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Back to Press Releases main page > May 2008

Jamaica to host WCC peace convocation

Kingston, Jamaica, will be the host city for the World Council of Churches'(WCC) International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in 2011.

This was the final decision of the WCC’s Central Committee meeting in Geneva on February 15, 2008. There were other contending venues considered, Nairobi, Kenya being the other finalist.

The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), in partnership with the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), invited the WCC to host the IEPC in Kingston.

The CCC and JCC, through their respective general secretaries – Gerard Granado and Rev. Gary Harriott – formally extended the invitation in a joint February 11 letter to WCC general secretary, Rev Dr Samuel Kobia.

“The Caribbean has had a history of violence dating from the period of institutional slavery, into the colonial and post-colonial periods. Today, many of our Caribbean territories are significantly challenged by the increase in crime and violence.

In particular, there is great concern regarding the number of young males who have become involved in such anti-social behaviour, as well as the number of families, schools and communities that have been affected.

We have recognized that it will take a multi-sectoral approach to deal with this phenomenal challenge and that the church is a key player in such an initiative,” the letter stated.

The convocation will meet under the theme "Glory to God and peace on earth". It will be the culmination of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), which has sought to network and bring attention to the peacemaking initiatives of its various member churches.

Rev. Dr Fernando Enns, moderator of the Decade to Overcome Violence Reference Group, said he felt Kingston would be a good site for this major peace event.

"Kingston has been with the DOV since the very beginning," said Enns, noting that Kingston was one of seven cities in the "Peace to the City" campaign that preceded the DOV emphasis. He also observed that there have not been major ecumenical gatherings in the Caribbean region.

A series of "expert consultations" on a variety of peace and reconciliation-related topics are taking place as momentum builds toward the convocation. Five took place in 2007, and eight more are planned for this year.

An Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace is being drafted. It will be circulated among member churches, and a working draft will ultimately be taken to the convocation for action.

"The peace convocation should be a milestone in our ecumenical deliberations on peace and justice", Enns said. "It is not only preaching to the world, but reflecting on ourselves".

Planners estimate 2,000 or more people will participate in the IEPC.

World Council of Churches (WCC), Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) and Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) staff are seen with thePrincipal of Jamaica's Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies
(UWI), Professor Gordon Shirley.

Back row from left are: UWI's Professor Gordon Shirley; CCC's General
Secretary, Mr. Gerard Granado; and WCC's Programme Executive for Spirituality, Latin America and the Caribbean Rev. Dr. Carlos Ham and its Coordinator, Decade to Overcome Violence, Rev. Hansulrich Gerber.

Front row from left are: CCC's Senior Programme Officer, Rev. Livingstone Malcolm and JCC's General Secretary, Rev. Gary Harriott

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