Inside Issue N°8 - May 2002

Important peace moves in Eritrea and Ethiopia
Women in conflict zones want peace and justice
Lausanne: 75th anniversary of Faith and Order
Criteria for participating in international inter-religious initiatives
Focus on Indigenous people
Sexual violence in West Africa
Mission and Evangelism
Middle East conflict
WCC financial situation
Online Giving

This issue's Guest Editor
Recent publications
General information on the WCC News

Important peace moves in Eritrea and Ethiopia

In mid-February, inter-religious peace committees in Ethiopia and Eritrea paid joint visits to leaders of their respective countries to seek reconciliation after four years of devastating war. Soon after all-out war broke out in 1998 over a disputed border territory, leaders of the Orthodox, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches and of the Muslim communities on both sides formed emergency committees in the hope of building a bridge for peace between the two peoples. Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) accompanied these committees from the beginning, and a World Council of Churches (WCC) and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) joint delegation visited Asmara and Addis Ababa early on to offer international support. NCA continued these contacts on behalf of the wider ecumenical fellowship, and brought the religious leaders together several times. At one such meeting, in Oslo in 1999, they signalled their intention to visit their two national leaders as soon as possible to urge an end to the war. But it was not until after

A young herdsman near Agordat, about 130 km west of Asmara

United Nations and Organization for African Unity mediators managed to negotiate an end to the fighting that official agreements were finally obtained to receive the religious committees. On February 13, religious leaders from Ethiopia travelled to Asmara, where they were received warmly at a series of public meetings, and met the Eritrean minister of foreign affairs. In Addis Ababa, they were again received by welcoming throngs at public meetings, and met with the president of Ethiopia. Was this too little and too late? "All those involved would have liked to have seen these symbolic acts of religious leadership for peace come months or even years sooner," says Dwain Epps, WCC International Affairs coordinator. "Yet the joint commitment of religious leaders to remain in dialogue throughout the conflict undoubtedly helped to create a propitious climate for peace. The open fighting has now ended, but the divisions are still deep and durable peace is far from assured." "It is never too late to build the basis for a lasting peace," Epps says. "The task of post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation remains an urgent and arduous one. People look to the religious leaders to take a lead. We sincerely hope that they will continue together to help heal the wounds of war, and restore broken relationships and mutual confidence between the two nations and their leaders."

Women in conflict zones want peace and
Forty-five women from various conflict zones around the world met at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva between 17 and 20 March 2002 to share their experiences. The women described how they and their children suffer as the main victims of war and conflict. Living in fear and anxiety, many suffer violence and abuse at the hands of soldiers or men belonging to other ethnic groups. Some suffer violence not only as a result of war; they are also victims of racial violence. Others face permanent economic violence; for them the task of feeding their families is a daily battle. Ensuring that their families survive, and helping them rebuild their shattered lives are heavy burdens to bear.
The conference was jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) women's programme, headed by Aruna Gnanadason, and those of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC). "Making women's voices heard… this is the challenge in a fast-changing world! Women are at the centre of survival initiatives and of local efforts at bringing reconciliation. The question the women asked is why they are not at negotiating tables to deal with conflict," said Gnanadason.

Lausanne: 75th anniversary of Faith and Order
On 25 August 2002, Faith and Order will celebrate 75 years of work since the first world conference on Faith and Order in Lausanne (1927). The celebration will be held in the Lausanne (Switzerland) cathedral with local churches, who recently formed their own ecumenical covenant. The celebration will invite participants to remember and reappropriate the insights of the 1927 founding assembly, acknowledging that the identity of the contemporary ecumenical movement was deeply influenced by that assembly. According to Alan Falconer, Faith and Order director and team coordinator: "At the Lausanne conference, the representatives of the churches became aware of central aspects of Christian faith that they could affirm together. They also identified questions which divide the churches and on which they needed to reach agreement if the churches were to be one as Jesus Christ willed (John 17). For example, agreement was needed on baptism, eucharist, ministry, and understanding the nature of the churches. These items formed the agenda for Faith and Order's work throughout the 20th century." Over the years, a number of different methods for reaching consensus have emerged. Many agreements have been reached, perhaps the best of which is that on baptism, eucharist and ministry. This has transformed the relationship between churches and demonstrated that patient dialogue leads to change. As a continuation of this work, a new study of the nature of the church is underway. "For 75 years, Faith and Order has encouraged churches to move towards a unity which is God's gift and the task of the church. We are called to move beyond present perceptions and boundaries to make evident our unity through baptism in Jesus Christ," Falconer concludes.

