Delegates from Churches Across West Africa Gather for the First Ecumenical Peace Forum

( [email protected] ) Oct 24, 2003 04:54 PM EDT

The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone began their first West African Ecumenical Peace Forum, Wednesday, October 22. Delegates from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast, The Gambia and Burkina Faso gathered to discuss the role church must take during times of political and social strife.

The Secretary General of the Council of Christian Churches in the West African region, Mr. Baffour D. Amoa, in explaining why they chose to hold the conference in Sierra Leone, said we must all try to learn from history. Developing countries must know what role churches play in bringing lasting peace, he said.

Recalling that the region once enjoyed peace during the 1960s and 1970s, Amoa emphasized the possibility to end the rampant civil conflicts in the current age. Peace is vital for the development of any nation, he said, and people have to make sacrifices to live in peace.

In his statement, the general secretary of the Liberian Council of Churches, Mr. Benjamin Dorme Lartey disclosed that many church leaders have been to jail because of their failure to support political leaders.

During the reign of president Charles Taylor, Lartey said, council leaders suggested to the international community that "election was not the panacea to lasting peace" but they failed to listen. Today, he said, the international community must realize the critical role the church must make in maintaining peace.