July 22 to 28, 2002
The long, sometimes frustrating but most of the time fulfilling, process of organizing ecumenical teams towards nurturing grassroots ecumenism finally gained fruits as the National Coordinators Training had been conducted at the We Train Centre in Bangkok, Thailand last July 22-28, 2002. Twenty-six participants, including the EASYNet Core Team members, representing 12 countries attended the training.
The participants attended as either National Coordinators of countries with established Ecumenical Team or Representatives of countries, which have not yet completed the selection of their National Coordinators. The National Coordinators, who are national representatives selected by each ecumenical team, composed of representatives from EASYNet member organizations at the national level, are expected to coordinate and facilitate the activities set by the ecumenical teams.
This Bangkok training was organized to facilitate an understanding of ecumenism and the realities of the region, learn about networking, advocacy and organizing students/youth groups and clarify the role of the National Coordinators in ecumenical movement building. The training also aimed at motivating the participants towards ecumenical activism.
Two Resource Persons, Dr. Lau Kin Chi, Assistant Professor at Lingnan University, Hong Kong and Ms. Yong Ting Jin, Coordinator of Asian Women¡¦s Resource Centre for Culture and Theology (AWRC) helped deepen the understanding of the participants and inspired them to be actively involved in the ecumenical movement.
The participants shared their experiences and the challenges faced in working towards the building of the National Ecumenical Team. Differences in the understanding of ecumenism, realization of Unity in Diversity, giving priority to the EASYNet and sustaining the life of the EASYNet were noted as the participants’ concerns in organizing the ecumenical teams.
The participants also reflected on the history and foundation of the ecumenical movement by students and youth in Asia-Pacific. They reaffirmed Jesus’ prophetic vision of Basilea which proclaims the Good News of God’s reign (Lk.4: 18-19) and ecumenism through Jubilee as a vision to inaugurate the reign of God (Deut. 15).
Networking was also dealt with and it had been realized that networking would be strengthened as young people strive not for individualism but for the total well being of humankind and be able to connect their personal history with the social history of their own context. The participants discussed that the key elements to enhance the networking efforts include spirit of participatory democracy; inclusiveness; openness; process-oriented approach and quality of leaders.
In their search and rediscovery of ecumenism, the participants felt compelled to respond to the common Asian and Pacific realities such as social conflicts, exploitation, poverty, gender injustice, religious intolerance, ecological crisis, globalization, and human rights violations. They expressed their commitment to develop the spirit of grassroots ecumenism. They also had an opportunity to discuss and present their action plans to translate their commitments into concrete actions.
The Solidarity Night, Cultural Afternoon and Devotions as components of the programme helped deepen the bond, spirit of solidarity, will to act and ecumenical activism among the participants.
At the end of the training, the Coordinators/Representatives have realized that their work had barely started. With mixed anxiety and confidence, they expressed their commitment to continue the networking process and come up with some joint actions with the core organizations at the national level.