From the Worldwide Faith News archives

NCCC USA Peace Delegation meets with Chancellor Gerhard

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Wed, 05 Feb 2003 16:25:45 -0800

National Council of Churches Delegation, on Peace Mission in Berlin,
Meets with 15 European Counterparts, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder

     BERLIN, February 5 - A delegation from the National Council of Churches
(U.S.) met in Berlin today with 15 of their European counterparts to discuss
their mutual concerns about a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
     Following a press conference, they had a one-hour private conversation
with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
     At the same time the religious group was meeting in Berlin, the United
Nations Security Council was hearing a report by U.S. Secretary of State
Colin Powell, making the Bush Administrations case for an invasion.
     Chancellor Schroeder, whom the group said spoke frankly and clearly,
reaffirmed his intention to maintain Germanys stance that there is no
compelling reason to rush to war with Iraq.
     He emphasized that he is no pacifist but that Germany believes war
should not be just one more tool to be used routinely, the delegates
     Schroeder reminded the church officials that he had staked his career on
changing German foreign policy to allow the deployment of 10,000 troops now
on the ground in Afghanistan and the Balkans, but that his government did
not think the use of military force would be useful in the Iraqi case.
     The delegation said Shroeder emphasized that Germany is not taking an
anti-American position, nor does it lack a commitment to fighting
terrorism.  He said Germany simply disagrees on the necessity of going to
war with Iraq, they reported.

Participants From Throughout Europe

The American delegation, led by General Secretary Bob Edgar of the National
Council of Churches, included James Winkler of the United Methodist Board of
Church and Society, and Rebecca Larson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.  They expressed their appreciation to the Europeans for inviting
them to Berlin, and for the expressed desire to work closely with American
churches, Winkler said.
     Delegation members said they were surprised by the extensive media
interest in the meeting.  The press conference was documented by 14
television cameras and approximately 40 reporters.  In a statement released
to reporters, the group of religious leaders deplored that the most
powerful nations of this world again regard war as an acceptable instrument
of foreign policy.  This creates an international culture of fear, threat
and insecurity.
     The European meeting was convened by the World Council of Churches at
the initiative of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland.  In addition to
their German hosts, the meeting drew church officials from ten other
countries - France, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria, Greece,
Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The Middle East Council of Churches was
also represented.

Visits to Four Other European Capitals Planned

     The National Council of Churches visit to Berlin is the first of five
such missions to major European capitals planned by the American church
leaders.  Other cities will include Paris, London, Moscow and Rome, NCCs
Edgar said.
     In the absence of compelling evidence that Iraq poses an imminent
military threat, we will continue to press for a peaceful solution in which
the innocent families of Iraq are spared the terrible scourge of war, said
Dr. Edgar. Even in the face of the Administrations insistence that a war
is unavoidable, he continued, we believe America can win without war.


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