The World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) Asia Focus 2005 was formally launched during the 12th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 31 March to 6 April 2005.
“Asia will be the window for the rest of the world through which the eyes of the world will see how overcoming violence is being done by the churches in Asia,” said the WCC General Secretary Dr Sam Kobia at the formal launch of the DOV Asia Focus 2005 on the same theme as of the general assembly, “Building communities of peace for all.”
Asia will be in the limelight this year and the WCC will highlight the Asian stories to the world about how violence is being overcome in this region. While Asian churches are focused on overcoming violence, the world will focus on Asia, he told a gathering of church leaders and representatives.
The Rev Rothnangllliani Chhangte, a “living letter” from the DOV committee in the USA read a letter addressed to the churches in Asia. The letter expressed the view that Asia, which has the potential to become economically prosperous in the near future, is also likely to see increasing disparities of health and wealth.
“These disparities represent forms of injustice that are themselves forms of violence and that may in turn lead to political violence, greater oppression, or both,” it cautioned.
The letter concluded by saying that, “For the peace we seek is life in Christ, a dynamic life of well-being, reconciliation, and healing even in the face of harsh and difficult circumstances.”
Speaking on the occasion, Rev Hansulrich Gerber, WCC’s DOV coordinator said that the DOV called churches, ecumenical organisation and all people of goodwill to work together at local, regional, and global level with communities, secular movements, and people of all living faiths for peace, justice and reconciliation.
The DOV called on churches to repent for their complicity in violence, and to engage in theological reflections to overcome the spirit, logic and practice of violence, he told the assembly participants.
“Addressing holistically the wide varieties of violence, both direct and structural, in homes, communities and international arenas, and learning from the local and regional analysis of violence and ways to overcome violence,” are some of the goals of the DOV, according to Gerber.
He said that an estimated 1.6 million people lost their lives to violence in 2000.
Ms Ralphine Razak Manantenasoa from Madagascar shared a message of peace with the assembly. The CCA General Secretary Dr Ahn Jae Woong assured the assembly of the CCA’s commitment in building communities of peace for all for the next five years.
As a symbolic gesture, the WCC gave the CCA a “survival kit” containing mainly DOV-related documents and publications, which was received by the DOV Focus on Asia coordinator Hope Antone.