U.N. Chief Reaffirms Importance of Church Relations

The United Nations and the World Council of Churches reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate at a meeting earlier this week at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon expressed "deep appreciation for the work of the WCC," especially in the areas of democracy and human rights, according to the global church body.

The WCC, which represents more than 560 million Christians, met with the U.N. secretary-general on Monday at the beginning of the WCC's United Nations Advocacy Week, Oct. 29-Nov. 2.

"As the U.N. faces the 21st century highlighting the interrelatedness of development, security and human rights, the WCC strongly believes multilateralism is the only way to respond to the challenges of today," said WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia at the meeting.

That is why the WCC is committed "to the principles and purposes of the U.N."

Common agenda discussed included climate change, nuclear disarmament, the struggle for peace in the Middle East, and efforts to overcome poverty and economic injustice among other issues.

"It was a good and constructive first meeting as both leaders expressed their desire to continue strong and close collaboration," said the Rev. Christopher Ferguson, WCC representative to the United Nations in New York.

The meeting was attended by some 80 church leaders, policy and advocacy officers of churches and ecumenical organizations from all over the world.

Earlier in October the U.N. head also met with Christian leaders in a historic event that brought together evangelical leaders from around the world.

Ban was invited to speak about the U.N. Millennium Development Goals and had highlighted the common social concerns of the United Nations and the evangelical community.

"More than ever, we need the National Association of Evangelicals, the Micah Challenge and others in the faith communities to help the goals to be achieved," Ban said at the Global Leaders Dinner hosted by the NAE and Micah Challenge USA.

"Your engagement can push governments to follow through on their commitments," he had said.

Ban was the first U.N. secretary general to speak at an NAE summit.

At the U.N.-church meeting this week, WCC's general secretary announced the council's intention to propose that the United Nations declare a "Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace." The proposal will be submitted to the United Nations in the coming year.

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