Hundreds of Christian leaders marched to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives and convey their message of social justice and peace to cap off a large annual ecumenical gathering Monday.
The President of the National Council of Churches USA, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, in preparation for Monday’s advocacy told participants of the Ecumenical Advocacy Days that Christians have a biblical responsibility to help the poor and ease suffering around the world, according to NCCUSA.
Aykazian gave the Sunday message standing on a platform surrounded with portraits of Iraqi refugees and the boots of American soldiers killed in Iraq – symbols of people who need Christian support.
"We must act together to bring justice and freedom to people all over the world," he urged, "Because it is the right thing to do."
Between 26,000 to 30,000 children die each day due to poverty, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
"Each day!" Aykazian said. "They (children) die in small villages far from the lenses of television cameras. We must help them, we simply must. Our faith must inspire us to act."
After the Sunday message, delegates to the ecumenical gathering anointed one another with oil to call on God’s blessing for each other when they take their message to Capitol Hill.
The theme of this year's Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference was "2008: Claiming Vision of True Security," with Aykazian stressing the message of previous speakers that true security is not achieved through military intervention.
"We have come together these past few days to figure out what this should mean to us, perhaps generating a new collective understanding of what security means and how we can achieve it," he said. "Can we signify something other than the methods and means of defense? I believe we can, and we should. We must rely on our faith, where we will find our security."
Other issues discussed during the ecumenical gathering were U.S. involvement in Iraq, American dependence on oil, security issues, poverty, and the war on terror.
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community that originated in the National Council of Churches USA to strengthen the Christian voice and mobilize for advocacy on a wide range of U.S. domestic and international policy issues. It began in 2003 with some 400 religious advocates, and grew to more than 1,000 leaders in 2007.