Enriching impulses and discussions

Exchange and joint work in workshops were the focus of the first day of the Mission 21 Synod. On the topic of "Vulnerability", professor of feminist theology Isabel Phiri analysed the effects of the pandemic worldwide. In the morning, four different perspectives from four continents gave impulses on aspects of vulnerability and healing.

The pandemic has exacerbated social contrasts worldwide, notes theology professor Isabel Apawo Phiri in her presentation on Friday afternoon. Covid-19 had led to an increase in domestic violence and especially disadvantaged people were even more threatened in their existence than before.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) in particular is committed to addressing the consequences of the pandemic. Isabel Phiri explains how the WCC has refocused its work internationally to engage the global churches to address the challenges the pandemic poses to health, social situation and pastoral care. Isabel Phiri hopes that the challenge of the pandemic will awaken a willingness for real social change and engagement. The Synod thanked her committed presentation with prolonged applause.

Perspectives of women and youth
Already in the morning, the Synod dealt with different aspects of vulnerability and healing. Impulses from four perspectives were introduced and dealt with, which came from the current work of Mission 21.

From Asia, Vistamika Wangka, head of the emergency shelter for women in Hong Kong, brought the perspective of women who suffer violence. Especially for women who have experienced suffering in their vulnerability, a safe place provides the crucial framework to experience healing. The emergency shelter for homeless migrant domestic workers offers them the opportunity to leave existential fear behind and begin the process of healing and empowerment by living together with fellow sufferers.

Healing and empowerment are experienced by young people who have suffered war-related violence through trauma processing; Blessing Fomuso spoke about this in her presentation focusing on the perspective of youth. She explained that vulnerability is the prerequisite for working through trauma. Experiencing and dealing with pain can be a strength.

Theology and Medicine - Perspectives on Healing
For Ruth Vindas Benavides, a pastor from Costa Rica, the current state of the world gives an unvarnished view of vulnerability as human beings. In the face of such great destruction and poor living that we have committed as humanity, change is urgently needed, she said. In theology too, he said, it is necessary to learn to use all our five senses to get a grip on our lives again, to leave our stupidity behind and to realise that we have made mistakes - insight from suffering.

In the fourth presentation, Pastor Astrid Fiehland van der Vegt from Davos also expressed the hope that insight can come from pain. Especially in Switzerland, we have insurance against almost everything, not only against illness and disability. Astrid Fiehland explained that despite all the insurance we have to admit that in life we are not spared pain, loss, failure, illness and death, and she also saw this as an opportunity.

Enriching group discussions
In the workshop work with these keynote speeches, delegates were also particularly engaged in the question of how we as Mission 21 can contribute to a more just world. Answers were: Churches must perceive people holistically, and it is important to strengthen empathy and solidarity, because only then can vulnerability be accepted. Genuine comfort requires that the pain of the other person is seen and acknowledged. And at the political level, the vulnerability of disadvantaged population groups must be addressed so that their needs are taken into account in political decisions.
The presentations brought together numerous encouraging statements that flow into the work of Mission 21.