The World Council of Churches (WCC) International Affairs and Advocacy Week ended on Friday, 19, 2004, with a call on churches throughout the world to play a critical role in advocacy in 2005.
"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 Nov. 14-19 Week final sessions.
Emphasis throughout the week was placed on areas of concern, such as Iraq, Sudan and North Korea, where humanitarian and advocacy needs are among the greatest. Key leaders in the field of international affairs helped explain the situation in those regions and urged the conference attendees to take action.
The advocacy week, which took place in New York City, offered 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, according to the WCC.
Jitka Krausova, the general secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, said the advocacy week allowed the WCC and the CCIA an opportunity to explain their works and struggles for peace around the world.
Rev. Dr Nuhad Tomeh of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) agreed, saying the week gave him hope for a better future in his region.
"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 Tomeh, the associate general Secretary of the MECC.
At that light, Ms Sharon Bradshaw of the Caribbean Conference of Churches said the week also offered a time to sculpt possible ways to maintain peace through the actions of churches together.
"The UN Advocacy Week helps us create a roadmap of possibilities for actions and efforts in the coming year," said Bradshaw.
Peter Weiderud agreed, saying the church must be able to see the reality of the situations but at the same time be able to grasp onto the hope that comes through the Gospel.
"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 movements commitment to promoting a just, peaceful, participatory and sustainable world order," concluded Weiderud during the weeks last session.