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NCC accepts World Council of Churches challenge 'to reflect global perspective'

New York, July 27, 2005 -- World Council of Churches General Secretary Dr. Samuel Kobia, speaking in Portland, Ore., at the general assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), challenged U.S. churches "to reflect a global perspective rather than an ultra-patriotic 'culture club.'"

NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar (below, right) responded with appreciation for Kobia's challenge. "The instinct of most people of faith in the U.S. is to look outward, especially to the poor and oppressed of the world," Edgar said. "Even so, we Americans are so richly blessed and have so much that it's always a temptation to retrench into a self-protecting 'culture club.'  Sam Kobia reminds us that we have so much to offer the world in the fight against hunger, disease and injustice. I appreciate his challenge to us to take some risks, to enlarge our role and increase our cooperation in the world community."

Kobia, left, said his challenge to the U.S. was first issued 40 years ago by a prominent American: Eugene Carson Blake, then WCC general secretary. Blake's insight is still relevant, Kobia said.

Kobia noted that the world is afraid of U.S. policies like the doctrine of pre-emptive war and the Bush administration's reluctance to support international initiatives against global warming, or the Millennium Development Goals. He said it is the role of the churches to "speak truth to power," even when the message is not welcome.

At the same time, he acknowledged the leading role of North American Christians in the modern ecumenical movement, and stressed the role of U.S. churches in providing an alternative voice and taking a leading role in fighting hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS, racial discrimination and violence.

But the "center of gravity" of the world-wide church is moving to the southern hemisphere, and Kobia suggested that North American churches "need to adjust to a new position within the wider church of Jesus Christ."

Kobia also expressed concern about the spread of "para-church" organizations in the U.S. that proclaim a "so-called 'prosperity gospel,' based on assumptions of free market economics." Kobia warned against "the confusing of preaching Christ with the proclamation of American cultural values."

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a member of both the National Council of Churches USA and the World Council of Churches. The National Council of Churches is composed of 36 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and peace communions representing 45 million Christians in 100,000 local congregations in the United States. The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of 347 churches in more than 120 countries in all continents.

Click here for the full text of Kobia's speech.

WCC Pictures.

Contact NCC News, Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252,; Leslie Tune, 202-544-2350

Also contact Juan Michel, +41 22 791 6153, or +41 79 507 6363 (Geneva, Switzerland),




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