World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Communication to religious leaders in Ethiopia

13 May 1999

Letter to the members of the Interfaith Committee in Ethiopia via the Rev. Yadessa Daba, General Secretary of the Mekane Jesu Church and member of the WCC Executive Committee, 13 May 1999.

Dear friends,

It has been several weeks now since our visit with you. Though we have been silent in our communication with your Committee, I want to assure you that we have been working continuously on our shared concern for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Our time with you was enormously valuable, and we remain deeply grateful for your openness and willingness to take such extensive time to speak with us.

We are deeply troubled about the continuation and even intensification of the war, and its effects on the civilian populations, and are more convinced than ever that joint religious initiatives, both with respect to the present fighting and with regard to long-term peace and reconciliation initiatives are urgent.

The World Council of Churches has been in regular contact, since our visit, with Norwegian Church Aid in order to assure that ours is a common ecumenical engagement in support of your own efforts. We have agreed that, as soon as possible, another joint meeting should be held. The WCC is prepared to provide auspices for this in cooperation with NCA.

In order to move further in the direction of realizing this desire, Mr Stein Villumstad will be paying a follow-up visit to Addis Ababa next week. He comes also on behalf of the WCC, and as a new member of our Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

We are prepared to convene a joint meeting as early as possible in the month of August. This could be held at a place near Nairobi where a protected meeting site could be arranged. It might also be held near Geneva. We believe that there are now sufficient grounds to believe that the two sides can reach agreement on joint initiatives, based on the positions you have represented to one another in Oslo and Frankfurt. Given the importance that all attach to this, there could be merits in holding the meeting here in Geneva with the possibility of announcing the agreement in a formal press conference with the UN international press corps. This we leave to you to decide.

We have reported the conversations we had with you to the officers of the World Council of Churches, who endorsed wholeheartedly this interfaith initiative for peace. We continue to pray for peace, and with you to work for it.

With warm fraternal greetings, and in the fervent hope that we may meet again soon, I remain

Yours respectfully,
Dwain C. Epps
Coordinator, International Relations

Filed under: , , ,