World Council Declares Decade to Overcome Violence

Article excerpt

ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONALparGenevaparViolence and how the churches should respond to it was a key topic at the late summer meeting of the World Council of Churches' central committee meeting in Geneva.

The council has declared the years 2001 to 2010 the Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence -- Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace.

The central committee confirmed the idea suggested by a German Mennonite pastor, Fernando Enns, at last December's eighth assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Also at the central committee meeting, three Canadian Anglicans were named to WCC posts. Primate Michael Peers will sit on the special commission dealing with Orthodox church concerns; Ellie Johnson, director of Partnerships, will advise the commission on world mission and evangelism; and Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of Faith, Worship and Ministry, has been named a member of the plenary commission of faith and order and a member of the advisory group on ecumenical relations.

Alice Jean Finlay, an Anglican from Toronto, sat on the nominations committee that met in Geneva. She said she left the meeting with a sense of hope for the future of the WCC. She thinks the decade to overcome violence has possibilities.

"It sounds like such an unrealistic hope and yet there were some very practical suggestions made on how churches can get involved," Ms. Finlay said.

Some churches around the world have developed interesting skills for approaching reconciliation and peace-making, she said. The WCC could compile this kind of information and send it to other churches.

During the meeting, WCC general secretary, Konrad Raiser, laid part of the blame for widespread violence and conflict on Christian churches.

He said churches need to find a new way of "looking at ourselves to learn how our churches and Christian traditions may have contributed to establishing a culture at least of implicit violence."

The decade will not be merely another program at the WCC, he said. "Violence in the homes and on the streets, between ethnic and religious groups, within and between societies, is the most powerful force destroying human community life."

The central committee approved a memorandum reaffirming the United Nations as the "unique instrument" for maintaining global peace. …