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WCC general secretary to visit churches in Angola

02 October 2003

The last pastoral visit to churches in Africa by the outgoing general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, will be to Angola.

The 7-16 October 2003 visit is intended to discover how the ecumenical family may accompany the churches in Angola as they struggle to heal the wounds of the long civil war from which their country is emerging.

With "Healing the Land" as its theme, the visit will allow Raiser to meet representatives of WCC member churches, ecumenical bodies, government and civil society organizations involved in Angola's reconstruction after virtually a quarter of a century of civil war.

"The WCC stood with the people of Angola in the struggle for liberation," wrote Council of Christian Churches in Angola (Consejo de Igrejas Cristas em Angola) general secretary Rev. Luis Nguimbi in a letter inviting Raiser to "come to celebrate with us God's blessings and also to encourage us to work for a lasting peace".

Raiser's agenda in Angola includes meetings with president José Eduardo dos Santos and with opposition party representatives on Tuesday 14 October, visits to a camp for internally displaced people in Moxico to see work done by churches and NGOs on Thursday 9 October, and several meetings with church leaders, youth and women.

It also includes an ecumenical gathering for worship at the Cidadela Stadium in the capital, Luanda, on Sunday 12 October, a seminar on "Healing the Land", to take place in Luanda and Lobito, and a lecture on "Challenges to ecumenism in peace reconstruction: the case of Angola".

A meeting with the press is scheduled for the morning of Wednesday 15 October in Luanda.

During his visit, Raiser will be accompanied by his wife, Dr Elisabeth Raiser; Ms. Marie Mbelu, general secretary of the Council of Swaziland Churches and chairperson of the Federation of Christian Churches in Southern Africa (FOCCISA); Rev. José D. Caetano, general secretary of the Evangelical Pentecostal Mission of Angola and WCC Central Committee member; Mr Mitch Odero, staff member of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC); Mr Elias Massicame, communication officer of the Christian Council of Mozambique; and Rev. Dr André Karamaga, WCC programme executive for Africa.

The WCC has four member churches in Angola: Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola, Evangelical Pentecostal Mission of Angola, Evangelical Reformed Church of Angola, and United Evangelical Church "Anglican Communion in Angola".