World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
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16 October 2001

President of Germany, Dr Johannes Rau, to visit the World Council of Churches

The president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Johannes Rau, will visit the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 17 October, at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The Ecumenical Centre houses the headquarters of the WCC and several other international church bodies.

After a short private conversation with the WCC's general secretary, Dr Konrad Raiser, President Rau will have a round-table discussion with the general secretaries of three other organizations: Dr Keith Clements of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), Dr Ishmael Noko of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Dr Setri Nyomi of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). The discussion will focus on interreligious and interconfessional dialogue and on the role of religion in politics.

The programme will also include a meeting with the staff of the Ecumenical Centre.

President Rau met representatives of the world-wide ecumenical movement earlier this year when he addressed the WCC Central Committee at its meeting in Potsdam, Germany, from 29 January to 6 February. In his address to the WCC governing body, the German president took up the question of a just international economic order, one of the main themes on the Central Committee's agenda.

"The president's visit to the World Council of Churches is a welcome opportunity for us to continue the discussion we started in Potsdam," the WCC general secretary said. "President Rau made it unequivocally clear in his speech then that churches and religious institutions have an important role to play in accompanying the political decision-making process." The visit of the German head of state also has symbolic importance for the world-wide ecumenical movement, Raiser noted.

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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.