World Council of Churches -
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
For immediate release:
29 May 2007
Churches worldwide to advocate for just peace in Palestine and Israel, 3-9 June 2007
To highlight the urgency of peace in Palestine and Israel after 40 years of occupation, the World Council of Churches (WCC), member churches and related organizations are organizing a week of prayers, seminars and advocacy to mark this June's anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The goal of the week is to raise awareness in churches and civil society and to impress upon governments the need for new efforts to end the conflict and negotiate a just settlement.
Participants from Australia to Sweden and Canada to South Africa are organizing peace walks, meeting their governments or staging public forums. An ecumenical service will be held in Jerusalem on Sunday, June 3, to start the week.
In the US, church groups are joining mass public demonstrations. In Brussels and other European capitals, Pax Christi members are part of joint Roman Catholic delegations to the European Union and member governments. In South Africa, the national broadcaster has been asked to hold talk shows with ecumenical accompaniers, WCC volunteers who have lived with those affected by the occupation. In Sydney, an inter-faith prayer service will be followed by the planting of an olive tree with the local Palestinian community. Participation in most of the week's events is open to people of different faiths.
In some places, especially the Nordic countries, church events related to Middle East peace are routine. Other churches are taking action for the first time as part of this WCC initiative.
The initiative is called
International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 3-9 June 2007
Events are known to be taking place in 14 countries with news still coming in from the 100-plus countries in the membership of the WCC and Pax Christi as well as the Lutheran World Federation, which has endorsed the initiative.
The Jerusalem prayers and readings, distributed around the world, have raised the widest interest. In the Philippines, the Netherlands and scattered congregations in Australia, for example, parishes using the service are likely to generate wide participation. Many see it as a special form of solidarity with those living their 40th year of occupation and plan to hold services at the same time as Jerusalem.
The search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians has been on the agenda of WCC governing bodies since 1948. Judging from the frequency with which it arises, its importance to member churches has only grown as conflict and crisis continue.
Jonathan Frerichs +41-76-205-7428
Additional information about national events of International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 3-9 June 2007 as well as other resources are available at:
Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.