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WCC Calls for Renewed Fellowship in Light of Renewed US Leadership

''We do not ask whose side God was on in this election. Rather, like Abraham Lincoln when he confronted a divisive war, we seek to be found on God's side''
( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2004 06:12 PM EST

"The choice of the US president is of great concern not only to the people of the USA but also to people across the world,¡± was the message delivered by the World Council of Churches¡¯ General Secretary to the member churches in US on Nov. 3, 2004. The letter, which was sent in the hours prior to the announcement of President Bush¡¯s victory, iterated the WCC¡¯s desire to walk alongside US in creating a more just, equal and peaceful world, no matter which party gains victory.

¡°We ask God's grace and peace for you and for the person who will finally be chosen as leader of your country. We send this letter to encourage and support you in these important times, and to renew our fellowship in the unity of the Holy Spirit and in the bonds of peace,¡± said the Rev. Samuel Kobia.

Kobia explained the WCC¡±s belief that God is nonpartisan: "We do not ask whose side God was on in this election. Rather, like Abraham Lincoln when he confronted a divisive war, we seek to be found on God's side.¡±

Ultimately, Kobia called on the US to lead the world in bringing justice and change to the international community.

¡°People all over the world recognize what the US can offer. By being a country open to newcomers of different cultures and creeds. By trusting the rule of law. By supporting democracy and the freedom of speech. By being ready to take action when the international community, through the United Nations, asks for US participation and leadership. By being generous to those in need. By addressing the root causes of poverty and social injustice, within the US as well as globally,¡± said Kobia.

¡°On this third day of November, 2004, we pray that we may answer the challenges before us in faith and in love, together.¡±

The following is the full text of the message as released by the WCC on Nov. 3:

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Grace to you and peace in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I am writing to you, the member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the United States of America, on behalf of your extended church family around the world.

We ask God's grace and peace for you and for the person who will finally be chosen as leader of your country. We send this letter to encourage and support you in these important times, and to renew our fellowship in the unity of the Holy Spirit and in the bonds of peace.

The choice of the US president is of great concern not only to the people of the USA but also to people across the world. Though we are confident that God¡¯s Holy Spirit, the advocate and comforter, is with us, many people in the world today confess to feeling afraid for the future. People feel fear of terrorism, fear of old struggles newly re-branded as terrorism, and fear of fear itself in the service of great power.

Yet this letter is not about fear. It commends God¡¯s all-embracing grace and peace to you, in faith and with goodwill.

Know that we stand with you, as sisters and brothers, in the hope that only God can give. That hope reminds us that fear is no match for the recognition of God¡¯s presence in our lives which sustains our faith. We can look with confidence to the days ahead because there is far more that unites us as people of faith than separates us as citizens of a divided world. We are all members of Christ¡¯s body. Nothing - no terror, no fear, no lie - can ever separate us.

We do not ask whose side God was on in this election. Rather, like Abraham Lincoln when he confronted a divisive war, we seek to be found on God's side. We pray that all people of faith with the help of God's Spirit may discern what is good for the world.

Many people have watched the US closely in recent months, with great interest in how churches shape a powerful nation¡¯s stance toward the world. The harsh claims that make most of the headlines, that invoke the judgement of a partisan god, have provoked deep concern around the world.

How different it is, however, when churches offer a moral and spiritual compass for their community, their nation and the world. They are a voice for the good of all, and are seen as such. They love the whole world; they pray for God to bless the lands of others. People far and near - especially our cousins of other faiths - await such signs from all of us.

As fellow citizens of the world, we wish you peace. Half a century ago, with US leadership, an international community convinced of the need for change, gave birth to the United Nations, to the UN Charter, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the Geneva Convention, and much more. The shared purpose then was to secure peace and promote human security. At that time, churches and their members added greatly to the process and did not go unheard. They served as a moral conscience for their time.

Today, too, people all over the world recognize what the US can offer. By being a country open to newcomers of different cultures and creeds. By trusting the rule of law. By supporting democracy and the freedom of speech. By being ready to take action when the international community, through the United Nations, asks for US participation and leadership. By being generous to those in need. By addressing the root causes of poverty and social injustice, within the US as well as globally. As churches, we are asked to be involved and contribute to such political directions.

The WCC member churches in the US have been active in forming the mind of the ecumenical movement throughout its history. As a worldwide family of more than 340 churches, we share with each other and with the wider world the privilege of living for a purpose deeper than economic success and working for goals greater than national security.

On this third day of November, 2004, we pray that we may answer the challenges before us in faith and in love, together.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

WCC General Secretary