WCC general secretary reflects on 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall
Twenty-five years ago, on 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell.
Twenty-five years ago, on 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. This came about through a “movement of many people who demonstrated peacefully in the streets,” said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.
“This vision and this movement for just peace and an economy dedicated to life is today more urgent than ever—especially wherever walls, fences and deep trenches of hostility divide peoples, such as at the border between North and South Korea, in the occupied territories of Palestine or on the Island of Cyprus, in Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Tveit continued.
Tveit’s reflections were part of his message to the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), which opened on 9 November with a worship service in the Church of the Holy Cross (Kreuzkirche) in Dresden. Tveit recalled it was in the Church of the Holy Cross that “during the months, weeks and days that preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall, prayers for peace had been conducted. It was also in the Kreuzkirche, in 1988, that the ecumenical assembly of the conciliar process for “Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation” took place. That assembly gave forceful impetus to the peaceful revolution. It inspired the many people who went into the streets and demonstrated.”
“A quarter century later, we need a new movement that takes its roots in the cross, a symbol of God’s peace and God’s justice that we hold in common,” Tveit said. He shared the call from the WCC 10th Assembly in 2013, inviting people of good will to join in the “pilgrimage of justice and peace”.
Tveit also mentioned in his message the significant role of young people in social change. He said, “We see young people inspired by the vision of life with justice and peace. They are answering the call to join the pilgrimage as a movement of common prayer and common action.”
Tveit also praised the many actions by churches, who he said are preparing for public acts of witness on “pilgrimages of climate justice” leading up to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change next year in Paris. “The wall of resistance to change continues to be strong and high. But this wall, too, can fall,” Tveit said.
Tveit also reflected on the role of communications as a means of empowering churches in their quest for justice and peace. Digital communication is a major agenda for this year’s EKD Synod. “Communication about and for the pilgrimage means network communication such as made possible by digital media—intensive sharing of experiences and mutual encouragement of all those who, together, are on the path of justice and peace in their respective contexts,” Tveit said.