From Agape to Basileia: WSCF Launches “Empire” Project
14 February 2006
PORTO ALEGRE: On the eve of the 9th World Council of Churches General Assembly, The World Student Christian Federation has launched an ambitious global project focusing on the intersection of political and economic power in a globalized world.
“Empire and Basilea,” a seven day workshop to be held August 2-8 in Nairobi, Kenya will bring together WSCF students from across the globe to discuss the effects of centralized political and economic power on the lives of people without access or influence to such power, and whether or not such a phenomenon can be described as a contemporary form of imperialism. Throughout 2006, WSCF member movements will focus their analysis and advocacy on the issue of empire.
“As amorphous as it may seem, Empire is an important concept for people of faith to reflect upon,” said WSCF General Secretary Michael Wallace. “As the ecumenical movement representing students from all over the world concerned with the Gospel call for social justice, we think it is essential to explore how everything from our dominant economic models to the language we use in our churches contributes to systems that prevent all of us-particularly the most vulnerable in our society-from experiencing life in all its fullness.”
Basilea, the Greek for “Kingdom,” evokes the vision of Jesus for a radical community of hope and provides a possible alternative to the prevailing neo-liberal economic model .
“In the language of the early Christians, Basilea was the church’s ultimate dream and its most crucial hope,” said Georgine Kengne Djeutane, the WSCF Regional Secretary for Africa, whose office will host the event. “Even today, when Christians speak about the Kingdom of Heaven or the Beloved Community, they are describing the hope for a life in which our primary needs are not commoditized and in which our well-being is not determined by the whims of governments or corporations.
In planning meetings preceding the WCC Assembly, the WSCF Executive Committee affirmed the WCC’s AGAPE (Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth) document, a background paper proposing an alternative, justice-driven model of globalization .
“In the Christian tradition, agape is about selfless love for one’s neighbor,” said Wallace. “The question for many Christians is whether our current model of globalization runs counter to our commitment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This focus will give students the space to ask these pressing questions and help develop the skills to start building the alternative to empire – the Christian Basilea.”
Participants in the August conference will have the opportunity to present papers, visit poverty eradication projects in Kenya, and engage in dialogue with other students from Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe on the ethical and economic consequences of empire in the 21st Century.