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GUESTS FROM CENTRAL AMERICA, KOREA, EUROPE
ADDRESS NCC EXECUTIVE BOARD, EXPRESS SYMPATHY

NEW YORK CITY, October 1, 2001 -- Representatives of Central American, Korean and Italian church bodies that are long-time partners of the National Council of Churches and its global humanitarian ministry, Church World Service, brought their sympathy for the loss and trauma of September 11 to the NCC’s October 1-2 Executive Board meeting here.

Speaking on behalf of the Central American group, Noemi Espinosa, Director of the Christian Development Committee in Honduras and Vice President of the Latin America Council of Churches, said, "Our hearts are heavy with sorrow for the loss of human life as a result of the terrible tragedies in New York City; Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania."

Expressing her empathy for all in the nation and especially the families and friends of those who died, she continued, "After the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, it was difficult for us to cope with the loss and the new reality we were facing. The God of Life helped us through those days and weeks. We felt a sense of community.

"We are very thankful for the solidarity you’ve put in place for us when we really needed it," Ms. Espinosa said, citing the hundreds of mission teams whose presence communicated "the message that life can be lived under more dignified conditions."

She urged U.S. churches to work for peace and to continue to promote dialogue. "What’s needed to cultivate world peace may seem overwhelming, but we need to move ahead with more soul than ever with small but concrete actions," Ms. Espinosa said.

Accompanying Ms. Espinosa, a member of the Christian Reformed Church, were the Rev. Vitalino Similox, Presbyterian, General Secretary of the Evangelical Council of Guatemalan Churches, and Prof. Benajamin Cortes, a member of Nicaragua’s United Church of Christ and Director of the Center for Theological and Social Studies.

The Rev. Kim Dong Wan, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Korea (Seoul), offered "Korean churches’ message of comfort to the victims of September 11. We pray for you in your determination that such a tragic event not happen again. We share in your suffering at this moment of crisis.

"Koreans (support) the effort to end terrorism and realize justice," the Rev. Kim said. "Nonetheless we do not agree with any war or further killing."

Hubert van Beek, representing the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Council of Churches, and Franco Gianficolli of the Council of the Protestant Federation of Churches in Italy, also brought greetings.

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