I Who we are

1. We are Oikotree, an ecumenical movement initiated by the Council for World Mission (CWM), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and the World Council Churches (WCC), which seeks to live faithfully amidst empire,1 which has provoked unprecedented economic and ecological crises in recent times. Oikotree aims to promote life-sustaining alternatives to the prevailing death-dealing systems. The name is derived from the Tree of Life in Revelation 22, “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”, and the spiritual traditions of many indigenous peoples and faith traditions.

2. We come together as local churches, congregations, individuals, communities of faith, national and regional ecumenical organizations, networks and social/people’s movements. We have joined hands in solidarity to build platforms of dialogue, critical reflection and activism for justice in the economy and the earth. Our strengths are drawn from our unwavering commitment to a vision of life in fullness for all, the deep wells of our faiths and spiritualities, and the diversity and multiplicity of entry points of our movements.

3. We reaffirm our core values as follows:

  • Rejecting neoliberal corporate globalization, patriarchy and empire;

  • Advocating for economic and ecological justice;

  • Overcoming all forms of injustice and discrimination based on gender, class, race/caste, religion, culture, location, differing abilities, age, and sexual orientation;

  • Accompanying peoples’ struggles to overcome economic and ecological injustice.

  • Promoting synergies that bring about alternative life-enhancing economies based on justice and peace, cooperation and solidarity;

  • Engaging in a spirituality of resistance and transformation;

  • Building life-sustaining justice-affirming communities that embrace creation and humanity; and

  • Living faithfully through engaging in the struggle for justice in the economy and earth;

4. In Arnoldshain, Germany from 31 October to 4 November 2010, we have gathered in a Global Forum convened by the CWM, WCRC, and WCC to:

  • Share, explore and further deepen the engagement of local churches, congregations, individuals, communities of faith, national and regional ecumenical organizations, networks and social/people’s movements in working for justice in the economy and the earth;

  • Identify areas of convergence, build synergies and link global, regional and local agendas; and

  • Develop a vision of common commitment of the movement at all levels.

II. Resisting life-destroying civilisation and building life-enhancing communities, cultures and

systems

5. The overarching theme for Oikotree is “resisting life-destroying civilisation2 and building life-enhancing communities, cultures and systems”. Oikotree reaffirms its conviction, commitment and responsibility for advancing economic and ecological justice rooted in the Accra Confession3 and Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and the Earth (AGAPE)4. This calls for critical actions that enable the following:

  • Decolonising our own minds and hearts from ego-centrism to rainbow ways of thinking and living;

  • Supporting each other in our local, national and global struggles in reclaiming, defending and expanding the global commons as well as in other struggles for justice ;

  • Prophetically challenging faith communities, in particular churches and ecumenical movements, to keep justice at the heart of faith; and

  • Naming, confronting and overcoming institutions and systems of empire including our complicity through critical study and action.

III. Key directions

6. We discern the following key directions as crucial to nurturing life-enhancing communities, cultures and systems:

  • Building alliances based on a common commitment to address the roots of injustice: recognising Oikotree’s groundings in people’s struggles for justice in the economy and the earth, Oikotree invites and welcomes faith and non-faith-based communities, social and people’s movements of similar convictions;

  • Unmasking and deconstructing theologies that legitimize various forms of hegemony and domination of peoples and the earth by re-claiming, re-imagining and constructing emancipatory oiko/cosmo theologies;

  • Overcoming patriarchal/imperial thinking and theologies by drawing from feminist/womanist/mujerista5 perspectives to inform transformative, sustainable, caring and just relationships;

  • Connecting people’s analyses, stories and survival strategies in enabling transformative actions.

  • Rejecting unjust and ecologically-destructive economies by the development of creative, viable alternatives especially those informed by indigenous spiritualities and practices and feminist/womanist/mujerista perspectives.

IV. Methodologies and strategies of resistance and transformation

7. As part of our methodologies and strategies for resistance and transformation, we commit to:

  • Learning from each other through the sharing and exchange of stories, experiences and analyses through a more interactive website, e-newsletters, participatory videos, documentaries, traditional communication tools as well as through fact-finding missions, immersion programmes and exposure visits;

  • Deepening our relationships and fostering a flourishing movement by supporting each other’s struggles, including through media and legal support, sharing resources, convening global forums and conducting leadership training and capacity-building programmes;

  • Strengthening our capacity for theological education, formation and training rooted in critical consciousness and social analysis;

  • Facilitating solidarity actions, including advocacy and campaigns among local, national and global movements.

  • Ensuring that gender and race concerns and the particular consequences for women, children and vulnerable communities are addressed,

  • Identifying emerging spaces for influencing the programme thrusts of global ecumenical movements and people’s movements, e.g. solidarity economy.

