Saturday, June 16, 2007

Churches will Gather to Launch a New Middle East Advocacy Forum

World Council of Churches - News Release

June 12, 2007

Churches to Gather for International Conference on Middle East Peace,
Launch of New Advocacy Forum

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is convening an international conference called "Churches together for Peace with Justice in the Middle East" in Jordan, 17-21 June. The event will address prospects for peace in Israel and Palestine and launch a new church advocacy forum.

At the meeting in Amman, Jordan, Middle Eastern church leaders will lay out their expectations for a just peace and their experiences of conflict, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Speakers will include the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and All Palestine Theophilos III, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and other Middle Eastern church leaders.

The WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia will attend and open the conference. Some 130 participants from WCC member churches and related organizations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas will take part.

After listening to the Middle Eastern experience, churches from other regions will share lessons learned during deeply rooted conflicts in their countries, including South Africa, Sudan, Colombia and Sri Lanka. The emphasis will be on the churches' role in peace-making and in sustaining peace when conflicts end.

The meeting will conclude with the launch of an international, inter-church advocacy initiative, the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum. The forum will enable churches around the world to cooperate more closely in advocacy for peace with justice in the Middle East, coordinating existing church advocacy work and promoting new joint efforts for peace. The initiative was approved by the WCC central committee in September last year. Two preparatory meeting have been held.

Holding the conference in Jordan allows a global church initiative with a Middle East focus to begin in close contact with the churches of the region.

The meeting takes place during a month when churches and related organizations around the world have been marking 40 years of Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

Although their roots in the region go back to biblical times, WCC member churches in the Middle East increasingly link the future of Christian communities there to a just and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Concern within sister churches world-wide has also increased in the 59 years since member churches first put Arab-Israeli peace on the public policy agenda of the WCC in 1948.

See also our press release of 5 September 2006 on the WCC Central Committee decision approving the creation of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

The WCC and Palestine-Israel

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 347 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.


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