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Faith groups emphasize action before International AIDS Conference

Can religions do more in response to the AIDS pandemic? To address this question over 450 representatives of faith-based organizations currently responding to HIV and AIDS will gather in Mexico City, 31 July - 2 August, in advance of the XVII International AIDS Conference.

West Papuans "traumatized", WCC team tells Indonesian government

West Papuans have yet to recover from the trauma of human rights violations. At the same time continuing in-migration is threatening to marginalize them in their resource-rich province, an ecumenical team from the World Council of Churches (WCC) told top-level Indonesian government officials.

Expectations for young visions of the future

"I eagerly await an account of your visions predicting what tomorrow may bring", expressed the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in a message of support to the 34th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). Taking place in Montreal, Canada from 1-9 August 2008, the gathering will bring together some 200 students and young leaders from all over the world with the theme "Your sons and daughters shall prophesy". In recalling his own involvement with the WSCF as a young Christian student, Kobia stated: "I am profoundly aware of the influence that the student Christian movement can have in shaping a person's life".

End ban on aid, say ecumenical leaders hailing Zimbabwe memorandum of understanding

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has joined with a coalition of church organizations calling for an end to restrictions which have banned humanitarian aid distributions in Zimbabwe.

Inter-religious dialogue is a top concern for WCC and Ecumenical Patriarchate

Dialogue is "the best way for mutual understanding and cooperation in human relations as well as in peaceful coexistence among nations," said the final communiqué issued by the conveners of the World Conference on Dialogue and broadly affirmed by the conference which ended on Friday 18 July in Madrid, Spain.

WCC congratulates Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday

"It was amazing to see you celebrating your birthday together with more than 50,000 people from all walks of life in London Hyde Park a couple of weeks ago. I was impressed not so much by the stars who lined up to sing and perform for you, but by the many young people who cheered and were encouraged by your presence, and by your wise words "it is now in your hands". This gives hope to all of us that there will be real freedom for all!", said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in a letter of congratulation to Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday.

Churches' feedback greatly needed, committee says

A key committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling ecumenical partners, including its 349 member churches, for more feedback on two crucial matters of concern facing the church and the WCC.

WCC solidarity team visit to strengthen Indonesian Christian efforts in overcoming violence

Churches working for peace in Indonesia - a country which over the last decades had to cope with repeated outbreaks of ethnic and religious conflicts, the integration of internally displaced people as well as refugees from outside its borders - will receive a solidarity visit of an international ecumenical delegation sent by the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 17 to 24 July. The delegation members (see list below) will learn about peace-building projects by Indonesian Christians and share experiences made in their own churches in Australia, USA, Germany, Korea and Sudan. After a general introduction in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the delegation will split into two groups in order to visit different regions. While Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, has a tradition of tolerance, the regions of Central Sulawesi and the Moluccas have been the scene of Muslim-Christian fighting after 1998. Meetings on 18-20 July in Poso (Central Sulawesi) and Ambon (Moluccas) , including an encounter with Muslim leaders, will be an opportunity to learn about initiatives to tackle radicalism. From Sulawesi, the first group will travel on to Kupang in the western part of the Timor island, capital of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. The province has seen a considerable influx of refugees and deportees following the independence referendum in East Timor in 1999. Meanwhile, the second group will pay a visit to West Papua , where tensions between the traditional Christian majority and Muslim migrants arriving from other Indonesian islands have led to "the emergence of new, exclusivist groups in both religious communities", according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group. Over the past years the WCC has also repeatedly expressed its concern over human rights violations against the indigenous people of Papua . On 24 July, both groups will be back in Jakarta for an evaluation session with the executive board of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), who hosts the visit. The ecumenical delegation is sent to Indonesia as "living letters" to express the solidarity of the WCC fellowship, which comprises 349 churches worldwide. Until 2010, several Living Letters visits take place each year throughout the world in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011. Indonesia, the world's 4th most populous nation, is also the country with the biggest number of WCC member churches, 27 in total. Group visiting Poso and Kupang:

WCC to attend Madrid interfaith conference

World Council of Churches (WCC) representatives will participate at the 16-18 July international interfaith conference convened in Madrid by the Muslim World League following an initiative by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.

Pacific visit to highlight WCC concern on climate change

Climate change, its causes and consequences as well as the role of churches and the worldwide ecumenical family will be at the center of a 7-14 July visit to the Pacific region by the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia.

Churches warn G8: A billion people may face constant hunger

"Our world may soon have a billion people living with constant hunger but we produce enough food to feed double the current global population if everyone shared equally," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu as G8 leaders prepare to meet in Japan. "World leaders must seek justice in solutions to the food crisis that now faces us."

Care for the people of Zimbabwe, WCC tells the international community

After "what is now being described as a deeply flawed election", the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for the protection of the population "against increased and continued violence", an "intensified international monitoring of the situation" and the provision of humanitarian aid. The WCC also issued a warning concerning the possible consequences of economic sanctions.

WCC team challenges Germany, "the European champion in arms sales", with questions about the purpose of war

On a visit to the German Federal Defence Ministry in Berlin on Tuesday evening, members of a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) asked questions about German arms sales and about whether wars, such as the Iraq war, can ever solve problems.

Violence within the family: Churches need to keep their ears open to calls for help

German churches' experience with the issue of "domestic violence" will play an important role in a Peace Declaration of the World Council of Churches planned for 2011. "The churches have denied the existence of this issue for a long time", said Georges Lemopoulos, deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), speaking on Saturday 28 June in Frankfurt.

WCC salutes Ingrid Betancourt's liberation, calls for other hostages to be released

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia expressed "joy" at the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages in Colombia today. Welcoming the liberation "as an important step in a yet uncompleted process", Kobia called upon the FARC "to release hostages on a humanitarian basis".

Winning essays on prospects for ecumenism: "gifts of inspiration and leadership"

Ideas for "bringing unity down to earth", "communicative action" and a "theology of the wilderness" were among the winning entries submitted for an essay contest on Prospects for Ecumenism in the 21st Century. The winners, two women and four men, come from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

WCC urges Seoul not to put pre-conditions to North Korea

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia has urged South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to "take urgent measures to strengthen inter-Korean relationships without any pre-conditions".

Church unity and interreligious dialogue discussed at WCC visit to Egypt

Challenges facing Christians today are too strong for a divided church, said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in Egypt recently as he called for church unity both locally and globally. Kobia was speaking during a 16-21 June visit to WCC member churches in the country.