A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deception

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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:42 am

William Sloane Coffin
by World Council of Churches
13 April 2006



Clergy and Laity Concerned is a nationwide network within the religious community which was founded to mobilize opposition to U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia. In late 1965, John C. Bennett, William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Rabbi Abraham Heschel and others organized the National Emergency Committee of Clergy Concerned About Vietnam.

This committee soon developed a national organization of Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant clergymen and laymen which was known as Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV). Richard R. Fernandez was hired as Executive Secretary in 1966, continuing in that capacity or as Co-Director until 1973. Others who have served as Director or Co-Director include Richard M. Boardman, John Collins, Robert S. Lecky, Barbara Lupo, Don Luce, Richard Van Voorhis, and Trudi Schutz Young.

-- Clergy and Laity Concerned Records, 1965-1983, Swarthmore College Peace Collection


"One of the 20th century's great Christian pastors and activists for peace and justice" is how World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia describes US clergyman Rev. Dr William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who died on 12 April 2006, in a tribute issued on Maundy Thursday, April 13, 2006.

The full text of Kobia tribute follows:

I write to express my sympathy at the loss of William Sloane Coffin, who will be profoundly missed by many of us throughout the world.

The Rev. Dr William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who died yesterday in the United States, was one of the 20th century's great Christian pastors and activists for peace and justice. His life reflected an understanding of ministry that he once described in these words: "Every minister is given two roles, the prophetic and the priestly." And so he sought racial reconciliation through civil rights legislation, saw himself during the cold war years as "very anti-Soviet, but very pro-Russian", conducted a "lover's quarrel" with his own country's foreign and nuclear policies, opened the eyes of students, parishioners and readers to the demands of the gospel on every aspect of life. So, too, he taught that "the greatest danger each of us faces comes not from our enemies, but from our enmity".

Dr Coffin was aware of the World Council of Churches from before its inception in 1948. His uncle Henry Sloane Coffin, then president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was one of the founding intellects behind the Council and a guiding influence in the establishment of its Ecumenical Institute for graduate study in Bossey, Switzerland. His theological mentors, Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, led him to view God's calling in a framework that transcended national, cultural and denominational boundaries. William Sloane Coffin would continue these traditions in ecumenical circles through his years as chaplain of Yale University, pastor of Riverside Church in New York and leader of movements including the civil rights struggle, anti-war protest and the lobby for a nuclear freeze. His voice was one that we heard clearly, and heeded.

He was arrested several times in the pursuit of social righteousness. On one of these occasions, while demonstrating for the desegregation of an amusement park in Baltimore on July 4, 1963, he was one of nine US religious leaders taken into custody. Arrested in company with Coffin that day was Eugene Carson Blake, another minister of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA. Less than three years later, Gene Blake would become the second general secretary of the World Council of Churches. They remained friends and confidants to the end of Blake's life. In fact, William Sloane Coffin has been greatly admired by every one of the WCC's general secretaries.

Upon graduating in 1949, Coffin entered the Union Theological Seminary, where he remained for a year, until the outbreak of the Korean War reignited his interest in fighting against communism. He joined the CIA as a case officer in 1950 (his brother-in-law Franklin Lindsay had been head of the Office of Policy Coordination at the OSS, one of the predecessors of the CIA) spending three years in West Germany recruiting anti-Soviet Russian refugees and training them how to undermine Stalin's regime.

-- William Sloane Coffin, by Wikipedia

Dear Mr. Lavergne:

This letter is to appeal the response of 15 April neither confirming nor denying the existence of records of CIA contact with or briefing of the members of a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ which visited Moscow in March 1956.

The 1949 CIA Act, as amended, and the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, provide for the protection of intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure. Invoking these protections is moot, and the existence of the records, along with the records themselves, should be declassified and released, as:

1) The intelligence sources are all deceased. No active CIA operation could be endangered through the release of information about these men:

Decatur Ward Nichols, died January 24, 2005.
Henry Knox Sherrill, died May 11, 1980.

Eugene Carson Blake, died July 31, 1985.
Charles Parlin, died November 15, 1981.
Walter Van Kirk, died July 6, 1956.
Herbert Gezork, died October 1984.
Roswell Barnes, died December 21, 1990.
Franklin Clark Fry, died June 6, 1968.
Paul B. Anderson, died June 26, 1985.

2) The chief targets of the intelligence collection in question are deceased. No active CIA operation could be endangered through the release of information about these men:

Metropolitan Nikolai, died December 13, 1961.
Patriarch Alexei, died April 17, 1970....

3) The method in question -– contacting and cultivating religious figures as sources of foreign intelligence -– has been acknowledged by the CIA for the past 40 years....

In 1996, Rodney I Page, deputy secretary general of the NCCC, testified before Congress that even suspected CIA use of religious workers as intelligence assets undermined the workers’ credibility, and placed their lives in danger. He added that it was widely known that the CIA operated under a general ban on such use of religious workers and clergy, but could authorize exceptions to the ban. The substance of CIA methodology is known. [http://archive.org/stream/ciasuseofjournal00unit/ciasuseofjournal00unit_djvu.txt]


Dear Mr. Staniunas:

The Agency Release Panel considered your petition and fully denied your administrative appeal in accordance with Agency regulations set forth in Part 1900 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

-- CIA FOIA for 1956 Eugene Carson Blake briefing (f2015-01266), by David Staniunas

Dear Mr. Dulles:

As I retire from active service in the World Council of Churches at the end of this month, I find myself thinking gratefully of you and the other friends who year after year have given their loyal support in prayer and thought and money. Looking back over the forty years during which I have been associated with the movement for a greater Christian unity, I am grateful to God for the encouraging developments that have taken place both in this country and around the world. As I look ahead I have no doubt that the coming years will see a much greater advance toward a truly united Church. On the human side, it is such help as faithful friends like yourself have given that has made all this possible....

I can wish nothing happier and better than that he should have the same kind of friendly interest and support which you have shown during my years of service.

-- Letter to Allen W. Dulles, Director Central Intelligence Agency, from Samuel McCrea Cavert, The United States Conference for the WORLD COUNCIL of CHURCHES

It is near impossible to follow church money in any precise way. When Pastor Lusseau and his parishoners tried to, they found that it was being absorbed into the coffers, committees and ad hoc committees of the United Methodist Church, National Council of Churches and the World Council, and then surfacing in some surprising places. They found some of it was being spent on causes that seemed more political than religious, on causes that seemed closer to the Soviet-Cuban view of the world than Logansport, Indiana's, and they didn't like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The World Council, in particular, has become a political organization and not, as they set out, to be a fellowship of Christian organizations who accept Jesus Christ as our God and savior....

SAFER: The bureaucracy they're concerned about, indeed what many American Protestants are concerned about, is largely headquartered, 475 Riverside Drive in New York City. This building is officially known as the Inter-Church Center. The people who work in it call it the God Box. It's the home of the National Council of Churches. It's also the national headquarters for dozens of agencies attached to the United Methodists, the United Presbyterians and other Protestant churches. It's also the U.S. headquarters of the World Council of Churches, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland....

Critics feel that the National and the World Council lean toward Karl Marx when it comes to giving certain financial support.

Among the things they object to: money to NACLA, the North American Congress on Latin America, based in New York. Money from the Presbyterian Hunger Program helped NACLA publish this book, Agribusiness in the Americas, an indictment of capitalism and American agricultural corporations.

Two million dollars from the World Council went to buy heavy equipment and materials for new economic zones in Vietnam. Critics claim new economic zones are little more than forced labor camps.

After the Cuban supported revolution in Grenada, the National Council contributed money to publish a primer on the island. What was produced was a tribute to the revolution.

Another item. For a center in Nicaragua that would, quote, "serve the revolutionary reality in Latin America," unquote, $60,000 from the United Methodists.

The Cuba Resource Center received heavy financial support from the National Council member churches. It produced blatantly pro-Castro publications. And a continuing theme was to redefine Christianity in Marxist revolutionary terms.

Another item. To the Nicaraguan literacy program, $1-1/2 million from the World Council. The purpose was to raise political awareness while teaching reading. The teachers were Cuban; American teachers were not welcome.

Another item. The Conference in Solidarity with the Liberation Struggles of Southern Africa in New York was funded and organized by the United Methodists. But when it took place, according to FBI documents, it was run by the U.S. Communist Party and was entirely manipulated by the Soviet Union. The only Methodist official on the platform was the one who gave the invocation.

-- The Gospel According to Whom?: A Look at the National and World Councils of Churches, by 60 Minutes

On behalf of the ecumenical fellowship represented by the World Council of Churches, I offer thanks to God for the life, faith and courage of William Sloane Coffin. Many of us who knew him only slightly, or through his writings, or by report, join in prayer with those close friends and family members who are experiencing sorrow at his death. May the hope of the resurrection to eternal life, found at the heart of this Easter season, be with us and reassure us of God's abiding love.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

General secretary, World Council of Churches
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:21 pm

Henry Sloane Coffin
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/28/19



Dr. [William Sloane] Coffin was aware of the World Council of Churches from before its inception in 1948. His uncle Henry Sloane Coffin, then president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was one of the founding intellects behind the Council and a guiding influence in the establishment of its Ecumenical Institute for graduate study in Bossey, Switzerland.

-- William Sloane Coffin, by World Council of Churches

The Church

About 2 percent of The Order is in the Church (all Protestant denominations), although this percentage has declined in recent years.

A key penetration is the Union Theological Seminary, affiliated with Columbia University in New York. This Seminary, a past subject of investigation for Communist infiltration, has close links to The Order. Henry Sloane Coffin ('97) was Professor of Practical Theology at Union from 1904 to 1926 and President of Union Theological Seminary, also known as the "Red Seminary," from 1926 to 1945. Union has such a wide interpretation of religious activity that has, or used to have, an Atheists Club for its students.

Henry Sloane Coffin, Jr. ('49) was one of the Boston Five indicted on federal conspiracy charges.

And this is only part of The Order's penetration into the Church.

