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NCC joining world summit of religious leaders


Moscow, Russia-June 9, 2006-The National Council of Churches USA met here with representatives of six major religious traditions from 28 countries to plan the World Summit of Religious Leaders that will take place in Moscow July 3-5 two weeks prior to the St. Petersburg G8 summit. 

The group, convened in late May at the invitation of the Interreligious Council of Russia, was hosted by the Russian Orthodox Church in the Moscow Patriarchate.  It included Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, the NCC USA's associate general secretary for international affairs and peace, and representatives of other Christian faith groups as well as Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu leaders. 

"It is very important for the powerful world leaders meeting later this summer to hear from a broad cross-section of the world's religious leaders," said Dr. Kireopoulos.  "We want to make sure the G8 leaders hear the concerns of religious communities around the globe," he said on returning to his New York City office. 

The G8 summit is attended by the leaders of the world's top economic powers -- the U.S., Russia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.  

"Ways of overcoming terrorism and extremism" was one of many potential topics for the summit listed in a communique from the planning group for the meeting next month.   Other challenges they listed as topics were overcoming poverty, morality in economy, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, respect for other religious traditions, human rights and ecological responsibility.  Communicating these concerns to political leaders illustrates the fundamental role that faith plays in today's societies. 

"The role of religion in public life around the world has always been important though recognition of its role is only now coming into focus again," said Dr. Kireopoulos.  "Faith leaders can offer the moral touchstone for political leaders as they come together to make their decisions about the stewardship of this planet and all its peoples," he said. 

The NCC will be represented at the July summit by Bishop Vicken Aykazian, president-elect of the NCC and a bishop in the Armenian Orthodox Church and by the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, chair of the NCC's Justice and Advocacy Commission.  Kinnamon, a St. Louis resident, member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and professor of mission, peace and ecumenical studies at Eden Theological Seminary.  

The religious leaders attending the planning meeting came from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the Vatican. 

"There was an incredible spirit of cooperation within this planning group," said Dr. Kireopoulos.  "It is inspiring to see people of such varied faiths and backgrounds go beyond their many differences and come together for a common purpose, the common good of all humankind and the planet we all inhabit."  

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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