World Council of Churches Office of Communication|
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WCC and CEC express solidarity with churches in Yugoslavia
cf. WCC Press Update, 99-17, of 27 May 1999
cf. WCC Press Update, 99-20, of 24 June 1999
In a pastoral letter sent today to the leaders of member churches in Yugoslavia, the general secretaries of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) expressed "their sense of solidarity and fraternal encouragement" following the dramatic events in the country over the last several days and weeks.
In the letter, addressed to H.H. Pavle, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop JŠn Valent of the Slovak Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Yugoslavia, Bishop IstvŠn Csete-Szemesi of the Christian Church in FRY, and Superintendent D. Martin Hovan of the Evangelical.Methodist Church in Yugoslavia, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser and CEC general secretary Rev. Dr Keith Clements expressed the hope that "the leadership of the churches in Yugoslavia will be given the strength and courage to guide and accompany the process of change, and thus contribute to the building of a lasting order of peace and justice in this long-suffering region".
The WCC through its humanitarian aid coordination office Action by Churches Together (ACT) is continuing to fulfill the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons and to support reconstruction in Yugoslavia.
The full text of the WCC-CEC letter follows:
"The World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches express their sense of solidarity and fraternal encouragement for the churches and people of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at this critical time.
Churches around the world have been following with concern and emotion the unfolding events in Yugoslavia in the last days and weeks. It is with a sense of great respect that all have watched the efforts of the newly elected democratic leadership in the country to assume responsibilities and seek to ensure a political and negotiated transition, which respects the will of people and democratic principles.
We assure you of our thoughts and prayers at this time when the people of Yugoslavia are confronted with such important choices for the future. May our Risen Lord bless and guide all those who seek to contribute wisdom, discernment and truth to the solution of the political crisis in your country. We pray that the leadership of the churches in Yugoslavia will be given the strength and courage to guide and accompany the process of change, and thus contribute to the building of a lasting order of peace and justice in this long-suffering region.
For many years, the WCC and CEC have worked alongside the member churches in Serbia and Montenegro to manifest Christian solidarity in times of need, to communicate the voice of churches there to the broader world, and to assist them in responding to the most important social and humanitarian needs in the communities.
We stand prepared to work ever more closely with your churches, and seek ways together with you for a more effective response to the situation and needs of people.
To this end we hope to have an early opportunity of meeting with you and other leaders of the Yugoslav churches in order to determine how the wider ecumenical community might be of assistance."
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.