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


27 August 1999


Though a decade of concern for violence in the world may not officially begin until 2001, existing programmes of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its member churches are already preparing for it, said the Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the WCC, Thurday, 26 September.

Dr Raiser stressed that the Decade to Overcome Violence would start with initiatives that have already taken place in member churches and "reinforce and assist them". Dr Raiser said "this is not to be a programme master-minded from Geneva," referring to the headquarters city of the international organization.

The WCC General Secretary also said, in response to a question at a news conference, that there would be an inter-religious component to the effort. He noted that other world-wide organizations such as the UN had been seeking contacts with a wide variety of religious leaders, and said that "religions need to overcome the stereotypes with which they have treated each other historically".

In the concern for world violence, Dr Raiser said, "We as Christians have to be humble and listen to the wisdom of eastern religions, especially Buddhism which has had much to say on peace and non-violence."

Dr. Raiser spoke during the WCC’s Central Committee meeting here August 26-September 3.

Referring to his evaluation of the WCC’s Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, last December, Dr Raiser told reporters that the WCC and others were exploring whether a new "forum" of Christian organizations might contribute to the ecumenical movement. International Christian organizations, like the WCC, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) currently meet separately; but Dr Raiser suggested that it may be possible that the groups could meet together in parallel assemblies in the future. "This," he said, "would make common discussions possible."

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.