The Moderator´s Report 2015

Report by ECRL Moderator Thomas Wipf, Council meeting in Brixen/Bressanone, Friday, May 13, 2016.

Sustainable development goals

On September 2015 the nations of the world have adopted in a special UN Assembly 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are for everyone on earth. They aim to end poverty and hunger; ensure clean water, affordable energy, health care and education for all; protect the world’s ecosystems and shift to a sustainable use of the earth’s resources; and build more inclusive, just and peaceful societies.
Religion for Peace International and our NYC Headquarter was involved in this project and we as members of the World Council signed a declaration where it says: We enthusiastically urge the implementation of the SDGs and the embrace of the unifying concept of “sustainable development.” Together, they are critical for the progress of all peoples. They make it clear that “social inclusion” and “environmental sustainability” are integral to development.
As religious representatives we are committed to help implement the SDGs and we call upon all people to adopt the values and cultivate the virtues of sustainable development in their personal and professional lives; Religious communities and each religious believer to support the SDGs through action, education and advocacy and to help build the trust that can support collaboration for sustainable development. I want to remind us of this important document and encourage us to deal with it as ECRL. We have so many fields of „Common action“.

  1. Poverty – End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. Food – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Health – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Women – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Water – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Energy – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy for all
  8. Economy – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrializations and foster innovation
  10. Inequality – Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Habitation – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Consumption – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Climate – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Marine-ecosystems – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Ecosystems – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Institutions – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Sustainability – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Project Berlin – London – Paris

Last year I met in Berlin the commissioner for churches, religion and philosophical communities of the Lord Mayor of Berlin and other responsible persons.
We talked about the situation in major European cities with a high religious diversity, there are numerous initiatives and institutions that seek to improve the coexistence of faithful or devotees from different religions and denominations.
The starting positions in many cities are comparable. Big cities in Europe are „a laboratory situation for intercultural and interreligious life“. Despite this comparability an exchange is still missing about what happens in the other cities with regard to interreligious dialogues and interreligious cooperation and what has been successfully implemented. We drafted in Berlin a proposal that an exchange experience and knowledge of relevant protagonists of European metropolitan areas is required.
In the long term the target group of such exchange could consist of protagonists of interfaith institutions, of people who are responsible for the relationship with the governments and government representatives responsible for the relations with religious communities.
The object of a mutual exchange would be the information of best practice and questions such as
– What are the (common/significant challenges?
– Which approaches, strategies and concrete measures have proved effective?
– Which approaches have proved to be not effective?
ECRL would be the inviting platform, working together with the relevant partners and their support in Berlin, London and possibly Paris.
Berlin is ready to invite for a small „nucleus-circle“ to prepare the project.

Reformation Jubilee 2017

Next year, 2017, will be the anniversary 500 years of Reformation. Reformation started as re-formation of the one Christian church on several places in Europe during 100 years and is still on going. One of the symbolic days is October 31 1517 when Luther put his 95 thesis to reform and renew the Christian church to the church door in Wittenberg. That’s why 2017 will be an important and a worldwide Jubilee. In Europe 65 cities which are important for Reformation will organize big events, theological and cultural events. The Anniversary of Reformation will be an on going one. In Switzerland e.g. 2019 is very important when Reformation started in Zurich with Zwingli and a bit later in Geneva with Calvin.
One big event in Germany will be the Protestant Kirchentag in May 2017 with together a million participants and a World Reformation Exhibition in Wittenberg. Reformation had a big historical, cultural, theological, social and economical influence worldwide. But I am convinced that Reformation, on-going Reformation, is not only an important protestant issue. Life needs Re-formation, our personal and social life, but also religions need Re-formation in the sense going back to the roots and thinking about what Religion and Faith mean today for every human being and for our religious community. Last week Protestant leaders at the Protestant Media Days in Berlin pointed out, that the Reformation anniversary 2017 is also to stimulate the dialogue with other religions.
My dream is that the Religious Leaders from different traditions in ECRL could think about Re-formation in our own tradition and taking the impulses from the Reformation Jubilee 2017 for this. In the ExComm in Zurich last year we had a short discussion about what the Christian Reformation was and is. Our friends from other traditions were very interested to hear more about. And we as Christians and Protestants we are interested to hear about Re-Formation – semper reformanda – on the basis of the scriptures and traditions in your community. Tomorrow Dr. Detlef Görrig, the commissioner of EKD for interreligious dialogue, will be with us and I would like to ask him for any information about the presence of the interreligious partners and the dialogue at the Reformation Anniversary and the Protestant Kirchentag next year. And maybe some of you from different traditions are also interested to think about a small project or a small conference with participants of different traditions next year to share our thoughts and experiences about Re-formation.