-- America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones, by Antony C. Sutton

The movement in favour of India in US received further impetus from the visit of Madame Cama as an emissary of the Indian revolutionaries from London and Paris. Arriving in New York in October 1907, Madame Cama delivered a series of lectures before American audiences, explaining to them the purpose of her visit. “I am in America”, she said, “for the sole purpose of giving a thorough expose of the British suppression which is little understood so far away and to interest the warm hearted citizens of the great Republic” in our fight for freedom against the British rule. 20 Explaining the aims of the Indian revolutionaries abroad she made it clear that it was to achieve “Swaraj; self-government” and to strive for “liberty, equality and fraternity” with the hope of getting it within ten years.

When questioned by a press correspondent as to “how this mighty overthrow was to come about,” she explained, “by passive resistance. We are peaceful people and unarmed. We could not rise and battle if we could. We are preparing our people for concentrated resistance.” 21

In the subsequent meetings, which Madame Cama addressed at the Minerva Club and at the Adams Union Theological Seminary, she asked for the help of the American people for the political enfranchisement of India. Her only regret was that the American people had knowledge about the conditions in Russia, but they had no idea about the conditions in India under the British Government. 22

It was on account of her visit and her meeting with Barkatullah and Phelps, that both the societies decided to join in 1908 and worked together for self-rule for India. 23

The ruthless policy of the Government of India to suppress the rising tide of the national movement gradually convinced Indians abroad that it was futile to carry on the struggle on constitutional lines. Madame Cama in Paris and Savarkar in London started advocating violent methods for the attainment of freedom. Their propaganda had a direct impact on the political thinking of the Indians in America. This had already been noticed by the British Consul-General. He reported that the Indians were saying in private that they had been trying for the last twenty-one years to obtain freedom by constitutional means and were now tired of that line and that their difficulty, however, was the same as that of the Irish; they had no arms. 24

-- 3: Indian Revolutionary Movement in USA and Canada The Pan-Aryan Association
Excerpt from "Indian Revolutionary Movement Abroad" (1905-1921), by Tilak Raj Sareen, M.A., Ph.D.

A number of prominent Indian revolutionaries and nationalists were associated with India House, including Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Bhikaji Cama, V.N. Chatterjee, Lala Har Dayal, V.V.S. Aiyar, M.P.T. Acharya and P.M. Bapat….

India House is a large Victorian Mansion at 65 Cromwell Avenue, Highgate, North London. It was inaugurated on 1 July 1905 by Henry Hyndman in a ceremony attended by, among others, Dadabhai Naoroji, Charlotte Despard and Bhikaji Cama….

The Paris Indian Society, a branch of the IHRS, was launched in 1905 under the patronage of Bhikaji Cama, Sardar Singh Rana and B.H. Godrej.[26] A number of India House members who later rose to prominence – including V.N. Chatterjee, Har Dayal and Acharya and others – first encountered the IHRS through this Paris Indian Society.[27] Cama herself was at this time deeply involved with the Indian revolutionary cause, and she nurtured close links with both French and exiled Russian socialists.[28][29] Lenin's views are thought to have influenced Cama's works at this time, and Lenin is believed to have visited India House during one of his stays in London.[30][31] In 1907, Cama, along with V.N. Chatterjee and S.R. Rana, attended the Socialist Congress of the Second International in Stuttgart. There, supported by Henry Hyndman, she demanded recognition of self-rule for India and in a famous gesture unfurled one of the first Flags of India.[32]….

From the time it was founded, India House cultivated a close relationship with socialist movements in Europe. Prominent Socialists of the time like Henry Hyndman were closely linked to the house. Cama cultivated a close relationship with French Socialists and Russian communists.
The IHRS delegation to Stuttgart in 1907 is known to have met with Hyndman, Karl Liebknecht, Jean Jaurès, Rosa Luxemburg and Ramsay MacDonald. Chatterjee moved to Paris in 1909 and joined the French Socialist Party.[103] M.P.T. Acharya was introduced to the socialist circle in Paris in 1910.[104]

India House, by Wikipedia

Henry Sloane Coffin
The Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin on the cover of Time magazine November 15, 1926
Born January 5, 1877
New York City
Died November 25, 1954 (aged 77)
Lakeville, Connecticut
Title President of the Union Theological Seminary
Spouse(s) Dorothy (nee Eells)
Academic background
Education Yale College, Union Theological Seminary

Henry Sloane Coffin (January 5, 1877, in New York City – November 25, 1954, in Lakeville, Connecticut) was president of the Union Theological Seminary, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and one of the most famous ministers in the United States. He was also one of the translators of the popular hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", along with John Mason Neale.[1][2]


Coffin was the son of Edmund Coffin and Euphemia Sloane. He was an heir to the fortune of the furniture firm of W. and J. Sloane & Co. His brother was William Sloane Coffin, who was later the president of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Coffin attended Yale College and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1897. In 1896, he was one of fifteen juniors invited to join the Skull and Bones. He then received his master's degree from Yale in 1900.

The gravesite of Henry Sloane Coffin

During his time at Yale, Coffin was on friendly terms with evangelist Dwight L. Moody, who devoted considerable attention to Coffin during his famous Northfield Conferences in Massachusetts. In spite of Moody's influence, Coffin would emerge as a leading theological liberal.

Coffin also obtained his Bachelor of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in 1900. He then became pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1910. He declined an offer to become president of Union Theological Seminary in 1916. In 1917, he became Chairman of the Committee of the Board of Home Missions. In 1926, offered the presidency of Union a second time, he accepted and retained the post until 1945.

Coffin was married to Dorothy Eells. He was the uncle of William Sloane Coffin, and a member of the Yale Corporation (1921–45).

Henry Sloane Coffin died in 1954 at age 77 and was interred at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, NY.



• Coffin, Henry Sloane; Vernon, Ambrose White (1910). Hymns of the Kingdom of God, with tunes. New York: Barnes. OCLC 816788.


• ——— (1911). Social Aspects of the Cross. New York: Hodder & Stoughton ; George H. Doran Company. OCLC 2025617.
• ——— (1914). University Sermons. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. OCLC 3087064.
• ——— (1915). The Ten Commandments: with a Christian application to present conditions. New York: Hodder & Stoughton ; George H. Doran Company. OCLC 24003995.
• ——— (1915). Some Christian Convictions: a practical restatement in terms of present-day thinking. New Haven, CT ; London: Yale University Press ; Oxford University Press. OCLC 2161577.
• ——— (1918). In a Day of Social Rebuilding: lectures on the ministry of the church. Lyman Beecher lectures. 44th. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. OCLC 6438204.
• ——— (1922). What is There in Religion?. New York: Macmillan. OCLC 1433526.
• ——— (1926). What to preach. New York: George H. Doran Company. OCLC 331924.
• ——— (1926). The Portraits of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. New York: Macmillan. OCLC 1015672.
• ——— (1931). The Meaning of the Cross. New York: Scribner. OCLC 5744451.
• ——— (1933). What Men are Asking: some current questions in religion. Cole lectures - 1933. Nashville, TN: Cokesbury Press. OCLC 6028333.
• ——— (1934). God's Turn. New York ; London: Harper & Bros. OCLC 3068432.
• ——— (1940). Religion Yesterday and Today. Nashville, TN: Cokesbury Press. OCLC 3297242.
• ——— (1946). The Public Worship of God: a source book. Westminster Source Books. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press. OCLC 166224.
• ——— (1947). God Confronts Man in History. New York: Scribner. OCLC 1444731.
• ——— (1952). Communion Through Preaching: the monstrance of the Gospel. George Craig Stewart Lectures. New York: Scribner. OCLC 500871.
• ——— (1954). A Half Century of Union Theological Seminary, 1896-1945: an informal history. New York: Scribner. OCLC 664803.
• ———. Bowie, Walter Russell, ed. Joy in Believing: selections from the spoken and written words and the prayers. New York: Scribner, [1956. OCLC 547760.

Articles and chapters

• ——— (1939). "Religion in the last hundred years". A Century of Social Thought: a series of lectures delivered at Duke University during the academic year 1938-1939 as a part of the centennial celebration of that institution. Duke University Publications. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. OCLC 3370775.

See also

• List of people on the cover of Time Magazine: 1920s - 15 Nov. 1926


1. ^ O Come, O Come Emmanuel on HymnSite.org
2. ^ O Come, O Come Emmanuel Archived 2010-11-04 at the Wayback Machine on WorshipTutorials

External links

• Works by Henry Sloane Coffin at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Henry Sloane Coffin at Internet Archive
• Henry Sloane Coffin on NNDB
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:35 pm

Documents from WCC assemblies since 1948
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

Please note that only few of the documents from assemblies held prior to the invention of the internet are currently available. None of the documents from the WCC 2nd Assembly, held in Evanston in 1954, is available in electronic format so far.

Amsterdam, 1948
New Delhi, 1961
Uppsala, 1968
Nairobi, 1975
Vancouver, 1983
Canberra, 1991
Harare, 1998
Porto Alegre, 2006
Busan, 2013
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:41 pm

Amsterdam, 1948
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

Amsterdam Assembly 1948 Extracts from Report of Committee IV CONCERNS OF THE CHURCHES - THE EMERGENCE OF ISRAEL AS A STATE

Concerns of the churches - The emergence of Israel as a state
Amsterdam Assembly 1948
01 August 1948

Extracts from Report of Committee IV

On the Political aspects of the Palestine problem and the complex conflict of "rights" involved we do not undertake to express a judgement. Nevertheless, we appeal to the nations to deal with the problem not as one of expediency - political, strategic or economic - but as a moral and spiritual question that touches a nerve centre of the world's religious life.

Whatever position may be taken towards the establishment of a Jewish state and towards the "rights" and "wrongs" of Jews and Arabs, of Hebrew Christians and Arab Christians involved, the churches are in duty bound to pray and work for an order in Palestine as just as may be in the midst of our human disorder; to provide within their power for the relief of the victims of this warfare without discrimination; and to seek to influence the nations to provide a refuge for "displaced persons" far more generously than has yet been done.


Resolution proposed by the Committee on Christian Reconstruction and Inter-Church Aid of the Amsterdam Assembly:

The World Council of Churches, recalling that the origin of its refugee division was the concern of the churches for Jewish refugees, notes with especially deep concern the recent extension of the refugee problem to the Middle East by the flight from their homes in the Holy Land of not less than 350,000 Arab and other refugees.

