From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Church World Service Leading Peace Delegation to West Africa

From "Carol Fouke" <>
Date Mon, 3 Jun 2002 12:40:07 -0400

Church World Service/National Council of Churches News


June 3, 2002, NEW YORK CITY - International humanitarian agency Church World
Service Executive Director John L. McCullough will lead a nine-member
delegation to West Africa in July, responding to a call for help from
churches in the region that have reached out to each other across national
borders to work for peace.

On the schedule for July 2-18 are meetings with the presidents of Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Gambia; ecumenical and interfaith councils in the
four countries, and U.S. ambassadors to each country.

CWS goal: strengthening partner churches work for peace, human rights,
reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainable development in a region
wracked by political instability, poverty, fighting and massive displacement
of people within and across borders.

The councils of churches along with an interreligious group in the Mano
River Union countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone pressed their
countries presidents to meet together twice in the past 18 months to
address the urgent issues facing their countries, said the Rev. McCullough.
Now they are asking us to meet with their presidents to strengthen the
churches work for peace and human rights.

Added the Rev. McCullough, Were watching Liberia with both anxiety at the
worsening security situation and hope that a much-anticipated peace
conference can take place in Monrovia in July.

Church World Service is an international humanitarian agency of 36
Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations - comprising 50 million U.S.
Christians - the member denominations of the National Council of Churches

Founded in 1946 to help meet needs in post-World War II Europe, CWS now
works in partnership with local organizations in more than 80 countries,
including the United States, to support sustainable self-help development,
meet emergency needs, aid refugees and address the root causes of poverty
and powerlessness.

Church World Service has responded to numerous relief and rehabilitation
appeals from its denominational and ecumenical partners in the Mano River
Union countries, especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia over the past
decade-plus of civil strife.

To help meet the needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and others
in need in the region, CWS has provided food, medicine and medical
personnel, shelter, health and school supplies, water and sanitation
facilities and agricultural rehabilitation.  Church World Service has worked
to build local church leaders capacity to respond to emergency needs with
training in trauma counseling and emergency management.  The most recent
such training was during the week of May 27-31 in Monrovia.

Through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of State, Church
World Service administers the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) in Accra,
Ghana, which assists in the resettlement of refugees from West African
countries.  Church World Service also has provided small grants for relief
and development projects in Gambia and Guinea.

The Church World Service delegation visit to the region in July and a
subsequent program planning team visit are steps toward defining future CWS
support for ecumenical partners in West Africa and generating better
understanding of the West Africa region among American Christians, the Rev.
McCullough said.

That work, in turn, takes place in the context of Church World Services
growing work to address problems of health, hunger and malnutrition, poverty
and self-sufficiency across Africa.

Following our visit we will work with our membership to be supportive of
the need for peace and reconciliation in the Mano River Union countries, and
in particular the work of the United Nations and the Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS), he said.  We would especially like to draw
to their attention the plight of women and children, including child
soldiers; HIV/AIDS, and internally displaced persons and refugees.

Church World Service wrote U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and United
Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in March to inform them of the West
Africa delegation visit and to seek their support.  CWS also met on April 4
with U.S. State Department staff to discuss the upcoming trip.

Subsequently, Donald Booth, Director of the U.S. State Departments Office
of West African Affairs, wrote the Rev. McCullough welcoming the CWS effort.
We have notified our Ambassadors in the region of your impending trip, and
they and their embassies will be pleased to meet your delegation and to
provide any appropriate support, Booth wrote on April 11.

And on May 17, Ibrahima Fall, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Political
Affairs, wrote on Mr. Annans behalf, welcoming the proposed visit and
commending the efforts of the civil society and religious leaders to assist
in the quest for peace and reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainable
development in that part of West Africa with which the United Nations and
its partner, ECOWAS, have been preoccupied for many years.  I wish to assure
you that you have the full moral support of the United Nations in this

The CWS delegation expects to spend:
July 2-6 in Guinea, hosted by the Guinean Council of Churches;
July 6-9 in Gambia, hosted by the Gambian Council of Churches;
July 9-14 in Sierra Leone, hosted by the Council of Churches in Sierra
Leone, and
July 14-18 in Liberia, hosted by the Liberian Council of Churches.

Delegation members include the Rev. McCullough; the Rev. Benjamin
Musoke-Lubega of The Episcopal Church, New York City; the Rev. Philip Reed
of Missionaries of Africa (Roman Catholic), Washington, D.C.; Ms. Susan
Sanders of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio, and Bishop McKinley
Young of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dallas, Texas.

CWS staff participating in the delegation will include Victor Hsu, Senior
Advisor to the CWS Executive Director; Kirsten Laursen, CWS Deputy Director
of Programs; Moses Ole Sakuda, Associate Director, CWS Mission Relationships
and Witness Program, and Carol Fouke, Media Liaison.

West African church leaders will return the CWS delegations visit in fall
2002 and spring 2003.


Contacts: Carol Fouke, 212-870-2252 and Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526

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