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Clement John, human rights advocate and ecumenical pioneer

Clement John, 66, former staff of the World Council of Churches (WCC), died on Monday, 2 June. Shocked by the news of John's death the WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia praised him as "an outstanding advocate in the international struggle for human rights" and "an ecumenical pioneer". John "was never reluctant to speak the truth" and "stood firm for justice and strove for peace", Kobia wrote in a tribute release today. An accomplished lawyer from the Church of Pakistan, John was a member of the WCC staff from 1993 to 2006. "His intellect and profound concern are reflected in almost every aspect of the public witness of the WCC", Kobia affirmed.

Churches applaud cluster munitions agreement, expect more states to join

"Churches around the world are much encouraged" by the multilateral agreement on cluster munitions reached Wednesday in Dublin, and now look with expectation to "powerful governments that have not been at the negotiating table", said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in a comment on the agreement today.

Myanmar theological education disrupted by Cyclone Nargis

Amongst the widespread devastation disseminated by Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar theological institutions were not spared their share of damage and loss.

E-mail a prayer for peace to Bethlehem

Bethlehem participants in a global week of church advocacy are inviting individuals and groups around the world to send them wishes and prayers for peace. Incoming e-mails will be shared with parishes, schools and organizations in Bethlehem and Jerusalem as part of the action week, which is led by the World Council of Churches.

Spirituality energizes and sustains justice movements

A wide array of justice movements around the world are challenging churches to create new kinds of spirituality that will sustain them as they struggle against empire.

Churches from near and far mobilize relief for China

"Both the China Christian Council and the Amity Foundation have immediately joined with the local governments, Sichuan Christian Council and other partners in the affected areas in relief and rehabilitation efforts" for the victims of the 12 May devastating earthquake which killed over 41,000 people and left some five million homeless. Also, Action by Churches Together (ACT) International has "began a process to mobilise its members in various countries to extend all possible assistance to the people in affected areas".

Desmond Tutu: "Caring and compassion will prevail over evil and injustice"

"Evil, injustice, oppression, all of those awful things, they are not going to have the last word. Goodness, laughter, joy, caring, compassion, the things that you do and you help others do, those are going to prevail," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Geneva today.

Churches respond to 60 years of conflict in Israel and Palestine with a global week of actions for peace

A common prayer and message for peace in Palestine and Israel is ready for use in about 100 countries. Churches in 17 countries, plus two international ecumenical organizations, are planning various education and advocacy activities. These and more are part of a global week of action led by the World Council of Churches (WCC), 4-10 June 2008. This year marks 60 years since the partition of Palestine and 41 years of occupation.

Relief agencies wait for visas to aid Myanmar

The crisis in Myanmar is continuing to deteriorate as thousands of people remain homeless and relief supplies are slow in coming. Member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) are finding it difficult to respond to the crisis despite their willingness to provide funds and personnel. A former staff member living in Myanmar has said the situation continues to worsen.

Growing Christian community in Nepal needs strengthened theological education

Firsthand reports on the extraordinary development of Christianity in Nepal and the growing need for improvements in theological education and participation in the ecumenical movement were all part of recent consultation on the future of theological education in South Asia.

Myanmar: Churches to mobilize emergency aid

As the death toll of the tropical cyclone Nargis soars by the hour, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Kobia expressed "great distress and sadness" in a condolence letter to the Myanmar Council of Churches. "The humanitarian aid arm of the WCC and its member churches, Action by Churches Together (ACT) initiated a process to mobilize its members in various countries to extend all possible humanitarian assistance to the people in affected areas in the coming days", Kobia wrote. He also expressed "hope that the Myanmar government will give easy access and provide necessary assistance to international aid workers and humanitarian aid agencies to facilitate relief operations in affected areas".

WCC congratulates Paraguayan President-elect

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia has congratulated President-elect Fernando Lugo on his victory in Paraguay's recent presidential election. In a letter dated 29 April, Kobia highlights Lugo's "commitment to the poorest and excluded", in tune with "the rich tradition of a Latin American Christianity which has struggled to follow Jesus amidst a reality marked by inequality and lack of justice". Acknowledging "difficult" challenges ahead, Kobia assures the president-elect of his prayers for "his administration to bring more justice and reconciliation to the Paraguayan people", as well as the possibility of "building a society that reduces the gap between the rich and the poor and addresses corruption". Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop, won the 20 April Paraguay's presidential election, ending six decades of one-party rule.

Ecumenical observers challenge Zimbabwe election process and demand respect for the will of the people

The 29 March elections in Zimbabwe were "far from being free and fair" and were "skewed in favour of the incumbent who openly utilised state resources to his advantage," two ecumenical bodies said in a recently released report on the election. The Zimbabwean people "expressed their will on polling day" and that will must be "upheld and respected" the report said.

Statement on Zimbabwe by the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches

Concerned about the integrity of elections, the World Council of Churches Central Committee stated recently that, "…in democratic systems, elections serve as a way for people to confer legitimacy on a participatory democratic political system. In order to ensure that an election truly reflects the will of the people, attention should be paid to pre- and post-electoral mechanisms."

WCC delegation met with Syria's Assad

The diminishing religious diversity in the Middle East was discussed as a threat to the stability of the region on Monday 21 April meeting between a WCC delegation and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria sets example for good relations between Christians and Muslims and hospitality to refugees

"Islam cannot be studied like grammar," Patriarch Ignatius IV (Hazim) of the Greek Orthodox Church in Syria, told a delegation led by Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who had come to Syria wishing to learn from the country's long experience of Christians and Muslims living peacefully together. "We have to see the real people and share with them. Muslims are sharing with you by living in your countries. Why do you ignore them?" the patriarch asked particularly the delegation members from Europe and the United States at the outset of their 19 to 22 April visit.

WCC delegation visits Christians in the UAE

Appreciation for the good work done by churches in the Gulf region was expressed by the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia at the end of a 17 to 19 April visit to the United Arab Emirates.