It receives, with an urgent sense of its Christian duty, the appeal which originally came from Christian leaders in Palestine. It records appreciation of the prompt co-operation offered by the UN mediator in Palestine with the projects of relief initiated by the churches and interchurch bodies, and in commending the actions in this field already taken.


To urge the churches to include in their provisions for refugees additional emergency help for the urgent situation in the Middle East, and to channel this help in such a way as both to achieve a distinctive and maximum Christian effort in this field, and to ensure its co-ordination with the measures initiated;

To recommend that, through its refugee commission, the World Council of Churches should:

1. Appeal for money, food, medical supplies, and blankets;
2. In connection with the International Missionary Council, appoint a special field representative to co-ordinate Christian action with the mediator's programme;
3. Urge and assist all Christians in Palestine and neighbouring countries to cooperate in this work in every way practicable.

Amsterdam Assembly 1948 Extracts from Report of Committee IV CONCERNS OF THE CHURCHES: 3. THE CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO THE JEWS

Concerns of the churches - The Christian approach to the Jews
by World Council of Churches
01 August 1948

Extracts from Report of Committee IV


The Report was received by the Assembly and commended to the churches for their serious consideration and appropriate action.


A concern for the Christian approach to the Jewish people confronts us inescapably, as we meet together to look with open and penitent eyes on man's disorder and to rediscover together God's eternal purpose for His Church. This concern is ours because it is first a concern of God made known to us in Christ. No people in His one world have suffered more bitterly from the disorder of man than the Jewish people. We cannot forget that we meet in a land from which 110,000 Jews were taken to be murdered. Nor can we forget that we meet only five years after the extermination of 6 million Jews. To the Jews our God has bound us in a special solidarity linking our destinies together in His design. We call upon all our churches to make this concern their own as we share with them the results of our too brief wrestling with it.

1. The Church's commission to preach the Gospel to all men

All of our churches stand under the commission of our common Lord, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." The fulfilment of this commission requires that we include the Jewish people in our evangelistic task.

2. The special meaning of the Jewish people for Christian faith

In the design of God, Israel has a unique position. It was Israel with whom God made His covenant by the call of Abraham. It was Israel to whom God revealed His name and gave His law. It was to Israel that He sent His Prophets with their message of judgment and of grace. It was Israel to whom He promised the coming of His Messiah. By the history of Israel God prepared the manger in which in the fulness of time He put the Redeemer of all mankind, Jesus Christ. The Church has received this spiritual heritage from Israel and is therefore in honour bound to render it back in the light of the Cross. We have, therefore, in humble conviction to proclaim to the Jews, "The Messiah for Whom you wait has come." The promise has been fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ.

For many the continued existence of a Jewish people which does not acknowledge Christ is a divine mystery which finds its only sufficient explanation in the purpose of God's unchanging faithfulness and mercy (Romans xi, 25-29).

3. Barriers to be overcome

Before our churches can hope to fulfil the commission laid upon us by our Lord there are high barriers to be overcome. We speak here particularly of the barriers which we have too often helped to build and which we alone can remove.

We must acknowledge in all humility that too often we have failed to manifest Christian love towards our Jewish neighbours, or even a resolute will for common social justice. We have failed to fight with all our strength the age-old disorder of man which anti-semitism represents. The churches in the past have helped to foster an image of the Jews as the sole enemies of Christ, which has contributed to anti-semitism in the secular world. In many lands virulent anti-semitism still threatens and in other lands the Jews are subjected to many indignities.

We call upon all the churches we represent to denounce anti-semitism, no matter what its origin, as absolutely irreconcilable with the profession and practice of the Christian faith. Anti-Semitism is sin against God and man.

Only as we give convincing evidence to our Jewish neighbours that we seek for them the common rights and dignities which God wills for His children, can we come to such a meeting with them as would make it possible to share with them the best which God has given us in Christ.

4. The Christian witness to the Jewish people

In spite of the universality of our Lord's commission and of the fact that the first mission of the Church was to the Jewish people, our churches have with rare exceptions failed to maintain that mission. This responsibility should not be left largely to independent agencies. The carrying on of this mission by special agencies has often meant the singling out of the Jews for special missionary attention, even in situations where they might well have been included in the normal ministry of the Church. It has also meant in many cases that the converts are forced into segregated spiritual fellowship rather than being included and welcomed in the regular membership of the Church.

Owing to this failure our churches must consider the responsibility for missions to the Jews as a normal part of parish work, especially in those countries where Jews are members of the general community. Where there is no indigenous church or where the indigenous church is insufficient for this task it may be necessary to arrange for a special missionary ministry from abroad.

Because of the unique inheritance of the Jewish people, the churches should make provision for the education of ministers specially fitted for this task. Provision should also be made for Christian literature to interpret the Gospel to Jewish people.

Equally, it should be made clear to church members that the strongest argument in winning others for Christ is the radiance and contagion of victorious living and the outgoing of God's love expressed in personal human contacts. As this is expressed and experienced in a genuine Christian fellowship and community the impact of the Gospel will be felt. For such a fellowship there will be no difference between a converted Jew and other church members, all belonging to the same church and fellowship through Jesus Christ. But the converted Jew calls for particular tenderness and full acceptance just because his coming into the Church carries with it often a deeply wounding break with family and friends.

In reconstruction and relief activities the churches must not lose sight of the plight of Christians of Jewish origin, in view of their special suffering. Such provision must be made for their aid as will help them to know that they are not forgotten in the Christian fellowship.

5. The emergence of Israel as a state

The establishment of the state "Israel" adds a political dimension to the Christian approach to the Jews and threatens to complicate anti-semitism with political fears and enmities.

On the political aspects of the Palestine problem and the complex conflict of "rights" involved we do not undertake to express a judgment. Nevertheless, we appeal to the nations to deal with the problem not as one of expediency—political, strategic or economic—but as a moral and spiritual question that touches a nerve centre of the world's religious life.

Whatever position may be taken towards the establishment of a Jewish state and towards the "rights" and "wrongs" of Jews and Arabs, of Hebrew Christians and Arab Christians involved, the churches are in duty bound to pray and work for an order in Palestine as just as may be in the midst of our human disorder; to provide within their power for the relief of the victims of this warfare without discrimination; and to seek to influence the nations to provide a refuge for "Displaced Persons" far more generously than has yet been done.


We conclude this report with the recommendations which arise out of our first exploratory consideration of this "concern" of the churches.

1. To the member churches of the World Council we recommend:

that they seek to recover the universality of our Lord's commission by including the Jewish people in their evangelistic work;

that they encourage their people to seek for brotherly contact with and understanding of their Jewish neighbours, and co-operation in agencies combating misunderstanding and prejudice;

that in mission work among the Jews they scrupulously avoid all unworthy pressures or inducements;

that they give thought to the preparation of ministers well fitted to interpret the Gospel to Jewish people and to the provision of literature which will aid in such a ministry.

2. To the World Council of Churches we recommend:

that it should give careful thought as to how it can best stimulate and assist the member churches in the carrying out of this aspect of their mission;

that it give careful consideration to the suggestion made by the International Missionary Council that the World Council of Churches share with it a joint responsibility for the Christian approach to the Jews;

that it be RESOLVED

That, in receiving the report of this Committee, the Assembly recognise the need for more detailed study by the World Council of Churches of the many complex problems which exist in the field of relations between Christians and Jews, and in particular of the following:

(a) the historical and present factors which have contributed to the growth and persistence of anti-semitism, and the most effective means of combating this evil;

(b) the need and opportunity in this present historical situation for the development of co-operation between Christians and Jews in civic and social affairs;

(c) the many and varied problems created by establishment of a State of Israel in Palestine.

The Assembly therefore asks that these and related questions be referred to the Central Committee for further examination.
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:45 pm

New Delhi, 1961
by World council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

New Delhi Statement on Unity

This is the report of the Section on Unity at the WCC 3rd Assembly. Particularly in paragraph 2 -- probably the greatest run-on sentence in ecumenical history -- we have one of the seminal and enduring statements on the nature of "organic unity".

New Delhi Statement on Unity
by World Council of Churches
31 December 1961

WCC 3rd Assembly, New Delhi, 1961

This is the report of the Section on Unity at the New Delhi assembly. Particularly in paragraph 2 we have one of the seminal and enduring statements on the nature of "organic unity". Please see also the response to this report from the Orthodox participants, which illustrates the ways in which differences in ecclesiological understanding entail different visions of unity.

I. The Church's unity

1. The love of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit is the source and goal of the unity which the Triune God wills for all men and creation. We believe that we share in this unity in the Church of Jesus Christ, who is before all things and in whom all things hold together. In him alone, given by the Father to be Head of the Body, the Church has its true unity. The reality of this unity was manifest at Pentecost in the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom we know in this present age the first fruits of that perfect union of the Son with his Father, which will be known in its fullness only when all things are consummated by Christ in his glory. The Lord who is bringing all things into full unity at the last is he who constrains us to seek the unity which he wills for his Church on earth here and now.

2. We believe that the unity which is both God’s will and his gift to his Church is being made visible as all in each place who are baptized into Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord and Saviour are brought by the Holy Spirit into one fully committed fellowship, holding the one apostolic faith preaching the one Gospel, breaking the one bread, joining in common prayer, and having a corporate life reaching out in witness and service to all and who at the same time are united with the whole Christian fellowship in all places and all ages in such wise that ministry and members are accepted by all, and that all can act and speak together as occasion requires for the tasks to which God calls his people.

It is for such unity that we believe we must pray and work.

3. This brief description of our objective leaves many questions unanswered. We are not yet of a common mind on the interpretation and the means of achieving the goal we have described. We are clear that unity does not imply simple uniformity of organization, rite or expression. We all confess that sinful self-will operates to keep us separated and that in our human ignorance we cannot discern clearly the lines of God’s design for the future. But it is our firm hope that through the Holy Spirit God’s will as it is witnessed to in Holy Scripture will be more and more disclosed to us and in us. The achievement of unity will involve nothing less than a death and rebirth of many forms of church life as we have known them. We believe that nothing less costly can finally suffice....
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:48 pm

Uppsala, 1968
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

Statement on the Middle East

Statement on the Middle East
by World Council of Churches
01 January 1970


1. We are deeply concerned that the menace of the situation in the Middle East shows no present sign of abating. The resolutions of the United Nations have not been implemented, the territorial integrity of the nations involved is not respected, occupation continues, no settlement is in sight and a new armament race is being mounted.

