Gathering in Sibiu (Romania), the World Council of Churches (WCC) youth commission ECHOS met on 17-20 August for days of discernment on the position and role of youth in the ecumenical movement today, and to set the future path of the commission, as it journeys on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Moderator Martina Viktorie Kopecká, from the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, who is also a member of the WCC Executive Committee and of the WCC Ecumenical Officers Network, welcomed the group saying, “as ECHOS commissioners, we are all called by God, who sent us on the most important mission, to proclaim the good news… Part of this journey of love,is to visit wounds and repent, to move forward, but also to move in the middle of our hearts, as we are on the pilgrimage together.”
A key point of focus for the commissioners was on how to be strategic in encouraging youth representation and securing active engagement of youth in the ecumenical movement in the future.
The ECHOS Commission consists of 20 young people from a broad cross-section of churches and youth organizations within the ecumenical movement. The commission is regionally balanced, gender-balanced, and enriched with the indigenous voice. The name ECHOS, which is a transcription of the Greek word Hχος meaning sound, was taken in 2007, with the explanation: “We realized that our generation did not create many of the structures existing today. We are called to respond to the echos from the past of those ecumenical leaders ― young and old ― who have gone before us. We must also lay the groundwork for the youth that will come after this generation. So we hope to send our voices as echos into the future.”
The WCC 10th Assembly in Busan affirmed the need to have a body that enables active involvement of young adults and ensures sustainable development of youth engagement within ecumenical movements, the ECHOS Commission. Members of the ECHOS Commission come from each of the other WCC commissions, from the Executive Committee to moderate and provide on-going follow-up with WCC governing structures, from the Central Committee and member churches
from the broader ecumenical constituency. The ECHOS Commission gathers once a year, and entertains three working groups, on communication, ecumenical formation, and networking, respectively.