V. Common action

8. We identify the following critical issues for global common actions:

    • Continuing critique of empire and capitalism;

    • Addressing financial, social and ecological debt and promotion of climate justice;

    • Hearing and lifting up the stories, struggles and pain of those who bear the brunt of the death dealing economic and ecological injustices;

    • Organising resistance against resource extraction that violates human rights and destroys eco-systems;

    • Challenging unlimited growth, poverty, wealth and power, by establishing the greed line, as well as promoting economies of enough;

    • Campaigning for fully accountable corporate social responsibility of transnational corporations, and where that fails, campaigning against the corporation; and

    • Strengthening campaigns against militarization, war and armed conflicts.

VI. Action Plan – 2011 to 2014

9. Based on all of the foregoing, we propose the following strategic action plan for the next three years:

A. Oikotree Gatherings

    1. Oikotree Workshop at International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (Kingston, Jamaica, 17-25 May 2011)
    2. Oikotree Global Forum to be held in conjunction with the WCC-sponsored Poverty, Wealth and Ecology Global Conference (Shanghai, China, March 2012)
    3. Oikotree Madang at the WCC 10th General Assembly (Busan, Korea 2-13 October 2013)
    4. Oikotree Workshop in the World Social Forum (2011 and 2013)

B. Working Groups

    1. Working group on communicating what Oikotree is about (including website)
    2. Working group on research and analysis
    3. Working group on socio-theological analysis and critical thinking
    4. Working group on advocacy, campaigns and project coordination

C. Life-Enhancing Theological Studies and Training

In accordance with the theme, new directions and commitments stated above, Oikotree will initiate a programme of Life-Enhancing Theological Studies and Training, which should encompass both theological reflection and the practice of life-enhancing theologies in an inter-disciplinary way.

    1. Studies on Life-Enhancing Theologies (which was initiated in Changseong, Korea in 2007 and is continuing as an ongoing study process);
    2. Roving faculty on life-enhancing theologies aimed at building capacity for theological education, formation and training rooted in critical consciousness and social analysis;
    3. Oikotree theology summer schools (organized regionally every year and globally in the longer term)

VII. Conclusion

We celebrate our diversity and common commitment to act for peace with justice. This calls forth a revolutionary spirit that empowers action beyond ourselves. Our common commitment to action is an invitation and call to the ecumenical movement, local churches, congregations, individuals, communities of faith, national and regional ecumenical organizations, networks and social/people’s movements to nurture and to be nurtured by the tree of life, the leaves and fruits of which are for the healing of all people and the earth.

1 We speak of empire, because we discern a coming together of economic, cultural, political and military power in our world today. This is constituted by a reality and a spirit of lordless domination, created by humankind. An all-encompassing global reality serving, protecting and defending the interests of powerful corporations, nations, elites and privileged people, while exploiting creation, imperiously excludes, enslaves, and even sacrifices humanity. It is a pervasive spirit of destructive self-interest, even greed – the worship of money, goods and possessions; the gospel of consumerism, proclaimed through powerful propaganda and religiously justified, believed and followed. It is the colonization of consciousness, values and notions of human life by the imperial logic; a spirit lacking compassionate justice and showing contemptuous disregard for the gifts of creation and the household of life. (Definition of empire from Globalisation Project – Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa and the Evangelical Reformed Church of Germany)

2 Civilization is a controversial term and has a various meanings and connotations. Postmodernists argue that the division of societies into “civilized” and “uncivilized” is not only arbitrary and meaningless but also prejudiced and propelled by hegemonic thinking of those with global power. A key concern is that the concept of “civilization” has been the justification for colonialism, imperialism, genocide, and coercive acculturation.

3 The Accra Confession is a faith declaration of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which rejects neoliberal economic globalization. It proclaims that the integrity of our faith is at stake if we remain silent or refuse to act in the face of economic and ecological injustices.

4 The Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth (AGAPE) is a Process of the WCC which begun in 1998. It’s main programme is the study on Poverty, Wealth and Ecology, it is exploring alternatives to neo-liberal economic globalization, which link economy and ecology in ways that promote economic justice for all.

5 These theological and ethical perspectives and liberative practices have as their goals emancipation, wholeness and fullness of life for all of God’s creation. While feminist theology arose among white women in the North Atlantic, these terms are used in many locations globally. Womanist theology speaks from the depths of African American women’s lives and communities. Mujerista theology speaks from Latin American women’s (mujeres) communities (pueblas). Both mujerista and womanist theologies involve strong engagement with oppressed communities.