In these circumstances we reaffirm the statement of the Heraklion Central Committee in August 1967, and make the following points based upon it:

1.1 the independence, territorial integrity and security of all nations in the area must be guaranteed; annexation by force must not be condoned;

1.2 the World Council of Churches must continue to join with all who search for a solution for the refugee and displaced person problems;

1.3 full religious freedom and access to holy places must continues to be guaranteed to the communities of all three historic religions preferably by international agreement;

1.4 national armaments should be limited to the lowest level consistent with national security;

1.5 the great world powers must refrain form pursuing their own exclusive interests in the area.

2. The forthcoming report of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General is urgently awaited, and the Assembly earnestly hopes that it may open the way to a settlement.

3. It is the special responsibility of the World Council of Churches and its member churches to discern the ways in which religious factors affect the conflict.
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:49 pm

Nairobi, 1975
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

Statement on Jerusalem

Statement on Jerusalem
by World Council of Churches
10 December 1975

Nairobi, Kenya, 1975

1. For many millions of Christians throughout the world, as well as for the adherents of the two great sister monotheistic religions, namely Judaism and Islam, Jerusalem continues to be a focus of deepest religious inspiration and attachment. It is therefore their responsibility to cooperate in the creation of conditions that will ensure that Jerusalem is a city open to the adherents of all three religions, where they can meet and live together. The tendency to minimize Jerusalem's importance for any of these three religions should be avoided.

2. The special legislation regulating the relationship of the Christian communities and the authorities, guaranteed by international treaties (Paris 1856 and Berlin 1878) and the League of Nations and known as the Status Quo of the Holy Places must be fully safeguarded and confirmed in any agreement concerning Jerusalem. Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem and neighboring areas belong to the greatest extent to member churches of the WCC. On the basis of the Status Quo none of the church authorities of a given denomination could represent unilaterally and on behalf of all Christians the Christian point of view, each church authority of a given denomination representing only its own point of view.

3. Many member churches of the WCC are deeply concerned about the Christian Holy Places. However, the question of Jerusalem is not only a matter of protection of the Holy Places, it si organically linked with living faiths and communities of people in the Holy City. Therefore, the General Assembly deems it essential that the Holy Shrines should not become mere monuments of visitation, but should serve as living places of worship integrated and responsive to Christian communities who continue to maintain their life and roots within the Holy City and for those who out of religious attachments want to visit them.

4. While recognizing the complexity and emotional implications of the issues surrounding the future status of Jerusalem, the General Assembly believes that such status has to be determined within the general context of the settlement of the Middle East conflict in its totality.

5. However, the Assembly thinks that apart from any politics, the whole settlement of the inter-religious problem of the Holy Places should take place under an international aegis and guarantee which ought to be respected by the parties concerned as well as the ruling authorities.

6. The General Assembly recommends that the above would be worked out with the most directly concerned member churches, as well as with the Roman Catholic Church. These issues should also become subjects for dialogue with Jewish and Muslim counterparts.

7. The Assembly expresses its profound hope and feverent prayers for the peace and welfare of the Holy City and all its inhabitants.
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:58 pm

Vancouver, 1983
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

Peace Vigil Meditation by Dr Philip Potter

A night-long vigil for peace on 5 August 1983 at the WCC 6th Assembly in Vancouver commemorated the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 38 years earlier. Meditation by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Philip Potter

Peace Vigil Meditation by Dr Philip Potter
by World Council of Churches
05 August 1983

World Council of Churches
24 July - 10 August 1983
Vancouver B.C., Canada

On 5 August 1983, on the eve of the Hiroshima bombing's 38th anniversary, the WCC Assembly held a night-long vigil for peace. During the vigil, the following meditation was presented by the WCC general secretary, the Rev. Dr Philip Potter.

Prayer for peace

On 5 August 1983, on the eve of the Hiroshima bombing's 38th anniversary, the WCC Assembly held a night-long vigil for peace.

Prayer for peace
by World Council of Churches
05 August 1983

For peace in your country
For the victims of violence everywhere
For those struggling for peace and justice
For churches in conflict situations
For a world without war and violence

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth,
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace,
Let peace fill our beings, our world and our universe.

(World Prayer for Peace from the Vancouver Assembly)

Statement on the Middle East

Statement on the Middle East
by World Council of Churches
10 August 1983

Vancouver, Canada, July/August 1983

1. The increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East threatens the peace of the whole world and places heavy demands on all those striving for justice and freedom. The Middle East is a region of special interest as the birthplace of three monotheistic religions. The churches in the area have their roots from apostolic times. Their continued presence and active participation in the life of the whole area, despite suffering at various periods, is a remarkable witness to the faith. They are facing new challenges and attempting to respond through new forms of witness. While only the churches of the Middle East can determine the nature and forms of their witness, it behoves all churches to strengthen their presence and support their ministry of reconciliation and witness for peace. Historical factors and certain theological interpretations have often confused Christians outside in evaluating the religious and political developments in the Middle East.

2. Recent developments in the region have further pushed back prospects for peace. The agony of the Lebanese war is not yet over. The integrity and independence of Lebanon are in greater danger than ever. The Israeli settlement policy on the West Bank has resulted in a de facto annexation giving final touches to a discriminatory policy of development of peoples that flagrantly violates the basic rights of the Palestinian people. There are fears of relocation of the inhabitants on the West Bank and their expulsion. A large number of Palestinians are under detention in the prisons on the West Bank and in camps in Lebanon. There is escalation of tension in the Occupied Territories. The consensus among the Arab nations appears to have been lost. External and internal pressures have caused a serious rift within the Palestinian movement. In many situations there are increasing violations of human rights, especially of minorities and religious fanaticism is a bane of many communities. The Iran-Iraq war continues to claim an increasing toll of lives and complicates inter-Arab relations. Tension is increasing in relation to Cyprus.

3. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

3.1 We reaffirm the principles previously enunciated by the WCC as the basis on which a peaceful settlement can be reached. The UN Security council Resolution 242 and all other relevant UN resolutions need to be revised and implemented taking into account changes that have occurred since 1967 and that such revisions should express the following principles in a manner that would ensure:

3.1.1 the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all territories occupied in 1967;

3.1.2 the right of all states, including Israel and Arab states, to live in peace with secure and recognized boundaries;

3.1.3 implementation of the rights of the Palestinians to self-determination including the right of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state.

3.2 We reaffirm that the Middle East conflict cannot be resolved through the use of force but only through peaceful means. Negotiations for a comprehensive settlement on the Middle East should include all those parties most intimately involved: the state of Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and neighboring Arab states. The interests of the world at large are best represented through the United Nations and the USA and the USSR have a special responsibility in this matter.

3.3 Churches should undertake the following with a view to facilitating processes towards negotiations:

3.3.1 to build greater awareness among the churches about the urgency and justice of the Palestinian cause. In this connection active support should be extended to the UN International Conference on the Question of Palestine to be held at the end of August 1983 in Geneva. The churches should bring to bear their influence on states to participate in it;

3.3.2 to encourage the dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis with a view to furthering mutual understanding and enabling recognition;

3.3.3. to remind Christians in the Western world to recognize that their guilt over the fate of Jews in their countries may have influenced their views of the conflict in the Middle East and has often led to uncritical support of the policies of the state of Israel, thereby ignoring the plight of the Palestinian people and their rights. In this context we welcome the more open and critical stance adopted by Christian churches in the traditional Jewish-Christian dialogue, but we also urge the broadening of the dialogue to include larger segments of both Christian and Jewish communities;

3.3.4 to support movements within Israel, which are working for peace and reconciliation.

4. Lebanon

The ecumenical community shares the agony of the peoples in Lebanon who have been tragically suffering over the last nine years and who have been carrying too large a burden of the problems of the region.

4.1 We reiterate that the recovery of Lebanese territorial integrity and sovereignty is a key to peace and justice in the region and that for this to be realized all foreign forces must be withdrawn from Lebanese territory.

4.2. We appeal to the ecumenical community:

4.2.1 to support the efforts of the Lebanese government to reassert the effective exercise of its sovereignty over all Lebanese territory and to support full independence and unity of the Lebanese people;

4.2.2 to assist the churches within Lebanon in their attempts with leaders of the religious communities for reconciliation with a view to achieving harmony and unity among all communities in the country;

4.2.3 to continue to support generously the Middle East Council of Churches and the churches in Lebanon in their humanitarian and social programmes of relief for all in Lebanon;

4.2.4 to collaborate with the churches in the area in their contribution to the promotion of justice, dignity, freedom and human rights for all in Lebanon.

5. Jerusalem

5.1 We reaffirm that "Jerusalem is a Holy City for three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The tendency to minimize Jerusalem's importance for any of these three religions should be avoided" (Vth Assembly, Nairobi 1975). The WCC should implement the proposal of the WCC Central Committee (August 1980) that dialogue be initiated with Jews and Muslims so that members of the three religions can understand each other's deep religious attachment to Jerusalem and so that together they can contribute towards political processes that would lead to a mutually acceptable agreement for sharing the city. The churches should give priority to this while continuing efforts to secure a general settlement of the Middle East conflicts. The special legislation known as the Status Quo of the Holy Places must be safeguarded and confirmed in any agreement concerning Jerusalem.

5.2 We call the attention of the churches to the need for:

5.2.1 actions which will ensure a continuing indigenous Christian presence and witness in Jerusalem; wider ecumenical awareness of the plight of the indigenous Muslim and Christian communities suffering from the repressive actions of the occupying power in East Jerusalem and other occupied territories.

We call upon the churches to express their common concern that although Israeli law guarantees free access for members of all religious traditions rooted in Jerusalem to their holy places, the state of war between Israel and Arab states, the political reality created by the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and continuing occupation of the West Bank means that Arab Muslims and Christians continue to experience serious difficulties and are often prevented from visiting the Holy City.

