To highlight the urgency of peace in the Holy Land after 40 years of occupation, the World Council of Churches (WCC), member churches and related organizations are organizing a week of prayers, seminars and advocacy to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The goal of the week, beginning Sunday, is to raise awareness in churches and civil society and to impress upon governments the need for new efforts to end the conflict and negotiate a just settlement, WCC said in a statement. The initiative is called "International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 3-9 June 2007". Participants from Australia to Sweden and Canada to South Africa are organizing peace walks, meeting their governments or staging public forums. An ecumenical service will be held in Jerusalem on Sunday, June 3, to start the week. In the US, church groups are joining mass public demonstrations. In Brussels and other European capitals, Pax Christi members are part of a joint Roman Catholic delegation to the European Union and member governments. In South Africa, the national broadcaster has been asked to hold talk shows with ecumenical accompaniers, WCC volunteers who have lived with those affected by the occupation. In Stockholm, the archbishop has invited the media to breakfast. In Sydney, an inter-faith prayer service will be followed by the planting of an olive tree with the local Palestinian community. Participation in most of the week's events is open to people of different faiths. In some places, especially the Nordic countries, church events related to Middle East peace are routine. Other churches are taking action for the first time as part of this WCC initiative. Events are known to be taking place in 14 countries with news still coming in from the 100-plus countries in the membership of the WCC and Pax Christi as well as the Lutheran World Federation, which has endorsed the initiative. The Jerusalem prayers and readings, distributed around the world, have raised the widest interest. In the Philippines, the Netherlands and scattered congregations in Australia, for example, parishes using the service are likely to generate wide participation. Many see it as a special form of solidarity with those living their 40th year of occupation and plan to hold services at the same time as Jerusalem. Source: WCC
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