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

April 1999


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

In many places around the world people are preparing for the start of a new millennium; some are apprehensive, others full of hope. For us Christians the beginning of the new millennium marks the 2000th anniversary of the year of our Lord Jesus Christ and we must prepare joyfully for the celebrations. "Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10) - the angelís words are fitting for this special birthday.

And this is also the message we must give to all those who are looking towards this new millennium with feelings of uncertainty or even of fear. Apocalyptic and sectarian notions are flourishing at the present time. But it is also a time when many people are open to new ideas and eager for direction and reassurance. To those who are anxious, to those who have questions we say : this new year, too, will be a "year of the Lord":

  • a year that is given to us by the One who holds time and space in his hands and who gives us the earth and all its fruits;
  • a year for which we are accountable before God. We must heed the critical questions that people are asking and repent. It is true, we have not done enough to overcome our divisions. We have not shown forth the peace of Jesus Christ clearly enough for the world to see.
  • a "year of the Lord" also means that the God of the Bible is the one true Lord. All other authorities and powers that seek to enslave us must yield before God and, because God is Lord, nation and race, money and ideology can never have dominion over us.

Just six months ago delegates from our churches gathered in Harare for the World Councilís 8th Assembly, with the theme "Turn to God - Rejoice in Hope". In the name of our churches they re-echoed a phrase from the message of the first Assembly in Amsterdam fifty years ago, reaffirming that "We intend to stay together".

And together we shall also move forward into this new millennium, trusting in Godís Spirit, the Spirit of Pentecost. Godís Spirit will guide us and help us to understand one another better despite our different traditions and cultures. Godís Spirit will help us together to speak to the world about "Godís deeds of power" (Acts 2:11) and to tell all people of Christís promise "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Dr Agnes Abuom, Nairobi, Kenya
Rev. Kathryn Bannister, Bison, KS, United States of America
Rt Rev. Jabez L. Bryce, Suva, Fiji
H.E. Metr. Chrysostomos of Ephesus, Athens, Greece
H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Damascus, Syria
Dr Kang Moon-Kyu, Seoul, Korea
Bishop Federico J. Pagura, Rosario, Argentine
Bishop Eberhardt Renz, Stuttgart, Germany

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (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.