Young people called upon to unite churches

The Taize community gathered tens of thousands of young Christians from all around Europe in Geneva to celebrate the New Year and to organize “vigils of reconciliation” for unity between churches that are divided from each other.

Ekklesia reports that Brother Alois, prior of the ecumenical community spoke to the young people saying “How can we be credible in speaking of a God of love if we remain separate?”

Brother Alois, who became the community’s leader after the death in 2005 of its Swiss-born founder, Brother Roger, said,

In Christ we belong to one another. When Christians are separated, the message of the Gospel becomes inaudible.

How can we respond to the new challenges of our societies, notably that of secularization and of mutual understanding between cultures, unless we bring together the gifts of the Holy Spirit placed in all the Christian families? How can we communicate Christ’s peace to all if we remain separated?

Let us no longer waste so much energy in the oppositions among Christians, sometimes even within our denominations! Let us come together more often in the presence of God, in listening to the Word, in silence and praise:

Once a month or every three months we can invite those who live in our towns, villages or regions to a “vigil for reconciliation”.

To prepare such a vigil, young people can set out and go towards others, to another parish or congregation, to another movement or group, and even invite young people searching for faith.

Then the desire will grow to do together all that can be done. What unites us is more important than what separates us: we need to let this reality shine out by our lives!

This is how Ekklesia described the event:

The “European Meeting of Young Adults” from 28 December to 1 January 2008 included moments of prayer, silence, song and testimonies. Taizeis a community of brothers that includes Protestants and Roman Catholics. It has developed its own style of music for meditation, using simple phrases, usually lines from the Psalms or other pieces of Scripture.

Brother Alois announced that the next European meeting would take place in Brussels, from 29 December 2008 to 2 January 2009, and that there would be a meeting for young adults from Africa in Nairobi in November 2008.

As well as evening prayer at the Palexpo centre each evening, there were smaller meetings at churches throughout the city as well as at the Geneva headquarters of the World Council of Churches. Many of Geneva’s streets thronged with young people during the period.

“It’s an encouragement to see young people in Europe getting closer when some people say Europe is going through post-Christianity,” WCC general secretary the Rev. Samuel Kobia told Taizeparticipants meeting at the church grouping’s headquarters.

In his 28 December opening meditation, Brother Alois recalled that Brother Roger had left Geneva in 1940 to look for a place in France where he could found a Christian community.

The Geneva gathering was the 30th Taizemeeting of young adults from Europe. The first was held in Paris over the 1978-1979 New Year, and the last before Geneva was held in the Croatian capital, Zagreb. The community said 40 000 people took part in the five-day Geneva gathering, 30 000 coming from outside Switzerland. The biggest national grouping was from Poland, with more than 9000 participants.

Read: Ekklesia: Taize leader urges young people to help unite churches

Also, check out the Taize community’s own description of the event here and here.

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