Bossey: forming ambassadors of reconciliation
Prof. Dr Dagmar Heller during the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Ecumenical Institute. © Albin Hillert/WCC
07 October 2016
The sound of a bell “calling across fields and cities, re-assembling the community that celebrates the new creation” opened the Sunday service prepared to commemorate 70 years of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, on 2 October. The celebration closed a three-day programme of activities around the historic institute’s anniversary.
Inspired by the theme of reconciliation, the liturgy brought together aspects of several cultural expressions from around the world, reflecting the diversity of Bossey’s alumni provenance.
The service, broadcast live by the Radio Télévision Suisse Romande (RTS), was led by Rev. Dr Dagmar Heller, Rev. Dr Ioan Sauca, Rev. Terry MacArthur and Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi, with musical and liturgical participation of students and teachers of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.
The Toaca from Romania, a conch shell from the Tahiti, a rain stick from Brazil, a bamboo instrument from Indonesia, a Korean gong, an igba from Nigeria beaten “in time with the heart of God’s people” — all prepared the atmosphere for Prof. Dr Elisabeth Gangloff-Parmentier’s sermon on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.
Parmentier explored the image of Bossey students as ambassadors of reconciliation.
Reflecting on the text from Corinthians, she stressed that “the apostle does not say ‘go evangelize, go convert others, go bring reconciliation to the people’. It says: ‘In the name of Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled with God’”.
Parmentier went on to say that “Bossey, as the World Council of Churches, became in 70 years an international laboratory for reconciliation, training, and of learning to live together for believers in churches that are not united, but yet devote themselves to ensuring that dialogue prevails.”
“We see today how the ecumenical orientation is imperative. It is no longer time to lament the loss of our identities or the subtleties of our respective traditions”, she said. “Bossey students experience both how it is difficult to learn to accept differences and to live together”, added Parmentier.
For Prof. Dr Dagmar Heller, dean of the Ecumenical Institute, “the service was a very good opportunity to experience the richness of the ecumenical movement both for our students and for the guests participating in the event”, she said.
“The service picked up one of the core messages of the work we do in Bossey, which is reconciliation”, added Heller.
Over seven decades, Bossey has received hundreds of students passionate to learn about dialogue and ecumenical reflection. Each year, more than 40 students from all Christian denominations and from around the world pursue a degree recognized by the University of Geneva.