Global Church Bodies Take On World Suffering

( [email protected] ) Jan 26, 2007 01:27 PM EST

Church groups and Christian organizations join 46,000 people in Kenya to take a proactive stance when it comes to combating the world’s top social problems.

Groups such as the World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) are participating at the 7th World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 20-25. This is the first time WSF has been held entirely in Africa.

“The best thing the WSF can be is a forum for meeting others who are working in similar issues to yours and making contacts with resource people outside our family,” said Peter Prove, assistant to the LWF general secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights in a briefing in Nairobi on Saturday, according to Lutheran World Information.

Over 50,000 Lutheran delegates are attending the Nairobi forum.

WSF was created to challenge the World Economic Forum and convenes activists, NGOs, and others to discuss issues such as poverty, disease, trade, and human rights.

At this year’s WSF, the World Council of Churches arranged a workshop this week on wealth, poverty and ecology. Speakers spoke about the imbalance of wealth and called for more sharing. Solutions such as micro-credit, including involvement from churches, were suggested.

WCC consists of 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries. The ecumenical body has a long history of speaking out on social issues.

Meanwhile, African church leaders addressed some of the problems on the continent. The AACC spoke about how many African Pentecostal preachers promise prosperity to poor Africans but instead get rich themselves while the congregation gets poor.

Other church leaders criticized the western nations for designing and carrying out programs for Africa without involving the local people.

“A new Africa is possible, but only if we approach issues with a new heart and vision,” said Abadam at a Tuesday workshop to Catholic Information Service for Africa.

Abadam was joined by other African clerics who argued that Africa is being used as an experimental ground by some organizations to test ideas. The church leaders also criticized some African governments’ insensitivity towards the opinions of their people.

“This has led to the rise of police states, where certain governments are using the police and military to quell any dissenting voices in their countries," said Abadam.

The 7th World Social Forum will conclude on Thursday.