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Pope to pray with NCC leaders
and member communions

New York, April 1, 2008 Leaders and member communions of the National Council of Churches USA are extending a warm welcome to Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff visits the United States April 15-20.

NCC President Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, General Secretary Dr. Michael Kinnamon and Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC senior program director for Faith and Order and Interfaith Relations, will join the pope in an ecumenical prayer service April 18 at St. Joseph's Church in the Yorkville area of Manhattan.

Also included among the 250 national and local Protestant and Orthodox leaders are heads of NCC member communions. A preliminary list of church leaders participating in the prayer service includes:

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.

Archbishop Demetrios of America, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Bishop C. Christopher Epting, representing Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church.

Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America.

Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Rev. Dr. Donald McCoid, representing Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Bishop Jeremiah J. Park, Bishop of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Bishop James Leggett, General Superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Dr. Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Leaders from the New York area who will greet the pope include Elder Bernice A. King, the youngest child of Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King; the Rev. Jimmy Seong G. Lim, executive director of the Council of Churches of the City of New York; and the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

The papal trip with be Pope Benedict's first apostolic visit to the U.S. since he was elected the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005.

The pope has planned a busy itinerary, beginning with his welcome at Andrews Air Force Base April 15 by President and Mrs. Bush. The pontiff departs April 20 from John F. Kennedy airport in New York.

For more information about the Papal Visit, see

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228,

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