From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Council approves resolution calling on President Bush to advocate

Date 24 Feb 2001 08:10:35

Note #6395 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

for war-torn Congo (revised)

Council approves resolution calling on President Bush to advocate for
war-torn Congo

by Bill Lancaster

LOUISVILLE -- The General Assembly Council today approved a resolution which
would call upon President George W. Bush and the Congress of the United
States to advocate for specific steps toward the establishment of peace and
stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

	The Council thus joined with the voice of the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church of Congo, representing 800,000 members, in calling
national and international attention to the war-torn region.

	The resolution specifically calls upon the United States government to
advocate for:

* a full and open dialogue in the Congo involving all parties to the
* withdrawal of all foreign troops;
* a comprehensive United Nations peacekeeping presence;
* free and fair elections of leaders for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

	 The resolution originated with the Ecumenical Partnership Program Area
Committee of the Worldwide Ministries Division. The Council approved it
without dissent.  It now goes to the 213th General Assembly (2001).

	The resolution calls upon President Bush and his administration "to speak
out on behalf of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, working
within the international community to address the regional war being waged
in that nation" and advocating for the specific steps listed above.

	It also calls upon the leaders of neighboring nations who have invaded
Congo to honor the Lusaka Peace Accords and United Nations resolutions on
Congo.  These nations primarily are: Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, Namibia, and
Zimbabwe.  And, among other things, it calls on Presbyterians to pray for
the people of Congo and adjoining regions " ... that they may find a way to
peace and justice and may be able to restore their nation's infrastructure,
economy, social services and educational system."

	Doug Welch, Coordinator for Central and West Africa in the Ecumenical
Partnership Program Area, said it is very important to support the
Presbyterian Church in Congo. "They are particularly looking to hear from
their brothers and sisters in the United States to speak out on their
behalf," Welch said. "It is important that we support the efforts that are
moving toward peace in that country and also to show our solidarity with our
brothers and sisters there.  That's an encouragement that they need to

	Welch said national and international action is urgently needed at this
time.  "The Congo is poised to finally have an opportunity for peace to
happen there.  The history of the country is such that the international
community had a hand in what's going on there, and it's time for us to try
to secure peace both through the United Nations and through our church

	Welch said there is a window of opportunity in Congo that has not been
present before. "The actions of President Joseph Kabila have been to reverse
some of the actions of his late father [President Laurent Kabila] and
provide opportunities for some movement toward the Lusaka Accords and
actually start to do something."

	Welch said,  "Even today there was a report from the United Nations. They
are talking about moving the warring factions out of the Congo, and they
have set a date of May 15th, which is exciting to us.  We're hoping that
comes to pass.  It is certainly a movement toward stability in the country
and a chance for some dialogue which could give the people of the Congo an
opportunity to select their own leader."

	Marian McClure, director of the Worldwide Ministries Division, said, "when
the Congolese church leaders were here for a consultation in September, I
scheduled a private session with them in my office and wanted to talk with
them about what their major concerns were.  This was a major concern for
them, and that makes it a major concern for us."

	McClure said Kabila " ... is young and newly installed needing to pull
people together and confirm his leadership.  This is an opportunity to
signal to them how he can do that."

	Bill Simmons, who served as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionary in
the Congo from 1981 to 1998, said the people of the Congo have a long
history of suffering for 30 years under President Mobutu.  When Laurent
Kabila became president, he said, "it didn't get any better."

	Simmons said, "they've had the internal refugee situation, they've had
refugees from other countries, they've had armies and troops from multiple
other countries entering their country on one or the other side of this
conflict, and it's always the ordinary people who suffer.  It's almost
impossible for me to describe this suffering. What little infrastructure was
left has continued to be destroyed and deteriorate, people are dying from
diseases that we thought were eradicated a long time ago, the most simple
medications are not available, all because of the infrastructure breakdown
and the conflict.  Almost anywhere you turn, there is a heartbreaking

                    Chair elected

	The Worldwide Ministries Division reported to the Council that they have
elected the Rev. Dwight White to be chair and the Rev. Raymond Anglin vice
chair. They serve a one?year term beginning after the 213th General Assembly
	White is a retired pastor living in Ryegate, Vermont, in the Presbytery of
Northern New England.  Anglin is pastor of the Ascension Peace Presbyterian
Church in Lauderhill, Florida, in the Presbytery of Tropical Florida.

                    Missionary honored

	Council also joined with the Worldwide Ministries Division in sending warm
greetings to Ms Janette Howland on her 105th birthday. Howland applied for
mission service in 1921 and served in northern India, now Pakistan, for 23

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