NEWS from the National Council of Churches, USA
Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2252  |  E-mail news@ncccusa.org   |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home


Iraq Crisis: U.S., European Churches to Discuss Common Response

WHAT/WHY: On February 5, 2003, in Berlin -- just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council in New York City -- a delegation from the National Council of Churches in the United States (NCC) will join church leaders from across Europe and from the Middle East Council of Churches for an urgent meeting to consider a cooperative response to avert military action against Iraq.

For the National Council of Churches, participation in the Berlin meeting will be followed by NCC-organized visits to four more European capitals as part of the U.S. ecumenical body’s search for peaceful solutions to the Iraq crisis. Upcoming visits include Paris (Feb. 10-11), Moscow (tentatively Feb. 13-14), Rome (Feb. 25-26) and London (TBA). U.S. church leaders also are seeking a meeting with President Bush.

WHEN/WHERE: On the group’s schedule in Berlin, Germany, February 5, 2003:

* 8:30-12:30: United States, European Church Leaders Meet, Office of the Plenipotentionary (Bevollmächtigter) of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD) to the Federal Government (closed to media).

* 12:30: Prayer Service, French Church (Friedrichstadtkirche (French Dom)) at the "Berlin Gendarmenmarkt" (open to media).

* 14:00: News Conference, in the building of the "Evangelischen Akademie" in the French Church. Speakers will include the Rev. Dr. Bob W. Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches (USA); the Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, General Secretary, World Council of Churches; the Rev. Dr. Keith Clements, General Secretary, Conference of European Churches, and Präses Manfred Kock, Chairman, Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD).

* 17:00: Meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (closed to media).

DETAILS: Three U.S. church leaders, including the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, will join European church leaders in Berlin Wednesday (February 5) for "an urgent one-day meeting" on Iraq.

Forging a common and consistent response by churches to the threat of military action in Iraq is the goal of Wednesday’s meeting. The meeting is convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC), in response to an initiative by the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), and in consultation with the Conference of European Churches (CEC).

The U.S. leaders attending the meeting are the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches - www.ncccusa.org; James Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church - www.umc.org; and Dr. Rebecca Larson, Executive Director, Division for Church and Society, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - www.elca.org

The U.S. and European church leaders are scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after their meeting on Wednesday.

Peter Weiderud, coordinator of the WCC International Affairs team, said the church leaders were invited to the meeting because "the crisis in Iraq is moving into a new, even more critical, phase" since the weapons' inspectors' first report to the UN Security Council on Monday, January 27.

Emphasizing that Europe has an "extremely significant role" in the present crisis, he stated that the meeting would be "valuable both for individual churches as well as for the ecumenical movement as a whole, in order to prevent an humanitarian catastrophe and the far-reaching implications a possible war would have on the region as well as internationally."

In addition to the U.S. delegation, additional participants in Wednesday’s meeting include:

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, General Secretary, World Council of Churches (www.wcc-coe.org)

Rev. Dr Keith Clements, General Secretary, Conference of European Churches (www.cec-kek.org)

Präses Manfred Kock, Chairman, Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (www.ekd.de)

Bishop Dr. Walter Klaiber, head of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Deutschland (ACK) (www.oekumene-ack.de), and Evangelical-Methodist Church (Germany) (www.emk.de)

Rev. Dr Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of the Protestant Federation of France (www.protestants.org)

Bishop Mag. Herwig Sturm, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions in Austria (www.evang.at)

Rev. Thomas Wipf, president of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (www.sek-feps.ch/index.php)

Bishop Jonas Jonsson, Bishop of the Church of Sweden and Rev. Kjell Jonasson, Church of Sweden (www.svenskakyrkan.se)

Rev. Canon Dr Trond Bakkevig, Church of Norway (www.kirken.no)

Archbishop Jukka Parma, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (www.evl.fi)

Bischop Karsten Nissen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (www.folkekirken.dk)

Dr. Alison Elliot, Church of Scotland and Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS) (www.churchofscotland.org.uk)

Rev Arie W. van der Plas, Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and Uniting Protestant Churches in the Netherlands (www.unitingprotestantchurches.nl )

Archbishop Feofan, Russian Orthodox Church, archbishop of Berlin and Germany (www.r-o-k.de)

Bishop Athanasius of Achaja, Church of Greece) (www.ecclesia.gr)

Rev. Dr. Nuhad Daoud Tomeh, representing the General Secretariat of the Middle East Council of Churches (www.mecchurches.org)

__________

The World Council of Churches (WCC), with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions.

The National Council of Churches (USA), with headquarters in New York City, is the leading ecumenical agency in the United States. Its 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member churches comprise 50 million adherents in 140,000 local congregations.

-end-

MEDIA PLEASE RSVP TO THE EKD - pressestelle@ekd.de or fax 0511/27/96/777 -- with your name, affiliation, contact information and on-site coverage plans.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

* WCC/Geneva & On-Site in Berlin: Sara Speicher, Communication Officer, Tel: (41 22) 791 6398; Mobile: (41 79) 507-6363.

* NCC/New York: Carol Fouke, Media Liaison, Tel: (1 212) 870-2252/2227.

* WCC/New York: Philip E. Jenks, Communications Officer, 212-870-3193. 


About the National Council of Churches
NCC Home Page