27 February 2024, Geneva, Switzerland: Outgoing Ecumenical Institute dean and World Council of Churches staff Simone Sinn pictured in the Ecumenical Centre chapel.


"Studying at the Irish School of Ecumenics made me aware that we have ecumenism to build bridges, and the work in Geneva helped me put it into practice," said Sinn, while on her way to take up a teaching position in religious studies and intercultural theology in Muenster after leaving her post at the WCC.

Sinn spent the years from 2013 to 2018 as study secretary for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations at the LWF. Then she went on to a six-year stint as professor of Ecumenical Theology at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, working also with the WCC's Faith and Order Commission from 2018-2024.

Engaging in collaborative discernment 

"I enjoyed engaging deeply with students and colleagues from diverse contexts and backgrounds. I think if we are really committed to doing ecumenical theology in a global horizon, we cannot privilege one theological narrative," said Sinn.

"But we have to set a table for different narratives to enter. I want to convey to my students in Muenster that studying theology and religious studies means learning not just one theological narrative but relating to different narratives and being able to discern together," Sinn said.

During her time as dean at the WCC Ecumenical Institute at Bossey she initiated a new online course, and coordinated relationships with the theological faculty at the University of Geneva. 

Sinn added: ”As programme executive for the WCC Commission on Faith and Order I enjoyed working with the study group on moral discernment which developed a pioneering document on engaging with disagreements. Serving as managing editor of the WCC’s interreligious journal Current Dialogue resonated well with my expertise in interfaith relations.” 

Initially, she studied Protestant theology in Bethel, Heidelberg, and Tübingen, including studies in Diakonia in Heidelberg, and later completed the Master's programme in Ecumenical Studies in Dublin. She trained for pastoral ministry and was ordained. 

In high school, before studying theology, Sinn was committed to youth work in the church, where doing something for global justice was close to her heart. She started to be a volunteer with the fair trade shop. 

Embodied ecumenism

"After my studies, I did an internship in Indonesia. And this was, for me, a life-transforming experience. I was working with an interfaith nongovernmental organization that pioneered interfaith dialogue at the grassroots level. And for me, this opened a whole new world," said the Muenster professor.

She saw many questions in a new light. Indonesia was a different cultural context with a lot more diversity. Indonesia is the biggest Muslim-majority country in the world, but it also has a solid Christian population, as well as other faith traditions among its 275 million people.

Sinn said, "Ecumenism pushes us to do better theology and ask questions about theological traditions that we have inherited and cherish. 

"It is an exciting intellectual challenge to do theology in a global ecumenical and interreligious horizon."

For her, "The Ecumenical Institute at Bossey is a unique place because it combines academic work in ecumenical studies and interreligious studies with the residential part of living, working, studying, and praying together. I would say it is embodied ecumenism."

Learn more about the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey