France: Youth advocacy for a ‘shared Earth’ and care for creation
LWF supports ‘Grand KIFF’ festival to affirm young people’s role in the church
(LWI) – As Marion Panoma followed closely the COP 26 discussions in Glasgow, Scotland, she looked back at how young people in her church, the United Protestant Church of France (EPUdF) have kept alive the climate theme through their annual youth festival, the Grand KIFF.
“It is encouraging to see the active presence of faith communities and young Christians in this public space,” reflected Panoma, EPUdF alternate coordinator for communication, referring to delegations from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and other faith-based organizations at the 2021 climate conference.
The LWF supported the 2021 Grand KIFF festival through its Member Church Projects’ funding. This year’s youth gathering was originally meant to take place in 2020, but it was delayed due to the COVID-10 pandemic.
Marion Panoma. Photo: Courtesy
Young climate activists in the church have a particularly important role to play in safeguarding a habitable planet for future generations, Panoma noted. She went on to show how the Grand KIFF advocates for care for the Earth and all creation. [Kiff is slang in French for ‘to like something’]
The theme of the 2021 summer edition of Grand KIFF was “The Earth We Share.” More than 400 young people, aged 15 – 20, participated in the event held in Albi, near Toulouse, southern France.
The theme was divided into three sub-themes: “I am,” “With Others” and “On Earth.” The young people engaged in dialogues about who they are as individuals, their place in the world, how to live with others, including those who are on the side of the road, and how to act sustainably together. The goal is to define how young people can act in the world from their respective levels and contexts, and pass on the lessons learned to those around them.
EPUdF pastor Rev. Sophie Ollier, preaching on the topic “I am.” Photo: Patrick Balas.
Ecology and solidarity are subjects that concern young people today. In a time when the climate and migration crisis is intensifying, it becomes especially important for young Christians to be informed and to be prepared to take action.
Two participants performing a skit on the Genesis story of creation. Photo: Patrick Balas
Different activities related to the theme were organized either by young people from the parishes and EPUdF’s local partners. The evening events were animated by guests from organizations such as the ecumenical Taizé community and performers like the urban artist group Divers City.
Young people during an evening concert. Photo: Patrick Balas.
Participants were a mixed group of youth from the parishes and from the Protestant scouting movement (Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs Unioniste de France) to enable young people from the same region to meet.
Young Kiffeurs during an afternoon game. Photo: Patrick Balas
The EPUdF started the Grand Kiff editions in 2009 in order to tap into the dynamic gifts and talents that young people bring to the church. In conjunction with its partners, it affirms the place of young people is at the heart of the church and offers them the opportunity to experience a meeting dedicated to them. While respecting the plurality of faith convictions, the event offers everyone the opportunity to encounter Christ, and grow in their personal faith journey, notably through reading the Bible, worshipping together, and several fun activities.
EPUdF pastors Rev. Joël Dahan (foreground) and Rev. Sophie Ollier offering evening closing prayers. Photo: Patrick Balas
By LWF/P. Mumia
The United Protestant Church of France (EPUdF) was formed in 2013, bringing together the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France and the Reformed Church of France. The Lutheran church was one of LWF’s founding member churches in 1947.
The LWF supports churches in their efforts to provide hands-on solutions to pressing needs in their congregations and wider community through a diverse range of projects including theological training, health service delivery, livelihood initiatives, and women’s and youth empowerment.