Ecumenical Institute graduate ready to become 'faithful ambassador of God'

(Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC)Graduation of the Master's program in Ecumenical Theology at World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, in Switzerland on June 11, 2024.

Rev. Ishaya Anthony's work has begun after a long study stint.

A few days after graduating from the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Institute at Bossey with a Master of Advanced Studies in Ecumenical Studies, Ishaya Anthony will return to Africa, where he belongs to two communities.

On June 11, he graduated from the Master's program in Ecumenical Theology at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey near Geneva, Switzerland.

"The first community is Nigeria, from the northern part of Nigeria, precisely from Kaduna state," says Anthony, who is part of the Anglican communion and a priest with the Church of Nigeria.

His second community is South Africa, where he is a postdoctoral research fellow.

His church and the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at the University of Western Cape in South Africa recommended him for Bossey.

At first, it's difficult for Anthony to find the words to describe his experience at the institute ringed by mountains and overlooking Lake Geneva, the largest freshwater lake in Europe,

"I like to say that Bossey is better experienced than explained," he said, referring to Bossey, which the Jura Mountains in France overlook.

Anthony's already planning to take his experience back home to Africa.

"In the context where I come from, especially Nigeria, we have a lot of people who are working for peaceful and social cohesion," he said. "I will collaborate with many people on the ground to contribute to inter-religious dialogue."

As he hopes and trusts God in how he will contribute, he is also considering reviving a journal by the Ecumenical Theologians in Nigeria titled "Ballentine of Ecumenical Theology." The last edition was in April 1990.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, with nearly 229 million people.


He will also return to South Africa to continue his postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

"There is a need for students to have this ecumenical formation," he said. "It's good to get a theological perspective, both the theoretical and practical."

Ecumenism is familiar to the African continent, reflected Anthony. "It has been there even before Christianity came to Africa," he said. "It's a matter of reimagining ecumenists, and I think it's important to learn from the past history."

Though he plans to stay in touch with his graduating class, he will miss the quiet natural beauty surrounding Bossey. "Bossey offers the ability to be quiet and walk around the forest," he said.

"I will also miss the library because it's a unique place to learn about ecumenism—and even beyond ecumenism."

He will miss the way his peers talk and laugh together.

"Also, my professors are very wonderful people," he said. "I give thanks to God for the privilege that someone like me can pass through this place," said Anthony

He recalls World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Jerry Pillay urging the students to become faithful ambassadors as they return home.

"So much has been invested in me that I pray God will enable me to be a faithful ambassador," said Anthony. "I also pray for God's direction in all that I do."

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