In Memoriam
Jan H. Kok (1942-2002)
After a long and courageous battle against cancer, Jan H. Kok died on 7 February 2002 at the age of 59. The son of a family of Dutch publishers. Jan Kok joined the WCC in 1973 as director of Publications. While director of Communications between 1987 and 1999, he launched the "Risk Books" series popularizing major ecumenical issues. Having introduced the idea of a "Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement", he was also one of the founders of the ecumenical press service, ENI. Jan Kok leaves a wife, Birgitta, two children, Jakob and Frederik, in Geneva and his mother and sister in the Netherlands.

Marga Bührig (1915-2002)
A doctor in philosophy, Marga Bührig died on 12 February 2002 at the age of 86 in Binningen, Switzerland. Between 1983 and 1991, Bührig was one of three women elected to the eight-member presidium of the WCC. She was closely involved in the planning and preparation of the world convocation for "Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation", held in Seoul, Korea, in 1990. Throughout her life, Bührig worked to advance equal opportunities, and especially to increase the participation of marginalized people.

Metropolitan Bishop Timothée of Corfu (1939-2002)
A few days before his death on 15 March 2002 at the age of 63, Timothée of Corfu led the first official delegation from his church to the Vatican. Born in Corfu, Metropolitan Bishop Timothée studied theology, sociology and the pastoral care of seafarers and tourists. His studies took him from Athens to England, the United States and Italy. He was elected bishop in 1984, and nominated as coordinator of relations between the Greek Orthodox Church and the European Community. He led his church's delegation at the WCC assembly in Harare, where he was elected to the WCC central committee.

Susanta Adhikari
The people and Christian community in Bangladesh have lost a prominent ecumenical leader in the person of Mr Susanta Adhikari, who died on 22 February 2002 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Adhikari was president of both the National Council of Churches and of the Bangladesh Baptist Churches Sangha. He was also a delegate to the WCC assembly in Harare. Adhikari spent his life working for poor and marginalized people, and demonstrated unfailing commitment and openness to work for the unity of the churches and the ecumenical movement in Bangladesh.

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been awarded the Norwegian Sophie Prize 2002 for spiritual and practical ecumenical leadership in protecting and healing the earth. Known as the "Green Patriarch", Patriarch Bartholomew links faith to the environment, reminding all people of faith of their direct responsibility to protect the earth. In raising the environmental awareness of Orthodox faithful worldwide, he challenges leaders of all faiths to do the same.
Patriarch Bartholomew draws attention to both rights and obligations, criticizing over-consumption in the first world, and the lack of justice that causes inequity in developing nations. A committed ecumenical leader, he served on the central and executive committees of the World Council of Churches and the Faith and Order commission as its vice-moderator.
The Sophie Prize was established in 1997 as an annual international recognition of people working towards a sustainable future.

New Staff
General Secretariat
Sabine Udodesku from Bochum, Germany,
executive secretary in the General
Secretariat, ordained minister in the
Evangelical Church of Westphalia in


Bossey Ecumenical Institute
Elizabeth S. Tapia from Bulacan, Philippines, lecturer on mission for Bossey, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

Cluster on Communication
Olivier Schopfer, from Switzerland,
executive web editor in the Public
Information team, member of the
Protestant Church of Geneva.

o Yannick Provost, from France,
publisher,in the Publications and
Information team, member of the
Orthodox Archidiocese of
France, under the jurisdiction of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of

o Theodore Alexander Gill, from
New York, senior editor, Publications
and Documentation team, member
of the Presbyterian Church (USA).


Cluster on Issues and Themes
- Justice, Peace and Creation team
o André Karamaga, from Kigali, Rwanda,
consultant for Focus on Africa, member
of the Presbyterian church.
o Athena Peralt, from Manila, Philippines,
consultant for Women, Economy and
Rural Development, member of the
United Church of Christ.

- Mission and Evangelism team
o Christoph Mann, from Germany, project
manager (consultant) for the Ecumenical
HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa, member of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Württemberg, Germany.

