The immense responsibility of the US churches in the world today was highlighted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia during the annual meeting of the US member churches of the WCC taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, 5-6 October 2004.

In the keynote speech of the opening session Kobia affirmed the work for peace and justice done by the US churches as well as the support of Christians worldwide for their efforts.

Given that the US is now the worlds only superpower and that its policies and actions have consequences for every country in the world, people around the world are afraid of US power and the way it is being used.

In this context, US churches are expected to continue to advocate for a responsible use of power, while their responsibility to speak truth to power becomes difficult and risky.

This is precisely why churches worldwide are mobilized in support of communities in the US that uphold another power, the power of peace, in all places and at all times, stated Kobia. They expect much from you, because indeed much has been given to you, he added.

While affirming the vitality and creativity of peace and justice work in the US, which has in many ways been an inspiration for people everywhere, Kobia also stressed the importance of grounding that work in spiritual discernment and prayer.

The responsibility of the US churches was also underlined by the senior pastor of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Rev. Dr Joseph L. Roberts, Jr. Preaching the homily at the opening worship of the meeting and quoting Martin Luther King, Jr, Roberts emphasized that true love is a painful embrace.

As God painfully embraces the world with all its evils, asked Roberts, will our arms reach those who are suffering from Beslan to Abu Ghraib, from Darfur to the thousands of women and children introduced every year into the US and sold into forced labour and prostitution?

Atlanta welcomes the US conference annual meeting

As Atlantans and as Americans, we applaud the WCC for its tireless pursuit of peace and justice throughout our global community and for initiating the Decade to Overcome Violence, stated Atlantas Mayor Shirley Franklin at a press conference held at the City Hall after the opening session of the meeting.

The mayor welcomed the WCC gathering, presenting the council with the citys Phoenix Award for its commitment to reconciliation and the eradication of violence. In accepting the award the WCC general secretary recognized the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr, a hero to thousands and millions, whose lives have been transformed by his message.

Also participating at the press conference were: Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, WCC president from North America; Martin Luther King III, honorary chair of the Atlanta Ecumenical Planning Committee; Rev. Dr T. DeWitt Smith, Jr, moderator of the Atlanta Ecumenical Planning Committee; Rev. Dr Angelique Walker-Smith, chair of the US Conference annual meeting Planning Committee; Rev. Deborah DeWinter, WCC programme executive for the US.

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