6. We uphold the churches in the Middle East in our intercessions as they respond to the new challenges in the difficult circumstances through their witness in the service of Christ. We assure them the solidarity of the community of faith around the world as we have gathered together here in the name of Jesus Christ, the Life of the World. We pray for the healing of the wounds in the nations of that region.

We stand together with other religious communities in a spirit of servanthood seeking to be faithful in our common calling to be peace-makers and reconcilers and to bring hope for all.
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

Postby admin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:09 pm

Canberra, 1991
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

Statement on the Gulf War, the Middle East, and the Threat to World Peace
20 February 1991

Statement by the WCC Assembly
Canberra, Australia, February 1991

Seventh Assembly Statement on the Gulf War, the Middle East, and the Threat to World Peace, Canberra, Australia, February 1991


As we gather in the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches, a war of terrible proportions is being waged in the Gulf. Kuwait was already ravaged by Iraqi invading forces. Now, both Kuwait and Iraq are being destroyed by bombardment of unprecedented intensity. Hour by hour this war claims a mounting toll of victims on all sides, combatants and non-combatants alike, our own sisters and brothers. As we met, news was received of the horrible bombing of a shelter in Baghdad killing hundreds of people who sought refuge there, many of them children and women. At this very moment, preparations are being made for a ground battle which is certain to cause greater destruction and loss of life. It is a war of ominous dimensions which threatens the destruction of the land and the people it seeks to liberate. Day by day the war escalates, drawing in more and more nations of the Gulf, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. It squanders the resources of rich and poor countries alike, and no end is in sight.

Intensive efforts were made around the world to prevent this war and avoid its escalation. Urgent appeals were made by leaders of nations not to abandon non-violent efforts to cause Iraq to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait and resolve its differences with its neighbor through negotiations. The churches pleaded with the leaders of their nations not to aggravate further the long-standing conflict in the Middle East which time and again has brought war and violence to the region; created a climate of fear and mistrust between Israel and the Arab nations; led to the suffering of Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, and to the continuing occupation of Palestinian territories and parts of Lebanon and to the invasion and partial occupation of Cyprus; inflicted suffering upon the Palestinian people who have been deprived of their rights to self-determination, statehood and national dignity, and exacerbated conflicts within the countries of the region, delaying justice for national minorities like the Kurdish people.

War promises no lasting solution for the festering wounds of the Middle East, no just, peaceful and durable regional or world order, but rather continued insecurity, pain and conflict.

It is never too soon nor too late to seek peace and a comprehensive settlement. So once again, together, our hearts cry out to the leaders of the nations, especially to those of the coalition forces led by the United States of America and of Iraq: Cease the bombing! Still the missiles! Stop the fighting! Restrain your armies! Negotiate! Trust in the promise of peace!

Peacemaking, the believers' calling

We confess that many of us and our churches have for too long been confused, timid and unfaithful in the face of the daunting complexity of the decades-long problems confronting the Middle East. We have failed to disassociate ourselves from the institutions of militarism which view war either as a solution to human conflicts or as a necessary evil, or to avoid complicity with the powers who trust more in armed might than in the rule of law or the ability of the human spirit to achieve justice by peaceful means.

During this Assembly we have sought to open our hearts and minds to one another and to the Holy Spirit, and we have renewed our resolve to be peace-makers, conscious of the cost of being disciples of the Prince of Peace.

The participants in the WCC World Convocation on Justice Peace and the Integrity of Creation (Seoul, 1990) declared: "We will resist doctrines and systems of security based on the use of, and deterrence by, all weapons of mass destruction, and military interventions and occupations." It is imperative that the churches hear and respond now to this challenge.

The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches (Amsterdam, 1948) was delayed by a looming world war, and every subsequent Assembly has been confronted with the prospect or reality of war. Yet, consistently and persistently, the World Council of Churches has sought lasting peace through efforts to eliminate injustices which give rise to war, to create and strengthen institutions capable of safeguarding international peace and security, and in the event of war, to aid the victims.

The peace we seek, as the Vancouver Assembly (1983) reminded the churches, "is not just the absence of war. Peace requires a new international order based on justice for and within all the nations, and respect for the God-given humanity and dignity of every person. Peace is, as the Prophet Isaiah has taught us, the effect of righteousness."

We trust in the knowledge that the world belongs to God, not to the powers of this world, and we take courage and hope from God's promise of peace, righteousness and justice which was embodied in Jesus Christ and made present among us through the work of the Holy Spirit. With God's help, peace is possible even now.

The Churches' advocacy for a just peace in the Gulf and the Middle East

The World Council of Churches has repeatedly advocated respect for international law and a peaceful resolution of this conflict. It has:

strongly opposed Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait;

welcomed the Security Council's demand that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally from Kuwait and its appeal to Iraq and Kuwait to initiate intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences;

supported the application of strict sanctions banning all commercial dealings and trade with Iraq, with the exception of medical supplies and foodstuffs in humanitarian circumstances;

called upon the Security Council to enforce with equal vigor its earlier resolutions on the territorial integrity of Lebanon, the division and occupation of Cyprus, Israel's withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967, and the right of every State in the area, including Israel, to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

appealed for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the region and the exploration of all avenues for negotiations to defuse the crisis and obtain a peaceful settlement;

declared as morally unacceptable the holding of foreign nationals in Iraq and Kuwait, appealed to the Iraqi government to facilitate the departure of all foreign nationals desiring to do so, and appealed for strict application of international norms for the protection of refugees.

Around the world, member churches and regional ecumenical bodies took the lead in pressing for peace along these same lines:

The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) sought a regional solution to the conflict, at the same time expressing hope for a comprehensive, just resolution for all the conflicts and occupations in the region in order to bring harmony and peace among Muslims, Christians and Jews in the region. It contributed significantly to assisting the refugees and other victims of the conflict.

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA appealed repeatedly to the U.S. Administration and Congress not to abandon sanctions as a means to obtain an end to the occupation of Kuwait, warning against the rapidly escalating military response of the U.S. government to the crisis and the apparently open-ended nature of U.S. military involvement in the region. A delegation of U.S. church leaders traveled to Iraq and other states of the region in an expression of ecumenical concern and solidarity.

The Canadian Council of Churches issued similar appeals to its own government and also sent a delegation to the region, meeting with leaders of churches and of other religious faith communities.

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) and national councils of churches in Europe warned against acceptance of the inevitability of war, recalling the conviction of the European churches, expressed at the European Ecumenical Assembly (Basel, 1989) that war is against the will of God and that everything should be done to further peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The Latin America Council of Churches (CLAI) urged the UN to redouble efforts for a peaceful solution, and churches in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific drew attention to the grave effects of the crisis on their nations and cautioned governments against military or economic support for efforts to achieve a military solution.

The widening effects of the conflict in the Middle East

When Iraq refused to withdraw from Kuwait, massive forces of the coalition led by the United States were deployed in the Gulf and three months later began bombing both Kuwait and Iraq. Iraq launched missiles on Israel, some of which fell in Palestinian areas. This has caused fear and suffering in Israel, which has not retaliated. But it has imposed a blanket curfew in the Occupied Territories, further worsening the already desperate plight of Palestinians who feel unprotected, abandoned by the world community and fear for their future, and heightening tensions in the whole region.

Lebanon's hard-won, fragile peace was disrupted as missiles were launched on Israel from its territory. Israel retaliated with a renewal of heavy punitive bombing raids on Lebanese towns and villages. This has placed further obstacles in the way of the Lebanese Government and Army in their efforts to establish their authority over this strife-torn land.

Smoldering fires of tension throughout the region have been fanned as countries from the northern limits of the Middle East to the Horn of Africa. Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Sudan and others have been drawn into the sphere of confrontation. Indeed, the whole of the region, including Iraq, is armed with huge arsenals of the most modern weaponry, much of it provided by the governments and industries of countries participating in the coalition forces. The whole of the Middle East is a powder-keg which could explode in a moment. And with the presence of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry in and around the region a conflagration could rapidly escape the confines of the Gulf.

All wars have serious side effects, but the oil spillage which has already occurred in the Gulf, and the estimated consequences for the global warming of the earth's atmosphere should the oil wells of Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia be set ablaze, show that the potential of this war for widespread, even global ecological destruction is exceptional.

The global implications of the war

In fact, the war already has global impact. Among its chief victims have been the poor nations of the world, many of whom are already beset by internal conflicts and massive foreign debt.

Their peoples were among the first to suffer. Workers in the Middle East from countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, India and Korea were either trapped in war zones or forced to flee under excruciating circumstances. The war has added to the drain on these nations' economies, some of which depended heavily on remittances - from their nationals employed in the region - which have now been cut off.

The war has dealt a massive economic blow to much of the developing world, eliminating major markets for primary exports, causing prices for fuels and petroleum products and for basic foodstuffs like rice and grain to skyrocket, and making the cost of other essential imports prohibitive for the poor.

The war has led to new acts and threats of terrorism in several parts of the world.

The war has fanned the flames of religious, ethnic and regional conflicts in many countries, especially in Asia, seriously destabilizing some and giving rise to violent conflicts in others.

The preoccupation of the global mass media, governments, and international institutions with the war in the Gulf has distracted attention from efforts to resolve other armed conflicts raging around the world and from other massive human tragedies. It is estimated, for example, that some 20 million people are on the brink of starvation and death in the African countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, Mozambique and Liberia. At this time of war, much of the world has turned a deaf ear to their cries for help.

The United Nations, the Gulf War, and the "New World Order"

The World Council of Churches promoted the formation of the United Nations and through representatives of the member churches it was present when the Charter was adopted. Since the Amsterdam Assembly (1948) it has supported the UN and, especially through its Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, a leading non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, the WCC has contributed to the success of the UN and its related agencies.

The achievements of the United Nations over the years have been notable in many fields. Even during the past decade of the greatest neglect by the major powers, it continued to lay the groundwork for a role in the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. Much of this work came to fruition after 1985 when the UN was instrumental in negotiating an end to the Iran/Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan, and a settlement of the long-standing dispute over Namibia and guiding it to independence; brought closer the end of apartheid in South Africa through the application of comprehensive sanctions; and played a new, more energetic role in promoting the settlement of regional conflicts in Central America and elsewhere.

