Global churches' peace convention prepares for take-off in Jamaica

By staff writers
11 May 2011

Resounding to the voices of major speakers including Martin Luther King III and German Lutheran pastor Dr Margot Kassmann, the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) will begin next week.

This major event, organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC), is to take place at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston, Jamaica.

'Glory to God and Peace on Earth' will be the lead theme of the IEPC, which aims at strengthening Christian witness to the Peace of God as a gift and responsibility of the churches and the world. The convocation runs from 17-25 May 2011.

The IEPC is the culmination of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) programme authorised by the WCC at its 1998 Harare Assembly and initiated in 2001. The event will bring some 1,000 participants from around the globe, representing WCC member constituencies, ecumenical and civil society networks working in the area of peace and justice.

Hosted by the Jamaican Council of Churches and the Caribbean Council of Churches, the IEPC will be the major ecumenical event prior to the 10th Assembly of the WCC in 2013 in Busan, Korea.

“The IEPC comes at a time when the world is experiencing significant political paradigm shifts, and much of this is coming with violence and conflict,” said WCC General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

He continued: “This event brings the peace movements and church leaders together and offers space and time to explore the role of the church and religion as peacemaker. We will ask one another what it means to follow Christ today and tomorrow.”

“But peace is not just about ending conflicts,” Dr Tveit declared. “It is also about seeking justice and building sustainable conditions for peace. We find the need for just peace in the economy, peace among peoples and cultures and peace within communities and with the earth.”

The primary goal of the IEPC is to contribute to the efforts to create a culture of just peace and to facilitate new networks that will focus on peace in communities and the world.

Four thematic foci of the IEPC will be on peace in the community, peace with the earth, peace in the marketplace and peace among the peoples. These themes will be addressed through various components of the convocation - spiritual life, Bible studies, plenary sessions, workshops and seminars.

“The IEPC will be an occasion to reaffirm the ecumenical family’s commitment to just peace by way of proclaiming a call to just peace,’’ said Dr Mathews George Chunakara, director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs who is heading the IEPC preparation and planning team of the WCC.

“The IEPC will also be an occasion for seeking to assess and strengthen the church's position on peace, provide new opportunities to establish networking and deepen our collective efforts and joint commitments to processes and avenues that will lead to a culture of just peace in a complex world situation,” Chunakara concluded.

On Sunday 22 May 2011, participants of the IEPC will join in a worldwide event when churches are invited to celebrate God’s gift of peace. Those who take part will be together in spirit, song and prayer with the IEPC participants in Jamaica, united in the hope of peace.

Speakers at the convocation include King and Kassmann, the WCC General Secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the Rev Dr Paul Gardner of Jamaica, Ernestina Lopez Bac of Guatemala, Metropolitan Dr Hilarion of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canon Paul Oestreicher of New Zealand and the UK, and a dozen others from churches and religious communities around the world.

The daily plenary sessions and discussions will be broadcast live via web streaming. To watch the sessions, observers can go to the IEPC web page www.overcomingviolence.org.

On Friday 20 May, a peace concert will be held in Emancipation Park, Kingston, featuring a number of Jamaican acts including the Fab Five, one of the top bands in Jamaica.

* More information on World Sunday for Peace: http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation/world-sunday-for-...

* How to participate in IPEC online: http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation/online-participat...

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