A new body has been established by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to promote the participation of youth in the organizations life and work.
The WCC's 9th Assembly, which involved more young people than any previous assembly, decided to create the "youth body" as a means to promote the development of ecumenical leadership and a more direct participation of young people (aged between 18 and 30 years) in the decision-making and programmatic work of the council.
Speaking immediately after the decision, the newly-appointed moderator of the youth body, Ms Outi Vasko of the Orthodox Church of Finland expressed her enthusiasm. "What will be important with this new body is not only to focus on representation, but to enhance the contribution that young people can make in the WCC, in key areas facing the churches and the ecumenical movement," Vasko said.
The new youth body is designed to "broaden and strengthen" the fellowship in the ecumenical movement by ensuring the "sustainable and active" involvement of young adults in all levels of the WCC by developing their leadership skills and advocating their broader participation in the council.
Three primary objectives of the new youth body were agreed in the proposals: consultation and mutual accountability with the WCC; networking with the wider ecumenical movement; and strengthening ecumenical leadership skills of young ecumenical and church leaders. The body is also expected to assist churches in enabling the involvement of young people in their own decision-making.
A set of proposals for the youth body were worked out in the period following the assembly by youth representatives from the WCC governing bodies and related youth movements.
The body, whose name will be decided in the coming months, will consist of 25 young adults from among the governing and advisory bodies of the WCC, and active youth leaders nominated by churches and ecumenical organizations from around the world.
Young people from a broader constituency than the WCC's membership are also to be represented.