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Star power shines light on AIDS epidemic

Prince Harry, Elton John, Charlize Theron, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Bill Gates – royalty, celebrities, religious leaders and philanthropists joined scientists, politicians, health workers, and activists – all of whom include people of faith – at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban. At a time when “AIDS fatigue” deepens, affecting funding, awareness and capacity to respond, the stars help to put a media spotlight on the many challenges and injustices that remain.

Communication has vital role in building a just peace

Students of communication and theology will address questions of media and globalization and then explore how these relate to the theme of religion in mass media, as part of a global summer school held from 23 to 31 July in Jamaica.

A fresh agenda for ecumenism in Asia

No time has been wasted since May last year when the 14th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) mandated its newly elected executive committee to reorganize CCA’ s programme structure. In October, after five months as its new general secretary, Dr Mathews George Chunakara could present a new strategic plan focused on four programme areas with clear priorities outlined.

“Walk the talk” - Philippines churches put words into action for HIV response

Thirty-five years into the response to HIV and AIDS, it remains a disease that not only thrives on, but exploits the lines of exclusion and inequality in society. In the Philippines, where there has been an alarming increase in people testing positive for HIV, the country’s National Council of Churches recognized that more than words were needed. While dialogue and debate were important, they needed to translate into action, given the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in Filipino society, and a faith-based and societal milieu still dominated by a sex-negative theology.

Churches bring strong voice for justice in Zimbabwe

“Ecumenical solidarity will be the key for Zimbabwe as we move into this latest phase — a kairos moment— when Zimbabwe will need the support of the whole ecumenical movement.” These are the words of Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, study secretary for Lutheran theology and practice at the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva since 2010. He has also recently been appointed general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

“Finish the race!” - Faith communities recommit to end HIV and AIDS

In a final session at the faith-based pre-conference on HIV and AIDS, faith communities re-committed themselves to ending HIV and AIDS, and to keeping up the pressure in the face of “AIDS fatigue.” In a stirring speech, Rev. Phumzile Mabizela, executive director of INERELA+ said, “We must continue in the fast lane. We cannot return to the slow lane or go slow in the fast lane.”

Faith-based groups vow to create even more safe spaces for people living with HIV

“Prophet, people and a plan.” That’s what faith-based organizations (FBOs) need to ensure nobody living with HIV is left behind, said Jesse Milan, past board chair of the Black AIDS Institute. He was speaking as part of a panel group at the Faith on the Fast Track AIDS2016 Pre-Conference.

In Zimbabwe, churches implore: “be responsive to the cries of our people”

Church leaders in Zimbabwe expressed their concern for their country’s political, social and economic meltdown that has caused increasing civic unrest and violence over the past month.

Children are being let down over HIV care

We are failing our children with HIV care was the stark message of a joint session of the interfaith and Catholic pre-conferences being held in Durban, South Africa in advance of AIDS 2016. Targets for childcare have been missed, medication is not suitable and we still need earlier infant diagnosis with half of infants infected dying within 24 months.

AIDS 2016: “Stigma kills more people than HIV”

More than 150 people attending the interfaith pre-conference, which opened on 16 July in Durban, heard urgent challenges to reduce stigma and discrimination; increase access to HIV services; and defend human rights as key elements of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

WCC: Urgent call from church leaders in South Sudan for food and just peace

South Sudan is in crisis again. People are suffering. There is no food. The situation is very urgent, according to the latest news from church leaders in South Sudan, says Dr Nigussu Legesse, WCC programme executive for South Sudan.

South Sudan on brink of major humanitarian crisis, church leaders report

With increasing violence and growing crowds of people seeking protection, urgent action and support from the ecumenical community is needed in South Sudan as the country teeters on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.

WCC condemns violence and calls for prayer and action in the wake of Nice atrocity

The WCC acting general secretary, Georges Lemopoulos, has called for prayer and acts of common caring following a murderous attack on holiday makers in the southern French city of Nice.

Brazilian Methodists reaffirm commitment to mission and discipleship

“The vision for mission and the many ministries of the Methodists in Brazil have deep value and impact for the people,” wrote Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in a letter to the 20th General Council of the Methodist Church in Brazil on 8 July.

To be human is to be vulnerable…

When we refer to the disabled as “vulnerable,” we strengthen the delusion that individuals without disabilities are strong and can take care of themselves.

EDAN coordinator elected to Committee of Experts to the UNCRPD

Dr Samuel Kabue, executive secretary of the WCC’s Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, an initiative of the World Council of Churches, was elected to the Committee of Experts to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities.

WCC moderator “We need a theology of life to sustain peace”

Interview with Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee at the Synod of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg, Germany.

Hagia Sophia: reciprocal respect and the politics of religion

During this year’s Muslim festival of Ramadan, the Turkish ministry of religious affairs has permitted the call to prayer by a muezzin and the reciting of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, within the historically Christian site of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

A grain of hope for justice and peace in the Holy Land

Every morning a cheerful and articulate man arrives at his office in East Jerusalem with at least a grain of hope. Dr Bernard Sabella has devoted his entire life to the rights of the Palestinian people. In his job as the executive director of Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees, he encounters issues concerning the Palestinian-Israeli relationship daily.

‘Unprecedented times of hopelessness’ in Holy Land

For Ramzi Zananiri, executive director of Jerusalem and the West bank at the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, which is part of the Middle East Council of Churches, the current situation in the Holy Land is "heart-breaking", and he says the Palestinians are "hostages" under troublesome realities.