The words of the late Bishop Bell at the First Assembly (Amsterdam, 1948) remain pertinent, however. "International law", he said, "clearly requires international institutions for its effectiveness. These institutions, if they are to command respect and obedience of nations, must come to grips with international problems on their own merits and not primarily in the light of national interests... The United Nations was designed to promote friendly relations among the nations. Its purposes in these respects deserve the support of Christians. But unless the nations surrender a greater measure of national sovereignty in the interest of the common good, they will be tempted to have recourse to war in order to enforce their claims."

The churches and the general public in most parts of the world supported the initial action of the UN Security Council in condemning the invasion of Kuwait and the application of sanctions to enforce its call for Iraq's withdrawal from this occupied country. They would very much have preferred that the United Nations itself had taken all decisions and the limited actions necessary to end the aggression. Unfortunately member nations have not yet empowered the UN for such a role.

By adopting Security Council resolution 678, which authorized "member states... to use all necessary means to implement previous resolutions", the UN placed itself in danger of being blamed for being unduly dependent upon a powerful nation or group of nations and for appearing to authorize a large-scale war which is not in the interests of an international order of peace based on law.

The question of how major international decisions are made has become one of pressing urgency in the world today. The lessons learned from the way this first major world crisis in the post-Cold War era has been handled by the international community demand a critical examination of the emerging new world order. No one government or group of governments should either take or be allowed to take primary responsibility for the resolution of major conflicts beyond their own borders.

For the Security Council or the Secretary-General, in the exercise of his good offices, to be for some reason unable to act independently and in the true spirit of the UN Charter would be unacceptable. The community of nations cannot afford such a weakening of the UN system. For the sake of world peace, for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of the authority of the United Nations, its position as guarantor of a comprehensive international peace order must be strengthened.

It is imperative, for the sake of world peace, the rule of law, and the credibility of the United Nations, that the parties to the Gulf war cease immediately the hostilities and invest their efforts in the pursuit of a negotiated peace.

For the sake of all peoples it is time to build a new world order of justice, the foundation stone of peace:

a world economic order which ends the domination and exploitation of the poor by the rich;

information and communication systems which - as the World Convocation on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) (Seoul, 1990), said - offer all peoples truth in place of distortion, and media disposed to peace rather than violence; and which redress the concentration of control over global communications media in the hands of a few powerful nations and corporations;

an environmental order which respects the integrity of God's creation and controls the industrialized nations' insatiable thirst for oil - a major source of global conflict, as this war shows, and of widespread damage to the environment - and leads them to adopt new energy policies which promote conservation.

The impact of racism and intolerance

The war in the Gulf reveals the tragic impact of racism on both the international and domestic policies of nations from which indigenous peoples are often the first to suffer.

Internationally, there is a shocking rise in discrimination against persons of Arab nationality, background or appearance. In the name of "national security" and "prevention of terrorism", many are subjected to systematic humiliation, harassment, preventive detention, and open threat of physical harm by both state authorities and private groups in many nations around the world.

Anti-Muslim intolerance is on the increase in many Western countries, fed by the portrayal of Islam as an inherently menacing religion. As a result, many Muslims feel humiliated and angry, and the future of Christian-Muslim relations - so crucial to peace and harmony in many parts of the world - risks being gravely affected. At a time when there are manifestations of anti-Semitism in a number of countries, many Jews feel great anguish.

A disproportionate burden is being imposed on racial and ethnic minorities in this war. According to United States Department of Defense estimates, for example, 25% of U.S. troops deployed in the Gulf (and 29% of ground forces and 55% of women in uniform) are Black. Yet African-Americans comprise only slightly more than 11% of the civilian population over the age of 16. Corresponding figures for other racial or ethnic minority groups are not readily available, but it is safe to assume that Native Americans and persons of Hispanic background are similarly over-represented in the fighting forces. Concern rises for a generation of Black, Hispanic and Native American youth endangered by intense, endemic poverty, inadequate health care, the ever-rising incidence of AIDS, and the impact of drugs and drug-related crime. Now, many of those who joined the military in search of education, stable employment and a way out of these dangers, are at peril in the Gulf.

The situation and role of women

This particular conflict and the long-standing institutions of war and militarism that feed it are created, controlled, and perpetuated by men. Some women may at times support military solutions to conflicts and, increasingly, women participate as soldiers. In the rare circumstances where women lead governments, some of them promote policies leading to war. But most women and children are victimized by war and militarism. They become refugees, objects of sexual violence by occupation forces, and they are trapped in the midst of violence. Women and children are also the majority of those who are deprived of basic necessities when resources from institutions that enhance life are diverted to those that destroy it. In contrast to this victimization by forces in which they have little meaningful participation, women are often at the heart of movements for peace with justice and other activities that promote creative non-violent resolution of conflict. And women have taken the lead in urging that adversaries be recognized as full human beings rather than being made objects in enemy images.

The impact on youth

Modern warfare takes a particularly terrible toll on youth and children. There are indications that the chief victims both of the occupation of Kuwait and of the bombing of Iraq in retaliation are many infants and children. Young people make up the bulk of the armed forces exposed to battle. The youth of this Assembly have expressed concern that young men and women from many countries are called to fight in the Middle East in a war not of their making, and that young people are among the first to suffer from the economic deprivation and strife it is causing.

Appeals and Affirmations

Out of deep human concern for all these who are victimized by the war in the Gulf: the poor, the racially oppressed, women, youth, civilian victims, and those who out of loyalty or due to circumstance are engaged in conflict as members of the armed forces; out of our concern for justice, peace and the integrity of creation; and as an expression of our hope for a truly just, peaceful, democratic participatory world order and institutions able to govern and sustain it, we at the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches (Canberra, February 1991) cry out: Stop the war! Pursue the way of peace!

To the churches:

We urge you to be constant in prayer and pastoral care for the leaders of the nations and particularly for all those on every side caught up in or victimized by this tragic war: innocent civilians, those involved in the fighting, families and friends who grieve the separation or loss of their loved ones, and those who reject military service on grounds of conscience.

We appeal especially to the churches in arms exporting and importing countries to press for immediate steps to control this trade in death and destruction. The more lethal the weapons and the larger their number, the greater the violence and destruction of wars and conflicts. This uncontrolled trade denies the sanctity of human life and defiles the planet.

We reiterate the affirmation of the Sixth Assembly: "The churches today are called to confess anew their faith, and to repent for the times when Christians have remained silent in the face of injustice or threats to peace. The biblical vision of peace with justice for all, of wholeness, of unity for all God's people is not one of several options for the followers of Christ. It is an imperative in our time."

To the United Nations:

We urge you to reassert your role as peacemaker, peacekeeper, conciliator and negotiator.

We urge you to act now, decisively, to stop the war and to return to the strict application of non-violent sanctions - without deadlines - against Iraq, whose actions are in violation of international law and have been widely condemned by the nations.

We urge you to reconvene the Security Council on a continuing, emergency basis, to map a new course for peaceful negotiation of the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait and of the other outstanding conflicts in the region.

We urge you to move with all due speed to the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, called for by the 38th UN General Assembly (1983), to resolve the question of Palestine, to address the legitimate national rights of Palestinians to self-determination and an independent state of their own, and as a means to implement Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) which affirms the right of every State in the area, including Israel, "to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force". Meanwhile, we call for international protection for the Palestinian people under occupation until such an International Peace Conference has done its work.

We also call for the initiation of a Conference on Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Middle East with the equal participation of all interested states and peoples as a further instrument for the achievement of a just and lasting settlement in the region which will bring about the mutual recognition of all states and effective guarantees for their security.

We urge you to be consistent in your actions to ensure the compliance of the nations with United Nations resolutions, especially those others calling for an end to illegal occupation of territory in the region of the Middle East: the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967, Lebanon, and Cyprus.

To the nations and their leaders:

We commend those nations who have exerted efforts to seek a negotiated solution to this conflict both before and after the engagement of the war, and encourage you to pursue them now with even greater vigor.

We call urgently and insistently on both Iraq and the coalition forces led by the United States to cease fire immediately and to work for a negotiated solution of the Iraq-Kuwait dispute within the context of the United Nations.

We urge all nations involved in the war to respect international norms for the protection of non-combatants in situations of armed conflict.

We appeal to the government of Iraq to signal its intention and offer guarantees that it will comply with Security Council Resolution 660 by withdrawing completely and unconditionally from the territory of Kuwait immediately upon the cessation of hostilities.

We call upon all external powers to withdraw all forces from the Middle East - except those required to perform a peace-keeping role under UN command - as a means to help restore a climate propitious for the pursuit of a lasting settlement of the region's conflicts.

We appeal to the Government of Israel to lift the blanket curfew that has been imposed on the Occupied Territories since the war began.

To peoples of other faiths:

In the presence of the representatives of other faiths who have been our guests during this Assembly, we commit ourselves to refuse to be separated from brothers and sisters of other faiths as a result of this war, and to reject especially any effort to divide Christians, Muslims and Jews whose faiths originated in the Middle East, and to join with them in prayers and common endeavors for peace in anticipation of the day when all may live together in peace and mutual respect.

Ever mindful that God rules with righteousness over all, we pray:

Come Holy Spirit
transform our lives,
lift and sustain us in this day.
Give wisdom and faith
that we may know
the great hope to which we are called.
Come, Holy Spirit,
renew the whole creation
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Re: A Friend of the Devil: Inside a famous Cold War deceptio

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Harare, 1998
by World Council of Churches
Accessed: 4/8/19

From solidarity to accountability

Letter to the WCC 8th Assembly from the women and men of the Decade Festival of the Churches in Solidarity with Women

From solidarity to accountability
by World Council of Churches
30 November 1998

Letter to the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches from the women and men of the Decade Festival of the Churches in Solidarity with Women

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

We, as members of the body of Christ from different parts of the world and different confessions gathered at the Decade Festival, greet you in the name of Jesus Christ. We praise and thank God for the gift of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women given by the World Council of Churches ten years ago. Space was created for women to share their spirituality, their daily struggles and their gifts. But the Living Letters sent to you five years ago revealed the painful reality that many churches were not fully committed to this process. So we come once again as a living letter to invite the churches of this Jubilee Assembly to join us as we recommit ourselves to full Christian community as found in the Gospel. This is not an option, but a Gospel imperative.

