Around the world Tuesday, Protestant and Catholic churches marked the International Day of Prayer for Peace with ecumenical and inter-faith events.
In Jos, Nigeria, Muslims and Christians came together to pray for peace in the wake of community and church burnings, looting and killings.
In Nairobi, Kenya, the All-Africa Conference of Churches said it prayed for Africa, especially for Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo where violence and suffering are a tragic reality.
"We need the churches to have counter action, to have a word against violence, a word against sin, a word against what can break down our human fellowship and our human future together," remarked the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, whose ecumenical church body initiated the annual observance six years ago in parallel with the U.N. International Day for Peace.
During a seminar held to mark the International Day of Prayer for Peace, Tveit stressed the need for reconciliation and forgiveness.
"You know more than I do what it is not to have the freedom you are longing for - freedom from violence, freedom from discrimination, freedom from poverty, freedom from war," he told those gathered at the headquarters of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi.
According to WCC, some 90 congregations and community organizations in various countries participated in the International Day of Prayer for Peace in partnership with On Earth Peace, a ministry related to the Church of the Brethren.
The World YWCA called its associations in 125 countries to observe the day as an opportunity to “nurture lasting peace in families and communities.”
Ecumenical agency Act for Peace in Australia, meanwhile, urged churches, parishes and individuals to observe and pray for a day of ceasefires, both personal and political.
And in the United States, prayer vigils and forums on peace-related themes were held. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, whose member bodies represent around 45 million people in more than 100,000 local congregations across the nation, has furthermore been promoting a campaign to collect one million pledges to pray for peace and send them to United Nations.
As the broadest and most diverse fellowship of churches in the modern ecumenical movement, the WCC brings together 349 church bodies, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians.
The fellowship has members from the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many independent churches.
This year, which marks the last year of WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence, the ecumenical group's anti-violence initiative is focused on Africa.