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Interfaith Learning and Ethics Education at the WCC Assembly

Mutirão Offered Around Ethics Education Initiative
Music, drums and drama marked the opening plenary session of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. It was the first time a WCC Assembly was held in Latin America and a record number of young people were attending. In the opening session, participants were invited and challenged to make the assembly a spiritual event in the authentic sense of the word.
 
Archbishop Anastasios, who also serves as member of the Interfaith Council addressed the Assembly at the Opening. He emphasized the need for people to transform themselves to become inexhaustible sources of action for service and creative struggle for healing and reconciliation. One of the key speakers, Mr. Olara Otunnu, the President of the LBL Foundation for Children, reported on the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in northern Uganda underlining that it has been going on non-stop for the past 20 years. Two million people, of whom 80% are women and children, have been driven into some 20 concentration camps run by Lord’s Resistance Army.
 
A river of light flowed through downtown Porto Alegre on Wednesday night as up to two thousand people - including two Nobel Prize-winners - took part in a candle-lit march for peace. Young people carried banners highlighting peace and justice issues. Representatives of other faiths took part in the peace march and Nobel prize-winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel improvised a poem in addressing the crowd. The evening was brought to a climax with an address by the second Nobel Prize-winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 
 
A workshop on interfaith learning and ethics education was offered by the GNRC and the Interfaith Council. It was well attended and provided information about the AF, the GNRC and the Interfaith Council. Committee member Heidi Hadsell talked about ethics and children, focusing on the core values of the toolkit. After a short outline of the toolkit Committee member Vinu Aram continued in exploring the intention and the methodology and pedagogy of the toolkit, sharing information from the test workshop in Sweden. GNRC member Larry Madrigal, who represented the GNRC Mesoamerica, gave valuable information about GNRC regional activities and shared the most important needs in the region. In the ensuing interaction, many participants expressed appreciation for the initiative and underlined the need for resources and material to address the issues of values, ethics and spirituality in an interfaith setting.
 
A meeting with the local interfaith group in Porto Alegre was arranged. Representatives of around 15 different religious traditions participated in the assembly, hosting an Interfaith Space, where people could get more information about the different members of the local group and about local interfaith initiatives. Information was shared about the GNRC and the Interfaith Council and the local interfaith group affirmed the need for resources and material to enhance the interfaith learning with and by children.