Now that we are at the end of this journey, we must acknowledge that the Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women became a decade of women in solidarity with women. We were reminded, as we gathered, that the spirituality of "not giving up" is a legacy of our forebears. We were carried on the wings of the Holy Spirit moving us from solidarity to accountability in the full promise that God does not give up on us. We now rejoice in our renewed strength.

Through the Living Letters, we listened and heard our sisters answer Jesus's question, "Woman, why are you weeping?" Women responded by revealing their secret pain of isolation, economic injustice, barriers to participation, racism, religious fundamentalism, ethnic genocide, sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS and violence against women and children. We lamented. We searched the scriptures and we prayed. We found the Holy Spirit interceding with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26). Empowered, we have begun the journey of healing.

With regard to our young sisters, we acknowledge that at times we have failed them. We embrace the challenge they presented us to affirm their gifts and mentor them as they assume the legacy we pass on - not to give up. We rejoiced in anticipation of our developing partnership.

We appreciate the solidarity expressed by our brothers and those church leaders who journeyed with us. Together we seek to live out the biblical affirmation that we are created in the image of God, male and female (Gen 1:27), and the baptismal vision that "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).


As women and men of the Decade Festival, we are committed to God's mission of a world where all God`s people can live fully, care for and share the resources of the world equitably, dwell in harmony with creation and affirm one another in the image of God.

THIS MEANS THAT WE HOLD FIRMLY to the vision of a human community where the participation of each and every one is valued, where no one is excluded on the basis of race, sex, age, religion or cultural practice, where diversity is celebrated as God's gift to the world.

TO THIS END, we, women and men of the Decade Festival, urge our churches of the 8th Assembly to embrace this vision, and to direct the resources of the WCC to create programmes, educational materials, networks and opportunities that support and empower women.

We urge our churches to devote time and energy to confront the evils of domination, and discrimination. We call upon our churches to monitor church structures and practices so that all forms of exclusion are eradicated. Let our initiatives include:

theological education opportunities and programmes for women that honour their voices and experiences; theological curricula that include gender studies and women's perspectives;

training for women, girls and boys in how to live as just communities of women, men and children;

liturgies, gender and language policies that confirm and affirm all who participate;

policies that promote a balance of gender, age and race in leadership positions and roles, and honour people's cultural identities.

We recognize that there are a number of ethical and theological issues such as the ordination of women, abortion, divorce and human sexuality in all of its diversity that have implications for participation and are difficult to address in the church community. During the Decade, human sexuality in all of its diversity emerged with particular significance. We condemn the violence perpetuated due to the differences on this matter. We wrestled with the issue, aware of the anguish we all endure because of the potential to create further divisions. We acknowledge that there is divided opinion as women and men on this particular issue. In fact, for some women and men in our midst, the issue has no legitimacy. We seek the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit that we may continue the conversation in order that justice may prevail.

WE HOLD FIRMLY to the elimination of all violence in various forms (sexual, religious, psychological, structural, physical, spiritual, military), and the Culture of Violence, especially as they affect the life and dignity of women. And we declare our readiness to confront any attempts to excuse, cover-up or justify violence. We declare, as Festival women and men, that its presence in the church is an offence against God, humanity and the earth.

TO THIS END, we call upon this 8th Assembly to announce to the world that violence against women is a sin. In order to be accountable to God and ourselves, we recommend that the Assembly's theme, Turn to God: Rejoice in Hope, be taken as an opportunity for repentance for the church's participation in this violence, and for renewal of our theologies, traditions and practices for justice and peace among women, men and children in our homes and communities. The 9th Assembly should be used to hold ourselves -- our churches and the WCC -- accountable for our work on this issue.

Let our initiatives include:

Creating opportunities and places for women to speak out fearlessly about the violence and abuse they experience, so that the culture of silence can be broken.

Exposing all sexual abuse, especially by those in positions of church leadership.

Creating restorative justice processes where both the victims of violence and the perpetrators can experience, in truth-telling, the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Eliminating all biblical and theological justifications for the use of violence.

Denouncing all initiatives of war, taking steps to de-legitimize war, and seeking alternative, non-violent, ways to handle conflict.

Denouncing female genital mutilation, sex-tourism and trafficking of women and children.

WE HOLD FIRMLY to a vision of a world of economic justice, where poverty is neither tolerated nor justified, where the peoples of the south and east flourish with the peoples of the north and west, where a balance of power and wealth is restored, and where women and children no longer endure enforced and debilitating labour.

TO THIS END, we denounce economic and political conditions that create uprooted and internally displaced people, migrant workers and refugees. We urge our churches at this 8th Jubilee Assembly to declare poverty and all its dehumanizing consequences a scandal against God. We implore our churches to do everything within our God-given power and accountability to unmask the economic forces of death and destruction, to name the oppressive global economy, the liberalization of markets and the accompanying cut-backs in social and welfare services as enemies of God, and to fulfill God's creative intention for accountable stewardship of the earth. We call on the WCC and its member churches to adopt the UN Beijing Platform for Action and the UN Decade of Eradication of Poverty 1997-2007, and to work with other non-governmental organizations on this common agenda. We urge our churches to raise our voices together against all vestiges of colonialism and all forms of neo-colonialism, and the unjust and unwelcome intrusion by states and other powerful actors in the affairs of other nations. And we urge our churches to call upon the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to halt immediately all Structural Adjustment Programmes that hurt the most vulnerable, especially women and children.

Let our initiatives include:

a demand, at this Jubilee Assembly, for cancellation of the internal and external debts of the world's poorest nations, and that the resources so saved be used to improve the quality of life of the poor, especially women, youth and children;

the establishment, in local, regional and national churches, of specific programme desks for economic issues;

the call for laws that protect women's rights to property and other rights, such as reproductive rights;

the creation of just economic systems and just structures in church and society so that women and men together may know the blessings of justice, equal pay for equal work, sustainable and livable wages, and honourable labour practices.

A declaration on violence and racism

We, the women and men of the Festival, declare that fullness of life in Christ and Christ's prayer for unity require women's participation, the elimination of violence against women and that the image of God in women be valued and recognized.

Further, we declare that fullness of life in Christ and Christ's prayer for unity require that no race be valued over another, that churches in the name of Christ challenge all acts of ethnic cleansing, caste atrocities, xenophobia and genocide. We declare that racism and ethnocentrism are against the will of God and have no place in God's household.

The WCC and its member churches must maintain a strong commitment to eradicate racism in all contexts. We call on our WCC and its member churches to provide a strong voice of solidarity with indigenous peoples and black communities, and support for programmes and organizations such as SISTERS (Sisters In Struggle to Eliminate Racism and Sexism) and ENYA (Ecumenical Network of Youth Action) which seek to honour the biblical vision of a world where "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."


In the spirit of the Living Letters, we direct a special word to you as church leaders at the Assembly. We recognize that you have been entrusted with gifts of power and authority, delegated to you by God and the church community.

In a world of increasing abuse of power, arrogant assumption of authority and mis-use of position, we are reminded of Jesus' words "that it shall not be so among you". Decade visits demonstrated, however, that such abuses take place in many church circles. We, as women have been, and are the victims of this abuse. We make it clear that we shall not tolerate its presence anymore. We call upon all church leaders to be examples of God's authority in Christ, exercising power not over but with God's people for the enhancement of all.

TO THIS END, we call upon you to initiate actions to correct the gender imbalances that exist in your midst, and make all levels of administration in churches and ecumenical organizations accessible and just for women. We urge you to encourage more women to take up leadership roles and support them so that they can offer new understandings of and ways of using power.


We, the women of the Festival, invite you to join us in the vision and commitment of this letter. At the Festival, the tears of women from around the world were poured out in lament at the hurt and sufferings in women's lives. In the tears that flowed, we recognized each other, from continent to continent, from country to country. Through our tears, we looked at each other and, because of those tears, we promised to stay together and move forward. We include your tears with ours and your stories with ours, and invite you to work, pray and dream with us for the world of God's promise.

The young women at the Festival reminded all of us that this new world can not be, however, if women are content merely to exchange positions with men in systems of domination and oppression. The young women were clear. They see new models of organization where power is shared and every voice is heard. They envision new forms of partnership where a leader is someone who helps others to flourish. They see a church where young and older women work together, and where each is recognized for who they are and what they have to offer.

This is a new day. This is a renewed church, and a transformed community of faith, and we join with you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in its creation.


We, the men of the Festival, address you, the men of the Assembly. It is impossible to express in words the joyous hope that permeated the Festival days, even in the presence of woman's suffering. As men, we have to face the reality of our complicity in the suffering, in the cultures of violence and dominance that have been its source. It is impossible for us as individual men to extricate ourselves from such evil, or pretend that we are free from its power and influence.

We invite you as men of the Assembly to join us in a process of confession and repentance as we seek to turn to God for transformation. Our sisters of the faith have broken the silence, the truth of our actions is now exposed. But in the midst of that truth, we are experiencing not a spirit of recrimination and blame, but a graceful invitation to live out the freedom that is a gift to all of us through God in Christ.


We, the women and men of the Festival, have heard your challenges. We have been lifted up and inspired by your visions and commitments. We pledge to you our spirituality of "not giving up" until there is a church where you are seen not just as the players of tomorrow, but as gifted people of God for today. We also pledge to do whatever we can to free you from abuse and violence, from economic and social injustice. We seek your partnership and guidance as we move toward a church and society that is inclusive and just.

In conclusion, we hope that a clear plan for Decade follow-up can be agreed upon. We suggest that the next ten years be a decade of action and theological reflection with a time-line such as a mid-decade forum and end-decade evaluation.

We ask you to receive this letter in the spirit of the Living Letters that preceded it. We invite your prayers, and ask you to come with us to the fountain of all life, where the sustaining and refreshing waters flow unceasingly, "opening new paths, cleansing, healing, connecting, nourishing the roots of our dreams.... never running dry".

