International Affairs, Peace & Human Security

WCC Press Release, 17 May 1995

Dr Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) arrived in Jerusalem Monday evening (15 May) at the beginning of a six-day visit to WCC member churches in the region.

At a reception on Tuesday evening (16 May), His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch and a President of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), welcomed Dr Raiser on behalf of the churches of Jerusalem and the MECC.

Jerusalem 1990: March for peace

The Patriarch told Dr Raiser the churches in Jerusalem, despite the things which still divide them, "are trying to be one in their hearts, according to the wish of Jesus Christ." His Beatitude added that the concern of the Church was to serve all people in the Holy Land - Christians, Muslims and Jews, who should live together as one family having the same rights. This, the Patriarch believed, was the way to bring about peace in the land.

Replying, Dr Raiser said he and his delegation had come to Jerusalem in a spirit of Christian solidarity and to strengthen the ties between the WCC, its member churches and other churches in the region who, as part of larger bodies, are also WCC member churches. Noting that his visit was taking place between Easter and Pentecost, Dr Raiser commented, "My prayer is that the spirit of Pentecost might still be alive among us."

Dr Raiser recalled that at the first Christian Pentecost people from many nations and cultures were united because they heard, in their own language, of the good things which God had done. "Now, although we will not speak in the same language or follow the same liturgy, I pray all the churches in Jerusalem will make the same basic affirmation of faith."

This visit to Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza is the latest in a series made to member churches by Dr Raiser since his appointment as General Secretary in January 1993.

During his visit, Dr Raiser will meet heads of churches, religious community organisations and Israeli and Palestinian government officials, including President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In all his conversations, the WCC General Secretary will stress the fact that, in a situation which is rapidly developing and where the process of implementation of the Israeli/Palestinian accords is a cause of concern, the WCC wishes to be supportive of all who long for peace with justice in a land which for so long has not known, and still does not experience, true peace.

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