bautista said, “must address risks and vulnerabilities that marginalize, minoritize and dehumanize peoples.”
Human dignity is a gift from God, not the result of the benevolence of the state, he pointed out. Assaults on human rights are therefore a source of insecurity and vulnerability.
Discussions about human security are not alien to the ecumenical agenda, Bautista reminded the group. Globalization, especially related to issues of capital and labor, is a matter demanding the attention of the ecumenical movement.
The next sessions of the conversation will engage participants on the biblical basis and contextual experiences of human security and look at situations such as militarization and climate change, which greatly affect indigenous peoples.
Each conversation, unfolding over four 90-minute sessions, has between 80 and 120 participants. The conversation groups will prepare short reports that will be submitted to the new WCC Central Committee in 2014.
* Mangiduyos, a deaconess in the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference, is a UMNS correspondent at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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