Young adult shares story of stay and study at Bossey ecumenical institute

By Ericka Jallah

It was a wonderful experience for me starting from my first day of arrival at Bossey. Many thanks to members of The United Methodist Church, Council of Bishops (COB) and everyone who contributed immensely towards my study at Bossey. On behalf of my family and myself, we say may the good Lord bless you for giving me the opportunity to be impacted.
Study life at Bossey Switzerland was a wonderful experience for me. Meeting students from different parts of the world, churches and traditions has opened my understanding about God, and how unique He is in His ways.
Ecumenical Institute of Bossey has exposed me to many things, especially the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany. I was privileged to participate in the Assembly and the Global Ecumenical Training Institute (GETI). I met many people that enabled me to share with them some theological issues that are unfolding in my church. It was an excitement to be a part of the opening and closing sessions of the Assembly.
In addition, six months of living an ecumenical life was a blessing to me. From my studies, I have come to understand that as Christians we are one, despite our different identity, where we come from, or tradition. We all share in one baptism and believe in the Trinitarian God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, my worship experience at Ecumenical Institute Bossey is full of impartation and unforgettable encounters. I was privileged to participate in the liturgies of all denominations. This sharing has helped me to shape my thinking about many denominations. I have learned to accept people and their ways of life. Though I may not accept some beliefs or practices, I respect their decisions for the sake of unity of God’s kingdom and not being judgmental.
The Ecumenical Institute of Bossey is an ecumenical library and living in it is an ecumenical world. At the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, we lived, ate, walked, and talked in ecumenism. This has summed up my ecumenical life and I am very grateful for this privilege.
My study program also included visitation to different churches, places and other ecumenical monasteries especially like Taizé, Grandchamp, etc. On my arrival at Taizé, I was overwhelmed seeing people from different countries, colors, tribes, and denominations coming together to worship God in one accord. Seeing this, I was moved to open my heart and mind to expect from God in a different. Even though our visit to Taizé was limited, I want to believe in the power of prayer.
Talking about my experience and the impact of my study visit to Taizé, the warm welcome greetings we received from the brothers in Taizé is more than what I can explain. Starting from the welcoming session, those brothers were awesome, because they gave us room for explanations, and we were able to ask some of the difficult questions that has been bothering us without any fear or inferiority. I got inspired by the works of the brothers, in sense that they are producing many things to be used by the community and the world at large. I saw how hard they work collectively in order to be successful as a team. This is a direct definition of ecumenism, because they are Christians from different parts of the world coming together as one to give their services to the people of God.
I found Taizé songs very interesting and inspiring. We were always eager to chant the songs together regardless of who was beside us, and how many times we chanted the songs, because of the melody and spirituality. Furthermore, sharing in the Lord’s Supper together B
The prayer life in Taizé is very unique and different from my usual method of prayer. The silent prayer session really helped me to meditate and listen to the voice of my heart. For the first time in my life, I have kept silent for ten minutes and reflected on God deep down from my heart and listened to what he has to say to me.  It brought so much sorrow to my heart that I broke down in tears. And it helped me to even want to do it even more. That piece of Taizé I will always remember.
In addition to this, my assigned small group was a unique one. Being in a group with different Christians and experience people of different professions was a nice one. There were people who have had more worship experience when it comes to Taize, meaning, some of them had being there for more than a week and they were eager to listen to our sharing. There was no discrimination regardless of who you are and where you come from. We were given a time to talk more about ourselves and our Bossey community. Our group was so interesting to the point that we needed more time to be together.
I had a wonderful experience, and now I wish to spend more time studying ecumenism, because I believe that this is the fundamental root of Christianity.  This first step has served as an eye- opener and a motivation to dig more on ecumenism.
Lastly, meeting new friends and making good connections is a part of capacity building. I had so much fun with my program, I enjoyed myself, and I am so blessed to have been a part of this program. I believe every piece of knowledge and orientation I achieved from this study program will remove some limits for me.  I will try my best to become a great ecumenist who will be a blessing for our great church and Liberia at large.
I pray the Almighty God will continue to move His church forward and make us relevant for His glory. Amen.