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

11 May 1999


cf. WCC Press Update of 15 April 1999
cf. WCC Press Update of 16 April 1999
cf. WCC Press Release of 3 May 1999

The World Council of Churches (WCC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) call on churches and Christians to join in an international day of prayer for peace and reconciliation in the Balkans on Sunday, 16 May. This call follows an ecumenical delegation's visit to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 16-18 April, which is being followed by similar visits to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Sunday, 16 May marks the beginning of the week in the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle in which churches and Christians round the world are praying for Albania, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The 16 May prayer calls on all people to pray for an end to violence in the region. Churches and communities are invited to find the forms of prayer most appropriate to their local situation.

Regional Initiatives
Churches around the world are already praying for peace in various ways. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Orthodox Church has introduced special litanies for peace in all parishes, while the Protestant churches are organising a weekly prayer service in Novi Sad. Many people throughout the country are invited to join candlelight vigils on local bridges and overpasses on 16 May to pray for peace and reconciliation. According to the organisers, bridges are symbols of unity between different communities and countries.

Some Christian groups in the USA are planning to continue these vigils weekly "until", according to the initiative Bridges of Light, "violence -- whether NATO, Serb or KLA -- in the region has stopped".

Karin Achtelstetter, WCC Media Relations Officer
  Tel: (+41.22) 791.61.53

Robin Gurney, Secretary for Communications and Information, CEC
  Tel: (+41.22) 791.64.85

Pauline Mumia, LWF,
  Tel: (+41.22) 791.63.54

Pàraic Rèamonn, Communications Secretary, WARC
  Tel: (+41.22) 791.62.43

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.