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WCC Advocacy Week: 2005 will be a Crucial Year for Church Advocacy
World Council of Churches advocacy includes reform of the United Nations.
With Sudan and Iraq dominating the headlines and important review processes on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, UN reform and the Millennium Development Goals on the international agenda, churches throughout the world will have a critical role to play in advocacy in 2005.
That was the prevailing assessment of a World Council of Churches' (WCC) International Affairs and Advocacy Week that ended on Friday 19 November 2004. The Week underscored that now, more than ever before, the role of religion in politics and international affairs demands the attention and action of the churches.
"By emphasizing fundamental ethics and humanity, by giving voice to the voiceless, by focusing on inclusiveness and a deeper sense of hope, by highlighting the importance of the meeting of cultures, by being ecumenical, religion will make a much-needed and constructive contribution to our societies," said WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) director Peter Weiderud during one of the Week's final sessions.
Participants were key leaders in arena of international affairs from around the world - people engaged in bringing forgotten conflicts to the forefront of church attention and raising awareness among church members on international affairs, opening dialogue with national political leaders, and promoting hope for a world of real peace and justice.
A full programme of events taking place in New York City offered them an opportunity for vital information-sharing, solidarity and strategizing - for the work of the CCIA as well as for advocacy work at the local, national and regional levels being done by churches around the world. Public seminars at the UN were an opportunity for church leaders, experts in international affairs and people from broader civil society to dialogue on current events and issues.
The programme also offered a place in which "to express the cries of people in my own country and to hear from others who are part of the universal struggle for peace and justice," said Welly Esau Mandowen of West Papua, Indonesia.
For Jitka Krausova, the general secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, the Week was an opportunity for direct contact with the important and relevant work that WCC/CCIA is doing, and provided opportunities for her to learn how WCC member churches in the Czech Republic can support churches in struggles for peace and justice around the world.
"I had lost hope in advocacy in our critical situations in the Middle East, because it seems that the superpowers throw all of our best efforts away. When I hear from this group of churches and people committed to being people of hope, I am learning how advocacy can be effective. We can not give up," said the associate general Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Nuhad Tomeh.
"The UN Advocacy Week helps us create a roadmap of possibilities for actions and efforts in the coming year," said Ms Sharon Bradshaw of the Caribbean Conference of Churches.
Hearing about the perseverance of many church leaders and workers dealing with long-standing conflicts in Colombia, Israel and Palestine, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia and Zimbabwe was inspiring. Keeping hope alive throughout such trying times is a major challenge. During the Week, participants heard evidence that some of these processes have taken a positive turn, which has led to greater solidarity in the global ecumenical movement, and increased support for the difficult work that still lies ahead.
"Without being paralyzed by the realities of the world, we as churches are called to offer hope and promise as well as a call to repentance, on the basis of the Gospel. We must continue with the ecumenical movementís commitment to promoting a just, peaceful, participatory and sustainable world order," concluded Peter Weiderud at the Week's closing reception.
Media contact person: Dr Laurence Konmla Bropleh, permanent representative, WCC UN Liaison Office, tel: 1 212- 867 5891, Mobile: 1 202 258 4166 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the 2004 WCC Advocacy Week is available at: http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/advocweek04.html
More information on the work of the WCC UN Liaison Office (UNLO) in New York is available at http://www.wcc-un.org
Photos from the 14-19 November International Advocacy Week are available on our website at: http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/advocweek-photos.html
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