Criteria for Participating in International Inter-religious Initiatives
For some time now, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and other religious organizations have been receiving a growing number of requests to join national and international inter-religious initiatives. The need for guidelines for participation in such initiatives spurred the holding of a multifaith meeting in Hong Kong, 8-12 April.
At the meeting, about 25 participants from of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh religions looked at some of the current examples of global inter-religious organizations such as the International Association for Religious Freedom, the World Conference on Religion and Peace, and the Global Ethics Foundation, and recent interfaith initiatives such as the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders and World Faiths Development Dialogue.
Participants considered all the initiatives as positive signs of the growing awareness of the need for interfaith cooperation and dialogue, but cautioned that religious leaders need to closely examine the context, purposes and framework for participation before joining specific initiatives. The idea that, because churches increasingly face religious plurality in their society, the WCC may need to consider a "wider ecumenism" as encompassing relations with other faith communities was advanced as one challenge. Perhaps, as one participant put it, we are at a place where the Lund principle of ecumenism - "that which we can do together, we should not do separately" - should apply to interfaith relations as well.
Hans Ucko, WCC staff for Inter-religious Relations and Dialogue, said he was impressed that so many representatives from other faith traditions "took their time to give advice to the WCC". This, he noted, reflects not only a growing need to assess possibilities for a common religious agenda, but also the importance of the WCC as a partner at the international level.

Focus on Indigenous People
What is the reason for the WCC's focus on Indigenous Peoples? Eugenio Poma Añaguaya, who coordinates the Council's Indigenous Peoples' work, explains:
"A small percentage of the world's population lives a religion of greed and exploitation. By their actions, the whole creation has been thrown into imbalance. Economies, cultures, religions and political systems have been corrupted, driving peoples away from their lands, polluting and disrupting the environment upon which all life depends. It is important to recognize the contributions of all Indigenous Peoples through their history, culture, and spirituality to preserve the creation for future generations." The work has two main facets. The first is encouraging Indigenous Peoples' consciousness of their relationship with the land and

An Indigenous Peoples' celebration at the UN in Geneva (left: Eugenio Poma of the WCC Indigenous programme)
affirming their identity, culture, cosmovision and philosophies of life, and also promoting dialogue between Indigenous spiritual leaders and Christian church leaders. The second is advocacy: it involves promoting, accompanying, developing and protecting the rights of Indigenous communities at local, regional and global levels. In Central and South America, the emphasis is on land and self-determination; in Africa, it is on spirituality in the face of environmental racism.
"All churches are faced with the challenge of standing with Indigenous communities when they are dispossessed of their lands and are denied justice," says Poma.

Sexual Violence in West Africa
The churches have reacted swiftly to allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation of refugee children in camps in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The World Council of Churches (WCC), Action by Churches Together (ACT) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) immediately sent an ecumenical team to follow up on the accusations made in a confidential report published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some ACT members (in Sierra Leone and Liberia) were implicated in the report, which made specific accusations of bad conduct.
ACT International, supported by the LWF and the WCC, on 1 March published a statement condemning all forms of sexual abuse and emphasizing "its profound disquiet about apparently serious acts of sexual violence and exploitation perpetrated against children by humanitarian aid workers".
According to Melaku Kifle of the WCC International Relations team, "We need to discuss how the churches, at local, national and international levels can raise awareness about this sexual violence and harassment and take measures to put a stop to it. Such violence is not tolerable under any circumstances."
Most of the people met by the team agreed that sexual violence and exploitation is an issue, especially in the context of the wars taking place in these three countries. There was a consensus that the UNHCR/Save the Children Fund (UK) report was a "wake-up call" to humanitarian organizations.
Unfortunately, according to the ecumenical delegation, the implementation of practical recommendations aimed at ensuring a local, regional and international responses can be compromised by the lack of adequate resources, such as funding. They recommended that ACT members and partner agencies try to redress the situation by asking their governments to increase financial support to UNHCR and other humanitarian aid organizations working with refugees.

