World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

31 March 1999


Geneva-based ecumenical bodies and Christian world communions have jointly appealed for a cessation of armed conflicts in Kosovo as well as in other parts of the world. "Our hearts go out to all those who are suffering the terrible consequences of the violence being inflicted on God's children," says the text of the Easter appeal which is sent to member churches today. The church bodies called upon Christians worldwide "to join their hearts and spirits in this prayer that the bombings may cease and that the guns may fall silent."

The appeal is endorsed by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), the World Methodist Council (WMC), the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), and John L. Peterson (the Anglican Communion).

Text of the Easter appeal signed by Konrad Raiser (WCC), Keith Clements (CEC), Ishmael Noko (LWF), Milan Opocensky (WARC), Joe Hale (WMC), Denton Lotz (BWA), and John L. Peterson of the Anglican Communion:

"In this season of Easter, Christians around the world share the profound pain of all those caught up in tragedies such as Kosovo. Our hearts go out to all those who are suffering the terrible consequences of the violence being inflicted on God's children in this region and in many other parts of the world. We lament the failure of imagination, collective will and human spirit made manifest in the incapacity to address the causes of conflict through peaceful means. As we remember again the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the one proclaimed by the prophets as the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, our hearts are heavy for we recognize that we have not yet been able to overcome our inclination to turn to the sword in moments of doubt and fear.

Kosovo is but one of the many conflicts around the world today where people take up arms against one another out of fear, hate, greed or hopelessness. Many of these wars are largely hidden from the view of the wider world, and some of them have claimed an even more terrible toll than is now being inflicted in the Balkans. So we pray this Easter for all of those in Yugoslavia and elsewhere whose lives are shattered by war.

Leaders of Christian churches in both East and West, and leaders of other religious faiths have appealed in recent days for a cessation of such acts of violence and for the settlement of conflict by negotiation. Regrettably, such voices have not yet been heard over the clamour of charges and countercharges, and the roar of bombs, landmines and guns.

One of these leaders, His All Holiness The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, has summarized many of these sentiments in his appeal of 29 March 1999, saying,

'in the name of God who loves humankind, in the name of the human race, in the name of civilization, at this season of the religious feast of the Muslims, the Easter of Roman Catholics and Protestants, the Passover of the Jews and the Pascha of the Orthodox, on bended knees (I) fervently appeal from the tormented depths of my heart to all world government leaders, to military commanders and to those who bear arms throughout the world, that they cease fire immediately and permanently. We beseech them to use mutual understanding and mutual concession to resolve peacefully their regional, international and worldwide disputes, in order that the God of peace and mercy might bless them and all people.'

In this same spirit, we appeal to Christians around the world in these high holy days to join their hearts and spirits in this prayer that the bombings may cease and that the guns may fall silent. May the Spirit descend among us and inspire in us the courage to sacrifice our individual wills in order that the peace of the Risen Christ may prevail."

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6152 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.