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


On the opening day of the meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the general secretary, Dr Konrad Raiser, stressed that a proposed Decade to Overcome Violence would be an essential part of what it means to be the church in the 21st century. Violence in the home and on the streets, between ethnic and religious groups, within and between nations and societies had become the most powerful force destroying human community life, he said. Then, on its second day of deliberations, the Central Committee was invited to a first discussion of the proposed Decade, introduced by the bishop-elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Dr Margot Kässmann.

Kässmann called upon the WCC and its member churches, through the Decade, to join in building a culture of peace. The churches and the WCC had been involved in peace initiatives for decades and had long experience to draw on, she said. The "Peace to the City" campaign carried out by the WCC in 1996, for example, had shown that work for peace has to be concrete and anchored in local situations. This was not introducing new programmes but renewing existing ones and linking up with non-church initiatives. It would be important, too, said Kässmann, to develop a spirituality of non-violence.

Several Central Committee members suggested linking the proposed Ecumenical Decade with the United Nations' "Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World", likewise scheduled to begin in 2001. Members also said that the topic of "violence" was an opportunity to continue work on some of the concerns arising out of the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women, which ended last year.

The various suggestions from Central Committee members will now be discussed by a WCC "Reference Committee", which will submit concrete proposals to the Central Committee.

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.