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Asian churches to deepen their commitment to overcoming violence in 2005

05 April 2005

Asia has the potential to become economically prosperous in the near future, but it is also likely to see increasing disparities of health and wealth. These injustices are themselves a form of violence that may in turn lead to yet more expressions of violence in the region. This potential scenario makes the focus on the Asian region in 2005 by the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) all the more relevant.

This assessment was voiced by Rev. Rothangliani R. Chhangte from the American Baptist Churches in the USA during the formal launch of the DOV Asia focus at the 12th general assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) on Saturday 2 April in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A member of the DOV committee in the USA, Chhangte was speaking as a "living letter" from the region on which DOV focused during 2004. In that capacity, she brought the solidarity and a message from US churches to the churches in Asia: "The peace we seek is life in Christ, a dynamic life of well-being, reconciliation and healing even in the face of harsh and difficult circumstances."

The DOV focus on Asia will be a window through which "the eyes of the world will see how overcoming violence is being done by the churches in Asia," World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia told the gathering of representatives of over one hundred Asian churches. "Building communities of peace for all" has been chosen as the theme for the annual focus.

DOV coordinator Rev. Hansulrich Gerber emphasized that the DOV calls churches "to repent for their complicity in violence, and to engage in theological reflection and joint action to overcome the spirit, logic and practice of violence."

"Countless numbers of people are injured by violence, and the cost is nearly impossible to assess," Gerber says, adding that according to World Health Organization figures, an estimated 1.6 million people lost their lives to violence in 2000. About half were suicides, one third were homicides (interpersonal violence), and one fifth were casualities of armed conflict.

The CCA 12th general assembly lasts until Wednesday, 6 April.

Christian Conference of Asia website:

www.cca.org.hk/12ga/index.htm

Decade to Overcome Violence website:

www.overcomingviolence.org

Further information on the WCC general secretary's visit to Asia and the Decade to Overcome Violence is available on our website at:

Cf. WCC press update pu-05-10 of 1 April 2005

Cf. WCC press update pu-05-09 of 30 March 2005

Cf. WCC feature feat-05-09 of 30 March 2005

Cf. WCC press release pr-05-08 of 23 March 2005