Mission and Evangelism
The WCC's Mission and Evangelism team is preparing two major conferences: a June 26-2 July 2002 international consultation in Breklum, Germany, and its world mission and evangelism conference in 2005.
World mission conferences are held every 7-8 years; the last such conference was held in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, in 1996. The 2005 conference will focus on churches as reconciling and healing communities amidst multifaceted and changing contexts in a violent and globalized world.
The conference is expected to move away from producing long reports, and rather draw on experiences from local churches and mission groups worldwide. With a proposed ceiling of 500 participants, those unable to attend will be offered the possibility of interactive sessions on the web.
The theme of the Breklum consultation is "Believing without belonging? In search of new paradigms of church and mission in secularized and post-modern contexts". Missiologists from all regions of the world will look at new situations and challenges to church and mission, and their deliberations help prepare for the 2005 conference.

Middle East Conflict
Solidarity through active presence, advocacy to bring about public policy change, witnessing non-violent resistance to the occupation of Palestine, protection and deterrence of violence: these are the four priorities of an Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) which will be operational as of August.
The programme is based on a framework developed last February by a working group of 41 participants from World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches and ecumenical partners in Jerusalem, Europe, North America and South Africa. As preparations continue on the recruitment and training procedures for participants, an EAPPI pilot project,the Christian Accompaniment Programme, has been underway on the ground since March. Eight participants, seconded by Danchurchaid and Icelandic Church Aid, have been regularly reporting on human-rights violations, facilitating
access for health teams crossing military checkpoints, and escorting humanitarian convoys to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Participation in the EAPPI is proof that the church responses to the conflict have moved up one level says Salpy Eskidjian of the WCC International Relations team. "The programme signals a shift from strong statements of principle to tangible solidarity on the ground: physically helping and giving hope to local Christian and Muslim Palestinian and Israeli peace activists in their non-violent struggle to resist the military occupation."
The EAPPI is a central element of the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East, through which the WCC has invited member churches and partners to join in advocating an end to the occupation as a means of addressing the root causes of the conflict, helping create a viable Palestinian state, and working for a negotiated, secure and just peace in the Holy Land.

WCC Financial Situation
Discussions currently underway among representatives of the programme committee of the WCC central committee, the officers of the finance committee and members of the staff leadership group are aimed at increasing contributions from WCC member churches, confirming anticipated contributions from traditional donors, and identifying potential new sources of revenue. These efforts are accompanied by measures to reduce the operational budget for 2002 by 10%, and the staff budget line for 2003 by 7-10%. Plans are to be presented in final draft form to the officers at their meeting in Geneva in June.

Online Giving
To give online or offline to WCC work on Africa, Israel/Palestine, overcoming violence, globalization, and talking with other faiths, visit our website:

Please give now!

The guest editor for this issue of WCC News is Ben Pohue. Assisted by many able contributors, Pohue edits the bilingual Protestant monthly magazine known as "Veà porotetani", published by the Evangelical Church in French Polynesia (EEPF).

Recent Publications

Elisabeth Raiser and Barbara Robra eds
Women's Life and Work in the Worldwide Church

Based on a photo exhibit marking the end of the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women, a tribute to the contribution of women to the ecumenical movement.
196pp., Sfr.36.00, US$21.50, £14.95, Euros 24.00

Background information

128pp., available free of charge

Hans-Ruedi Weber
Biblical Signposts

In discussing the great festivals of the ecclesiastical year and the important periods in between, the author draws on the work of artists, especially painters and weavers, interpreting the images and symbols they use.
110pp., illustrated, Sfr.17.00, US$9.95, £6.95, Euros 11.00

Janice and Philip Wickeri eds
Selected Writings of Bishop K.H. Ting

Essays and sermons spanning the 60-year career of the author as a leader of the Chinese church and an ecumenical theologian.
approx. 128pp., Sfr.17.00, US$12.95, £8.95, Euros 15.00

A review of the main events bearing on the life and work of the WCC in 2001, and lists of the member churches, national and regional ecumenical bodies, specialized ecumenical organizations (with addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mails), and members of central committee and staff. Also included are the WCC's constitution and rules.
approx. 116pp., approx. Sfr.19.00, US$11.50, £7.95, Euros 13.00

This video gives people from different contexts and cultural backgrounds an opportunity to share with the viewer their thoughts and reflections on "learning for identity". It should be shown section by section: there are 14 sections, each about 7 minutes long. Total playing time: 104min. Available in English/PAL + English/NTSC.
Sfr.29.50 (+ postage Sfr.6.00), US$19.50 (+ $13.00), Euros 20.50 (+ Euros10.00)

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Guest editor for this issue:
Ben Pohue

Managing editor:
Kristine Greenaway

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