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19 May 2000

WCC Delegation Leaves for Zimbabwe

cf. WCC Press Release of 26 April 2000

A five-member World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation will arrive in Harare, Zimbabwe on 20 May for a one-week pastoral visit.

Melaku Kifle, WCC International Relations staff and a member of the delegation, says the objectives of the visit are:

  • to express solidarity with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
  • to gain a deeper understanding of the present economic and political situation
  • to discuss the churchesí plans for monitoring the forthcoming presidential elections and what the international ecumenical fellowship might do to support them
  • to discuss the proposed visit of an ecumenical pastoral team to Zimbabwe, as mentioned in the joint letter on 25 April by the general secretaries of the WCC and Lutheran World Federation.

    Kifle says the delegation will listen to and discuss these matters with the churches based on the April 14 letter by the WCC general secretary and the April 25 joint letter. He notes that the delegation wishes "to be better informed in order to provide the guidance that churches and partners around the world seek of the WCC". The delegation hopes to find out from the churches "how they want the ecumenical fellowship to accompany them".

    Zimbabwe's presidential elections have now been scheduled for 24-25 June. With only five weeks to go before they take place, the organization of monitoring may be difficult, and questions on the possibility of undertaking effective voter education or on the training, official recognition and safety of monitors need to be asked. Many civil society groups and political figures as well as church leaders have already expressed a strong desire to meet with the ecumenical delegation to discuss some of these issues.

    In addition to the churches, the delegation hopes also hopes to meet with government officials, representatives of political parties, civil society, and others.

    Members of the delegation, in addition to Mr Kifle, include Rev. Dwain Epps, coordinator of WCC International Relations. Mr NoŽl Okoth, representing the All Africa Conference of Churches, Mr Eddie Makue, from the South African Council of Churches, and Mr Add van der Meer of the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO), The Netherlands. The delegation will leave Zimbabwe on 29 May.

    For more information contact:
    the Media Relations Office
    tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
    e-mail: media
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    The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.