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View the documentNote on the Contemporary Role of the Church in International Affairs - WCC Central Committee, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-20 September 1996
View the documentRecommendations of the WCC Central Committee, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-20 September 1996

Recommendations of the WCC Central Committee, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-20 September 1996

The WCC Central Committee adopted the following recommendations and launched the campaign “Peace to the City” with it’s exciting implications:

a) As stated by the Central Committee in 1995, the focus of the Programme to Overcome Violence should be building a culture of peace through practical means to overcome violence at different levels of society, encouraging the churches to play a leading role in using non-violent means such as prevention, mediation, intervention and education appropriate to their particular contexts. We should however not refrain from looking at the political, economic and social root causes of violence, including the problems of structural violence;

b) Taking advantage of existing resources in institutes that study issues of peace, justice and environmental sustainability as well as theological schools and institutes, and regional ecumenical organizations, the programme should include studies of the causes of violence. Particular attention should be given to situations where churches or religious groups contribute to these causes;

c) As requested by Central Committee in 1994 and 1995, the Council should move urgently to offer reflection on the theological and ecclesiological dimensions of violence as well as the powerful resources offered by the Christian faith in building cultures of peace, as for example, in the Bible, in stories of churches and other groups of Christians engaged in creating cultures of peace with justice in their own place, and in work by theologians directly engaged with these issues (including women theologians studying violence against women, Historic Peace Churches, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches rooted in poor communities permeated by violence and announcing the Gospel, and others);

d) The WCC should call for the creation of a day of prayer and fasting for peace;

e) As noted by Central Committees in 1994 and 1995, the POV should be a clear emphasis in all units, with a specific programme being carried out in Unit III. Thus, the POV should commend and highlight the on-going work of the WCC in the General Secretariat, Unit I, II, and IV, where concrete programmes and other efforts address issues related to violence and the means to overcome it, including work in rural areas. Furthermore, the POV should embrace, affirm and strengthen on-going work in Unit III, where many programmes and all the related programme groups (ECOS, CCIA, PCR, Women, Youth, and Theology of Life) offer considerable analysis, action, and constituencies deeply involved in efforts to overcome violence;

f) To focus attention dramatically on the POV in the period up to the VIIIth Assembly and to complement closely related on-going work in the Council, the WCC should launch:

Peace to the City
A Global Initiative of the World Council of Churches
Programme to Overcome Violence

This initiative provides a symbol to engage and encourage all churches in every place to practise peace every day. The initiative should include:

I. Choosing as many as seven cities that visibly demonstrate both the destructive force of violence as well as significant initiatives of building peace and justice. Churches and groups in various cities across different regions of the world who participate in specific, substantial work in peace-building and communities of justice may apply for their work to be highlighted in this initiative. Church and/or ecumenical partners in as many as seven cities should be contacted as soon as possible, to test the idea and their willingness to participate in the initiative. The criteria developed by the Board on International Affairs should be taken into account. Participants in the POV Consultation established a tentative list of possible cities in eight regions, to be narrowed to seven cities at the most.

II. Visiting each of the cities with teams of seven people each, including at least three persons from other cities involved in the process, those with experience in local arenas and with print or broadcast media, with mediation techniques, and those with analytic skills. These team visits should take place before the 1998 Assembly in order to give visibility to efforts to overcome violence, to collect and reflect on experience and expertise, and to share hope and a spirituality for life.

III. Developing video materials that vividly portray parts of these visits to encourage groups and churches all over the world to join the process.

IV. Encouraging and facilitating networks of mutual exchange among those working in cities to overcome violence, emphasizing methods discussed in more detail in the report of the Rio de Janeiro consultation.

V. Offering the 1998 Assembly as an opportunity for representatives of the work in these seven (or fewer) cities to come together, joined by others at the Assembly, to sign an agenda, a commitment, or a contract publicly pledging to continue and strengthen these and other efforts toward peace with justice.

VI. Offering opportunity at the Assembly for member churches to reflect on how the World Council of Churches might facilitate their work on overcoming violence in the period after the Assembly.