Church Leaders Press Obama to Deliver Change

Leaders of two dozen U.S. churches will call on President-elect Barack Obama to lead the nation towards peace and justice this week during the annual meeting of the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches (WCC), which begins on Tuesday.

Citing Obama's campaign promise of hope and change, the Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, WCC President from North America, said the Council's member churches in the United States are "eager" to share a "special word" with the president-elect that outlines hopes that the nation will move away from the current context of "war and want and waste."

The meeting will address, among other issues, the ethical dimensions of climate change and the ecumenical involvement in Middle East peace-making.

Representatives from WCC member churches in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and Europe will also join the meeting to express solidarity with the message of the U.S. churches, and bring their own messages of hope to the newly elected U.S. president.

They will also share stories of peacemaking from their home regions and "Blessed are the Peacemakers Awards" will be presented to local, national and global peacemaking initiatives and individuals.

Featured speakers during the three-day meeting include: Dr Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr professor of social ethics at the Union Theological Seminary (emeritus); the Rev. Dr Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; Dr Rodney Sadler, associate professor of Bible at the Union Theological Seminary; Dr Elizabeth Ferris, co-director, the Brookings Institution; the Rev. Eric Fistler, former U.S. national coordinator of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel; and the Rev. Baranite Kirata, secretary for justice and development of the Kiribati Protestant Church, South Pacific.

A public ecumenical service will be co-hosted by the National City Christian Church and the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The three-day gathering will conclude on Thursday.