Church leaders from around the world heard real stories of injustice based on India’s caste system at a conference in Bangkok this week, where several leaders issued strong statements against the ancient system of discrimination.
“Governments that exclude a whole section of [their] own citizens – or allow them to be so treated – are incompetent to govern," wrote the Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, in a statement read out at the conference on his behalf, according to the World Council of Churches. "And members of the international community that know but ignore the issue are accomplices to the systemic violations of human rights resulting from this unjust system."
The Global Ecumenical Conference on Justice for Dalits, held on March 21-24, examined the 3,500-year-old caste system that continues to be practiced despite India’s constitution guaranteeing equal rights for all. The conference was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in partnership with the Christian Conference of Asia. more >>
Top leaders of U.S.-based National Council of Churches recently met in Shanghai with leaders of China’s official church bodies for discussions that included a partnership to raise the issue of climate change with their respective governments.
NCC president the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon and general secretary H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian traveled to China in late February to meet with representatives of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China (TSPM). It was the first time both an NCC president and general secretary had traveled together to China.
During their Feb. 26 meeting, the three major church bodies were able to affirm a mutual desire to engage in an “even deeper working relationship” that allows them to “consult regularly” with each other and to “speak and act together in response to contemporary issues,” according to an NCC USA report. more >>
LONDON – Christians across the United Kingdom may have prayed to become one this past week, but church unity at the national level remains an unlikely prospect, say the leaders of the nation’s main denominations.
The heads of the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic and United Reformed Churches spoke candidly last week of a loss of impetus in national efforts to bring about unity in their personal responses to questions put to them by the Church Times and Baptist Times.
“There is still at grassroots a great enthusiasm for unity,” acknowledged Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, but also “a fair amount of impatience with denominational structures that are seen as failing to deliver it.” more >>
More than 300 leaders and members of various faith communities are proclaiming a message of peace and reconciliation and calling all churches across denominations to also take the message to the world.
"Radical peacemaking is usually associated with one segment of the Christian community: the Historic Peace Churches," the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said earlier this week. "What I am stressing, however, is that radical, costly, insistent peacemaking is not simply your witness. Peace is the message of the church ecumenical!"
Kinnamon was making his address at the "Heeding God's Call: A Gathering on Peace" meeting in Philadelphia. The Jan. 13-17 meeting, convened by the Historic Peace Churches – the Religious Society of Friends, the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church – has brought together an ecumenical group representing more than 15 faith communities with the aim of strengthening their witness. more >>
South Korea’s Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders have together declared 2009 as the Year of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The Catholic bishops’ Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) announced last week that South Korean churches will hold ecumenical activities such as prayer services, forums and exchanges throughout this year.
“During 2009 we hope all Christians in Korea find their mission to be ‘salt and light’ in the world,” said the Christian leaders in a joint statement released at the press conference on Dec. 29, according to the Union of Catholic Asian News. more >>
Christian leaders across denominational lines are signing onto an ecumenical letter that urges President-elect Barack Obama to make Israel-Palestinian peace a priority in his incoming administration.
“The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has gone on for too long. It has caused untold suffering for both sides, created economic hardships, and provided a rallying cry for extremists,” the letter signed by 40 U.S. Christian leaders read.
“As people of faith and hope, we believe peace is possible,” it stated. “Majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians continue to support a negotiated solution based on two secure and sovereign states as the best way to end this tragic conflict.” more >>