Study at Bossey
Since its creation in 1946, the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Institute at the Château de Bossey has been fulfilling its mission of ecumenical theological formation and education. With its holistic way of education - which combines academic research, cross-cultural learning through life in community, spiritual experience, exposure to and encounter with other faith communities, Bossey continues to have a special place and vocation in ecumenical formation today.
Ecumenical education in a multicultural environment…
In order to face the challenges of living in increasingly pluralistic societies, in a world of economic and cultural globalization, climate change, neglect of human rights and attempts to justify growing violence in the name of religion, the churches need leaders with knowledge of other religious traditions and with a sensitivity to confessional and cultural differences.
A part of the World Council of Churches and attached to the University of Geneva, the Ecumenical Institute offers three distinct study programmes on the graduate level. Each year the Institute welcomes a group of no more than 40 students from around the world and from many different Christian traditions.
Under the guidance of a culturally and confessionally diverse faculty, students not only engage in academic studies but learn from one another and experience the oneness of Christ in an intensive community setting through common worship, group and individual study and many personal encounters. Many of them have borne witness later that their time at the Ecumenical Institute was life-changing. Their prejudices have been questioned, their identity strengthened and transformed. They have received an understanding of the diversity of religious traditions and a sensitivity for the other. They have learned to engage with diversity in creative and productive ways.
The Ecumenical Institute is a unique place for ecumenical education. The content of the teaching is focussed on the challenges for the churches in the 21st century and the responses given through the modern ecumenical movement. The methodology is a combination of academic teaching and experiential learning.
REV. DR DAGMAR HELLER, ACADEMIC DEAN,
PROFESSOR FOR ECUMENICAL THEOLOGY
...and in a unique place
The Château de Bossey stands in the Swiss countryside between the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva. Since the Middle Ages, this region has been known locally as “terre sainte” (holy land) due to its particular Christian history. Located 15 km from Geneva, the Château is close to the headquarters of international ecumenical organizations, United Nations agencies and the University of Geneva. It is a meeting centre that combines accommodation, modern meeting rooms and a welcoming environment for seminars, conferences and events aimed both at individuals and groups. The facilities of the campus include two chapels, a library, ten fully-equipped meeting rooms and 90 bedrooms. The self-service restaurant caters daily breakfast, lunch and dinner for students and all other guests.
Community life is very important for the style of teaching at the Ecumenical Institute. In addition to common class sessions, one of the main places for living community is Petit Bossey, a charming old mansion approximately 200 meters away from the Château, where the students are lodged. In addition to two sitting rooms for encounter and discussion, there is ample opportunity for leisure activities including volleyball, table tennis, cycling, relaxing in the garden, and walking, jogging or hiking in the surrounding countryside.
At the heart of the students’ life at Bossey is regular common prayer in the main chapel, where students discover their differences in faith and find ways to stand together in the presence of God.
Service learning is another component which strengthens community life in Bossey in two ways: Care of creation, and community service through gardening tasks and dish washing, raise sensitivity for the needs of others.
The campus hosts the library of the World Council of Churches, which holds about 100,000 volumes and 900 specialized periodicals. It includes a unique and comprehensive collection on ecumenism and the history of the ecumenical movement as well as collections in specialized areas such as missiology, contextual theology and interfaith dialogue. The library also gives access to various electronic sources, e.g. e-books, e-journals and online databases in the field of religious studies.
FR. DR IOAN SAUCA, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE,
ASSOCIATE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE WCC