Ecumenical Decade Festival
Visions beyond 1998
Harare, Zimbabwe
27-30 November 1998

Together on the Way - official report of the eighth assembly

Together on the Way - official report of the eighth assembly
by World Council of Churches
01 January 1999

Please click here to access the complete report


How will the eighth assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare be remembered? This official report begins with the words of a litany used at the opening worship in which the central messages of the seven preceding assemblies were recalled. What has been and what will be received as the main message of this jubilee assembly at Harare?

"Being Together Under the Cross in Africa" is the title of the message adopted by the delegates on the final day of the Harare assembly. During the plenary discussion of the draft message, some delegates suggested that a more dynamic formulation than "being together" should be found -- perhaps "moving together" or "building together". Both of these phrases, which are found in the report of the assembly's Programme Guidelines Committee, raise the question: Has there been "movement" at this assembly and has it engaged in an act of "building"? The following report will help the readers, particularly those who have not participated personally in the assembly, to find out for themselves.

Each of the WCC's eight assemblies has had its particular profile which is reflected in the official report. The Harare assembly was marked by its setting on the African continent, by its theme "Turn to God -- Rejoice in Hope", echoing the biblical jubilee motif, and by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the WCC.

Despite the broad-based and constructive participation of member churches and ecumenical partners in the nine-year process of reflection about a "common understanding and vision of the World Council of Churches", fears had been expressed prior to the assembly about the future of the World Council. Eastern Orthodox churches in particular had expressed critical concern. The following introduction and the reports adopted by the Harare assembly show that the meeting took seriously these challenges and -- in the spirit of the assembly theme -- responded with a message of hope, not only for the WCC and the ecumenical movement but for Africa and the world at large.

Two features of this assembly, which had a special significance for the participants, could not be reflected adequately in any printed report. The first is the worship life of the assembly: the daily services in the worship tent, the special liturgical celebrations and the encounters in small groups for Bible study and reflection about the presentations in plenary session. For many in Harare, these were the moments of the strongest ecumenical experience. The worship book of the assembly will remain a resource for years to come in relation to all efforts to nurture what the Programme Guidelines Committee calls an "ecumenism of the heart".

The second special feature was the Padare, the open space for sharing, encounter and dialogue in the middle of the assembly programme, with its hundreds of presentations on a wide variety of issues and experiences of local ecumenical endeavour. The Padare was linked with the official agenda of the assembly through two series of hearing sessions under the guidance of the Programme Guidelines Committee. While the experience of this innovation in the programming of a WCC assembly not surprisingly pointed to many areas in which its organization could be improved, it was on the whole most encouraging, demonstrating that the ecumenical movement is alive and full of vitality -- in spite of all the seeming evidence to the contrary.

The rich diversity of the Padare, which defied the communication efforts of report-writers and journalists, also posed difficulties of choice for the participants. Indeed, the multifaceted character of the assembly programme as a whole -- while it reflects ecumenical reality -- poses even more sharply the question of the coherence and oneness of the ecumenical movement. In a way, each participant in Harare has experienced a different assembly; and sometimes their impressions and evaluations differ so widely that one wonders whether the people concerned were attending the same conference.

This official report and the extensive introduction written by Diane Kessler provide a comprehensive perspective on the Harare assembly, both as an event and in terms of its results. We are indebted to her for putting the different and sometimes contradictory facets together and placing them into a coherent whole. This is an indispensable condition for the process of the reception of the assembly to begin. With the Harare assembly the WCC has opened a new chapter in its life. This report reflects a spirit of hopeful expectation which does not deny the difficulties and critical challenges ahead but is prepared to face them in the confidence that "the one who calls us is faithful and will carry it out" (1 Thess. 5:24).

Konrad Raiser
General Secretary

Being Together Under the Cross in Africa

The Message of the WCC 8th Assembly

Being Together Under the Cross in Africa
by World Council of Churches
14 December 1998

The Message of the WCC 8th Assembly

"Blessed is our God always, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen"

Called by the drums of Africa we gathered in Harare, Zimbabwe, as representatives of over three hundred churches at the eighth assembly of the World Council of Churches. We greet our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ throughout the world who share and rejoice with us in the life and fellowship of the Holy Trinity.

Fifty years ago the World Council of Churches began its journey of faith with the assembly in Amsterdam and clearly affirmed "We intend to stay together". Our pilgrimage through Evanston, New Delhi, Uppsala, Nairobi, Vancouver and Canberra has led us to rejoice in the hope, mission, vision, freedom, life and renewal that God gives.

The theme of this Assembly, "Turn to God -- Rejoice in Hope", is an invitation to look again to the very foundation of our faith and life as churches, finding there the hope that will draw us on. In this our Jubilee year we proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and the year of the Lord's favour.

Meeting in joyful assembly, we invite one another and the whole church to journey towards visible unity, which is God's gift and call to us. We have found that Christ is both the centre of our unity and our living water of life. We confess that we have often turned away from God's purposes and from serving God's reign. For this we grieve and repent.

The life of the assembly has revolved around worship, prayer and Bible study. At the centre of the place of worship has stood a great carved cross with the continent of Africa at its heart. It is indeed part of the joy of this assembly that we are in Africa. Here we experienced the life, growth and vitality of faith in local congregations. We rejoiced in the beauty and wonder of God's creation. We remembered that it was to Africa that the holy family with the infant Jesus came as refugees, and today Africa like every other continent is a place where many people are displaced, homeless and refugees.

Drawn by the power of the cross, we have been reminded that the cross is the most holy ground before which the very sandals of God are removed. We have seen all around us the suffering and pain of humankind. We have encountered the alarming problems of poverty, unemployment and homelessness which are here as they are everywhere. We have heard of the devastating effects of globalization and structural adjustments as those who are weak and powerless find themselves becoming increasingly "invisible". We have listened as our sisters and brothers have shared with us the grim reality of the debt crisis in the developing world. We call for the cancellation of debt in a manner which benefits the poor and marginalized and respects their human rights.

We have longed to touch those suffering from HIV/AIDS. We have stood alongside our brothers and sisters with disabilities, who bring a gift to those who are handicapped in relating to them. We have heard the voice of the Indigenous Peoples among us, claiming the place that is theirs by right. We have heard from women, children, refugees and displaced persons whose lives have been ravaged by violence. We have been challenged to express our solidarity with them, and to commit ourselves to overcome violence and to promote the full human dignity of all. By going to those at the periphery God causes commotion, making this periphery the centre. As churches, we are called to make these sons and daughters of God truly visible.

With the symbol of life giving water, we marked the completion of the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women, listening to the all-too-often painful reality revealed in the Living Letters and hearing the call that solidarity be followed by accountability. As it flows on parched ground, water is essential to life. Jesus offered to the woman at the well the living water, the healing and new life she so desperately needed. The call of God was presented again and again in the use of water. We were invited to drink the water of salvation, and to affirm our unity with all those incorporated into Christ. We are called to help and comfort the lonely, the bereaved, orphans, and the destitute, and to keep thirsting until the wounds of the world are healed.

We have wrestled with how we might foster greater participation at every level of the ecumenical movement, and the way in which decision-making can reflect the needs and expectations of those coming from many and varied traditions and cultures. We celebrated the leadership shown by young people which has been so apparent in the life of this assembly. We urge the churches to ensure space for the involvement of young people in every aspect of the life and ministries of the church.

Drawn together by God's love, we have sought to understand more what it is to be together. We have explored how we understand the World Council of Churches and the ways in which God has called us to look forward together. We have rejoiced in the developing (communion) between Christians in many parts of the world, and we affirm once again that God has called us to continue to grow in that communion together, that it may be truly visible. We rejoice in signs of this growth such as the hope for a common date of Easter.

We have also experienced the pain brought by our remaining divisions, as revealed in our inability to share one eucharist. But we were constantly reminded that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. Christian remembering is not centred on our divided memory but rather on the saving events of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For this reason, to remember together as Christians is an essential part of turning to God, so that we may rejoice in hope. It is as we turn to God and see in the other the face of God that we know and see who we are. This is the heart of a truly ecumenical spirituality.

We sought to allow open space for one another, and to create space for those who are failing to connect with each other in a divided world. In the assembly, a wide range of concerns and commitments came together, providing an opportunity to realize how the Spirit leads the community of faith far beyond any individual horizon. We experienced the richness of God, and of the various ways we can respond to a world which encompasses peoples of many living faiths. We claim religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

The World Council of Churches began its journey in faith with the determination to stay together. We experienced this same determination in Harare, even when we were aware of the difficulties that we faced. As churches long committed to staying together, we now commit ourselves to being together in a continuing growth towards visible unity -- not only in assemblies and ecumenical gatherings but each in every place. It is this being together that all ecumenical work at every level must serve. The mission to which God calls the church in the service of God's reign cannot be separated from the call to be one. In Harare we saw once again the immensity of the mission in which God invites us to share. In this mission we who are reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross are challenged to work for reconciliation and peace with justice among those torn apart by violence and war.

From this eighth assembly of the World Council of Churches we share with you our brothers and sisters a message of hope. The God who has called us together will bring us to the fulfilment of all things in Christ. The jubilee which has begun among us is sent to you, to celebrate the liberation of the entire creation. As we have turned once again to God, we have been able to rejoice in hope. We invite you to share with us the vision which we have been able to express together and which, we pray, will become part of a common life and witness:

affirming the gifts of all,young and old, women and men, lay and ordained.

We expect the healing of human community,
the wholeness of God's entire creation.

We trust in the liberating power of forgiveness,
transforming enmity into friendship
and breaking the spiral of violence.

We are challenged by the vision of a church
that will reach out to everyone,
sharing, caring, proclaiming the good news of God's redemption,
a sign of the kingdom and a servant of the world.

We are challenged by the vision of a church,
the people of God on the way together,
confronting all divisions of race, gender, age or culture,
striving to realize justice and peace,
upholding the integrity of creation.

We journey together as a people with resurrection faith.
In the midst of exclusion and despair,
we embrace, in joy and hope, the promise of life in all its fullness.

We journey together as a people of prayer.
In the midst of confusion and loss of identity,
we discern signs of God's purpose being fulfilled
and expect the coming of God's reign.
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