World Council of Churches Office of Communication
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7 May 2001

Decade to Overcome Violence:
Churches bring own perspectives to national and regional launches

The international launch of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) took place on 4 February 2001 in Berlin, Germany, during the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Central Committee meeting.

The WCC's 1998 assembly in Zimbabwe had called on all people of goodwill to work together to overcome violence, and the Council's member churches had committed themselves to a pilgrimage of peace.

In response to this call, and in light of realities in different regions throughout the world, churches are launching the DOV from their own perspectives and contexts. Since February, launches have taken place in several countries and regions, and preparations are going ahead in other places.

For instance, US churches held a national launch on 23-24 April in Nashville, Tennessee. And in Germany, the city of Braunschweig -- a Peace to the City Network partner -- programmed "their" DOV launch for 19 May 2001.

In Bern, Switzerland, 30 participants attended a consultation on the Decade organised by the Swiss Protestant Church. Via biblical reflections on violence, the 26 April consultation attempted to determine the role of the Swiss churches in the DOV process. It challenged the churches to come up with concrete strategies to overcome violence. Two major concerns were raised: violence against women, and violence against children. Participants noted with concern the lack of participation by the younger generation and agreed to try to integrate youth into work on the Decade. The Swiss DOV launch is planned for later this year.

In Africa, the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) is launching the Decade on 3 June 2001. That date coincides with a peace forum scheduled for May 31-June 2, designed to help churches search for effective strategies against violence in this sub-region.

Meanwhile, the Fellowship of Christian Council of Churches in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) launched the Decade on 24 March 2001. The ceremony in Kampala, Uganda was opened by the Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda, Leticia Mary Mukasa Kikonyongo, and about 800 people attended.

After decades of rampant conflict and war coupled with chronic drought, among other horrendous misfortunes, this region is in desperate need of peace and justice, equality, stability and good governance. With hundreds of thousands of children and women -- the most victimised sector of the population -- living in dehumanising circumstances, there is need to constructively redress the situation. Conflicts that arise because of negative ethnic assertiveness and the struggle over scarce basic resources, such as land and water, must be resolved.

The FECCLAHA launch coincided with a two-day (22-23 March) meeting in Kampala of the Global Ecumenical Forum on "Overcoming Violence: A Challenge to the Churches", organised by FECCLAHA. This meeting agreed to focus on the plight of the Sudanese people and the devastating war that has displaced people, separated families and forced young people into slavery and the army in Southern Sudan.

Religious fundamentalism on the one hand, and economic exploitation on the other, were identified as key factors perpetuating war in the region. "Africa's poverty and misery are not due to the fact that we are poor, but rather to the fact that the continent is being looted and impoverished from inside and outside," said Peter Kanyandago, vice chancellor of the Catholic University in Uganda. Other issues of concern identified were small arms trafficking, debt cancellation, child soldiers and HIV/AIDS.

For information concerning the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), consult the DOV website:

For further information, please contact Diana Mavunduse, DOV communicator, Tel: (+41.22) 791.67.01, E-mail: WCC Contact

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 342, 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.