Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peace convocation opens with strong calls from global voices

"The principle question we have to answer is what we as Christians can do
together in the face of growing violence, aggression, exploitation and
terror," said Archbishop Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.

World Council of Churches - News


For immediate release: 19 May 2011

The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) formally opened on
Wednesday in Kingston, Jamaica, as theologians, faith leaders and the prime
minister of Jamaica welcomed some 1,000 participants from more than 100

Keynote speaker Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher, a globally recognized peace
activist, called for churches across all spiritual traditions to strengthen
their position on peace, even while recognizing their own history of
declaring war in the name of God.

"Under the sign of the cross, Christian nations conquered other nations," he
said. "In the crusades, they massacred the children of Islam. That has not
been forgotten. We, just like our brothers and sisters in Islam, regard
those who die in battle as certain of a place in heaven."

Oestreicher acknowledged that the path to peace is obstructed by political

"At the moment war, once it starts, is held by most of our neighbours to be
honourable, probably necessary, and sometimes noble. Language disguises the
bloody, cruel reality," he said.

The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of
Churches (WCC), moderated the convocation's opening session, which included
an opening prayer service, greetings, and stories of churches seeking peace
and reconciliation.

"I believe that God has called us here from many parts of the world to carry
from your countries your experiences," he said. "Many of you carry with you
the realities of the injustice of violence."

Those from the Caribbean region and Jamaica welcomed IEPC participants, many
of whom were visiting Jamaica for the first time.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding acknowledged his own country's history
of violence and, at the same time, its ingenuity and resilience in coping
over the decades.

"I genuinely believe that we were all created by the same God," he said.
"The challenge is: how can we transform our discussion into a shared set of
values that are universally accepted and sustained."

Theologians began asking the questions that IEPC participants will wrestle
with during the next week. Archbishop Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk,
chairman of the department of external church relations of the Russian
Orthodox Church, spoke of Christians and others across the globe who are
daily exposed to humiliation and threats.

"The principle question we have to answer is what we as Christians can do
together in the face of growing violence, aggression, exploitation and
terror," he said.

The IEPC comes at the end of a Decade to Overcome Violence, an initiative of
the WCC that strove to strengthen existing efforts and networks for
preventing and overcoming violence, as well as inspire the creation of new

The Rev. Dr Margot Kaessmann, a Lutheran theologian and minister in the
Evangelical Church of Germany, said that IEPC participants are part of a
long and complex journey that only begins this week.

"Our economies profit from violence and war that we lament," she said.
"Religion plays a vital role with regard to peace-making and overcoming
violence. It is time that religion refuses to be misused by pouring oil into
the fire of war and hatred."

The opening plenary was preceded by an opening worship and prayer service
filled with song and prayers for peace. The events of the afternoon were
closed with a prayer from Jamaican Archbishop Donald Reece of the Roman
Catholic Church. (Link: )

Both events were broadcast live around the world through a video stream
available through the IEPC website
(Link: ). The
morning plenaries throughout the remainder of the IEPC will also be
broadcast live through a video stream from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm local time
(GMT - 5 hours).

IEPC website (Link: )

Text of the speeches at the opening plenary (Link: )

The IEPC in social media (Link: )

High resolution photos of the event may be requested free of charge via (Link: )

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and
service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches
founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox,
Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in
over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran]
Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.


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