2010 focus on peace building in Africa
02 February 2010
The role of the church in building just peace was highlighted last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where three World Council of Churches (WCC) advisory groups met to recognize the culmination of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) and the forthcoming International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) scheduled for May 2011.
"The church is expected to be with the struggle to overcome violence," Patrick Mazimhaka, former deputy chairperson of the African Union (AU), told the group which met at the Conference Centre of Roman Catholic Bishops from 24 to 29 January.
The meetings were hosted by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The group received greetings from the church's patriarch Abune Paulos, who is a president of the WCC.
Speaking to the fact that the DOV will have an Africa focus in 2010 for overcoming violence, the patriarch said, "We shall every time discover guidance from God to correct the inequalities of our social order, and redeem our country men, contemporaries, our neighbours from the hereditary poverty and suffering."
The WCC advisory groups included the WCC Commission on Youth in the Ecumenical Movement (Echos), the DOV Reference Group and the IEPC Planning Committee. The group members came from Asia, Europe, the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Americas.
In addition to their meetings and discussions they visited a day-centre for refugees run by a church-related organization where they engaged with and shared the plight and hopes of young people and families from Somalia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.
"What we learn is that this (Africa) is not just the cradle of humanity, but also the cradle of hope and a cradle of reconciliation," said Prof. Dr Fernando Enns, moderator of both the DOV Reference Group and the IEPC Planning Committee.
"His Excellency Mazimhaka has taught us that the root causes of violence in Africa are exclusion and neglect of people. And he has reminded us about the responsibility of the churches to bring peace and reconciliation," he said.
"The Echos Commission have greatly appreciated the opportunity to be with the DOV and IEPC groups in Addis Ababa sharing concerns and hopes about how we can work together for the promotion of a just and peaceful world," said Diana Fernandes dos Santos, moderator of the Echos Commission, after the meetings.
"African youth representatives in the Commission welcomed the opportunity to share on peace making efforts by African Churches and expressed gratitude for the special focus on the African context given by both the DOV/IEPC and Echos agendas."
The Decade to Overcome Violence ends in 2010. In 2011 the IEPC will be held in Kingston, Jamaica, to celebrate the work of the DOV and further motivate churches to continue peace building.