Leaders and representatives of 24 US churches gathering in Washington, DC next week will deliver a message to President-elect Barack Obama, outlining hopes for the new administration in leading the nation forward and working for peace with justice. The message will come out of the annual meeting of the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches (WCC), which gathers 24 WCC-member churches in the country. With the theme 'Making Peace: Claiming God's Promise,' the meeting will take place in Washington, D.C. from 2-4 December. "Hope and change are at the heart of the Christian season of Advent as we once again await the birth of the baby Jesus, the Prince of Peace. In the context of war and want and waste, the WCC's member churches in the US are eager to share a special word with President-elect Obama, who campaigned on a promise of hope and change," said the Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, WCC president from North America. Representatives from WCC member churches in the Pacific, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Canada and Europe will join the meeting to express solidarity for the message of the US churches, bringing their own messages of hope to the newly elected president of the United States and sharing stories of peacemaking from their home regions. The gathering will address, among other issues, the ethical dimensions of climate change and the ecumenical involvement in Middle East peace-making. The 'Blessed are the Peacemakers Awards' will be presented to local, national and global peacemaking initiatives and personalities. Featured speakers include: Dr Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at the Union Theological Seminary (emeritus); the Rev Dr Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; Dr Rodney Sadler, associate professor of Bible at the Union Theological Seminary; Dr Elizabeth Ferris, co-director, the Brookings Institution; Rev Eric Fistler, former US national coordinator of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel; and Rev Baranite Kirata, Secretary for Justice and Development of the Kiribati Protestant Church, South Pacific. A public ecumenical service will be co-hosted by the National City Christian Church and the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, DC on Wednesday, 3 December. The meeting will be an opportunity for the US member churches of the WCC to get acquainted with the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation to be held in Jamaica in May 2011, which will culminate the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence. The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya.
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