WCC Reflects on Decade of Overcoming Violence

In a world full of violence and hate, there is no greater mission than “saving God’s children from the scourge of war,” a former U.N. official said to thousands of Christian leaders at the World Council of Churches’ 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

“Few missions could be more compelling for the world today and for this Assembly,” Olara Otunnu, former U.N. under-secretary general and current president of LBL Foundation for Children, told the attendants on Saturday. “Children have a right to protection and well-being.”

Otunnu’s comments were made during a plenary session on the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) initiative. DOV, which began five years ago, is focused on eliminating violence targeted toward women and children around the world. As participants marked the midpoint for the initiative, they reviewed what has so far occurred and what has yet to come.

Among those speaking at the plenary conference were four young people from Palestine, who shared their stories on working nonviolently to help bring peace between Israel and Palestine.

"We cannot stand still in silence," said Alfred Rock, a Palestinian from Bethlehem. He said they hoped to "break the chain of violence” through non-violent intervention.

Meanwhile, attendants received crosses made from either bullet shells in Liberia or uprooted olive trees in Palestine as symbols of both suffering and hope.