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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Ecumenical body formed to promote peace in Great Lakes region of Africa
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 Churches and Christian Councils in the Great Lakes region of Africa have announced the formation of an ecumenical church body this week. The Great Lakes Region Ecumenical Forum (GLEF) was instituted at a summit, attended by representatives of the churches and Christian councils from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which was held in Bujumbura, Burundi, from May 10-12. The regional summit, jointly organized by Fellowship of Churches and Christian Councils in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) had equally strong representation of the World Council of Churches, the regional Catholic church body of the Association Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA), the UN and civil societies. In a communiqué on healing and reconciliation delegates urged participants to commit to refrain from participating in partisan politics and instead to be instruments of healing and reconciliation in the sub-region. They also urged the churches and Christian councils on the region to develop frameworks and best practice for healing and reconciliation initiatives by initiating support groups and equipping the church in counselling and trauma healing and encourage restorative justice, which will enable reconciliation. They further urged churches and Christian councils to encourage forgiveness in the community. They called for governments to provide a secure environment for individuals to participate in truth and reconciliation initiatives; programmes to heal ex-combatants and the perpetrators of sexual violence. In his address, for example, the AACC president, Rev Dr Nyansako Ni-Nku, said the new forum was a "signpost to hope" as it would mean the churches and Christian councils in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda, acting as one family. He observed that the Great Lakes region has come to be known as the ark of Africa's conflicts because of the region's inordinate number of violent and deadly conflicts. Peace and sustainable development have become the buzzwords of Africa in our era, added the AACC president, pointing out that: "There have been various commitments, but a commitment is in essence only a promise. We have accordingly come to learn that a commitment alone is not enough."
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