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1999 NCC News Archives

Religious Leaders Delegation Has Arrived in Belgrade
Group Led by Joan Campbell, Jesse Jackson Reaches Hotel 9 P.M. Local Time
Friday/Saturday Schedule Now Being Finalized

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, April 29 ---- A delegation of Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders arrived here this evening (9 p.m. local time) to pursue a humanitarian mission that is to include meetings with Yugoslav religious leaders and with the three captured U.S. soldiers.

"We are pleased to be here as a sign of respect for and solidarity with the religious community of Belgrade," said the Rev. Dr. Joan B. Campbell, General Secretary of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches, the delegation’s co-leader. "We look forward to meeting with them and affirming their moral leadership in this present crisis."

Emphasized the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder and President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, delegation co-leader with Dr. Campbell, "This is not a political mission, this is indeed a journey of faith."

Both Jackson and Campbell emphasized the role religious communities can play in providing an alternative route for discussion and dialogue in difficult times. "Even when governments are at odds with each other, faith communities can provide a link between the people," Dr. Campbell said. "Our group is glad to be here and eager to begin its work."

Jackson kept emphasizing three points that resonate with the religious leaders: the need to stop the violence in Kosovo, to assist refugees to return to their homes, and for an international force to protect both Serbs and ethnic Albanians alike.

As the interfaith delegation arrived at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Belgrade they discovered a billboard on the corner near the hotel. On that billboard was a beautifully decorated egg, which in the Orthodox faith is usually a sign of Easter and resurrection. In bold letters across the top, the billboard said, "Christ is risen." And on the bottom, "They believe in bombs, we believe in God."

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