Aptly set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – a city of socio-economic contrasts – from 21 August to
01 September 2023, the 6th edition of the Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and
Management for an Economy of Life (GEM School 2023) gathered 24 participants to
collectively re-think economics for a more equitable and sustainable planet. For the second
time the World Methodist Council represented by Geneva Secretary Bishop Rosemarie
Wenner was amongst the organizers.
Participants came from more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin
America, Middle East, North America and the Pacific and included church leaders, pastors,
theological students, as well as finance experts and economic justice advocates and eco-
activists with a view to promoting intergenerational and multidisciplinary dialogue and
learning. Four of are members of Methodist churches.
The ten-day programme explored the intersections between faith and economic justice
through bible studies, equipped participants with basic economics training and advocacy
tools, as well as discussed alternative economic thinking and policy recommendations.
“GEM School reflected on the interrelated issues of gaping socio-economic inequalities as
well as the pressing question of sustainability. Among others, the lectures and discussions
focused on the roots of inequality, the complex relationship between economics and the
environment, and how new economic visions, indicators, policies and economic governance
structures are urgently needed and essential for co-building a more just and sustainable
planet,” said Athena Peralta, WCC Program Executive for Economic and Ecological Justice.
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner stated: “GEM School is a unique learning opportunity for
Methodists to discern how the Christian faith directs our actions in economy and finances,
so that all humans can life in dignity within the planetary boundaries. The intersectional
approach helps to discern systemic change and the emphasis on practical steps encourages
to bring faith into action.”
At the end of the programme, participants, building on their exchanges and learnings over
nearly two weeks, presented a range of project proposals. Here are three examples: Rev
Karthik Sibanayam shared a plan for theological seminaries in Malaysia to reflect on issues
of economic justice as part of the curriculum. Ampri Samosir, Patricia Mungcal, Rev Chi-Kang
Chiang and Rev Vavauni Ljalgajean presented a joint idea focusing on network building,
mutual learning and advocacy on the intersections between climate and economic justice in
Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan. Bruno Reikdal Lima shared a proposal for a
communications project to overcome negative perceptions about tax, link tax justice to
people’s daily lives, and deepen the Zacchaeus Tax campaign for global tax justice in Brazil,
one of the most unequal countries in the world.
GEM School was hosted by the Council of Churches of Malaysia and convened by the World
Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Lutheran World Federation,
World Methodist Council and Council for World Mission as part of the New International
Financial and Economic Architecture or NIFEA initiative.