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WCC GENERAL SECRETARY TO VISIT THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: HOW CAN THE CHURCHES HELP SETTLE THE CONFLICT?
Their programme will include meetings with representatives of WCC member churches, and of churches which belong to the overarching ecumenical organization, the Church of Christ in Congo but not to the WCC, as well as representatives of the Roman Catholic and Independent churches.
The aim of this visit will be to renew contacts between the WCC and the Congolese churches, says Raiser. Conversations with the WCC Member Churches Coordinating Committee will look, amongst other things, at "how they envisage the future shape of relations with the WCC".
From the meetings with church representatives from the eastern part of the country Raiser hopes also to receive information about the war situation in the border area with Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. "We also want to explore how the WCC can contribute to a settlement of the conflict in the East of the country." Any initiative of this kind would have to be closely coordinated with the Roman Catholic Church, said Raiser.
He added that the delegation also hoped to gain a better understanding of the overall dynamics of the situation in the Great Lakes Region, particularly the role of countries like Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola. "How the situation in the region develops in future will largely depend on how the balance of power in and between the countries there stabilizes," he said.
For the 8th assembly of the WCC (Harare, December 1998), the main concern was "reconstructing viable social, economic and political structures for Africa".
It is not yet certain whether the delegation will meet the head of state, Laurent Kabila. The provisional visit schedule also foresees meetings with representatives of the democratic opposition.
Other high points are a visit to Nkamba, the birthplace of the Congolese church founder Simon Kimbangu, as well as visits to theological training centres. The delegation will also attend the ceremonial inauguration of the president of the Church of Christ in Congo, Bishop Marini.
WCC general secretary Raiser will be accompanied by one of the WCC presidents, Dr Agnes Abuom of Kenya, as well as by Ms Evelyne Appiah of the WCC "Education and Ecumenical Formation" team and Mr Huibert van Beek of the WCC "Church and Ecumenical Relations" team.
The members of the AACC delegation, besides the general secretary, Rev. Canon Clement Janda and the president, Prof. Dr Kwesi Dickson, will be Ms Karimi Kinoti, secretary of the newly established Fellowship of Churches and Councils of Churches in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, and Rev. Ngoy Mulundu, AACC secretary for International Affairs.
Ten churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo are at present members of the WCC:
* Baptist Community of Western Congo
The Church of Christ in Congo has over 60 member churches in all.
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.