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Global Christian Leaders Gather Next Week

CLEVELAND, OH - Cleveland will be the host city for a global conference to discuss churches' attitudes and responses to racism. Members of the World Council of Churches will convene at the United Church of Christ's national headquarters in downtown Cleveland Aug. 26-29 to discuss rationale and strategies for ecumenical engagement on issues of race and xenophobia.
 
Some 30 participants, each engaged in churches' anti-racism work in various parts of the world, will look into creative ways in which churches can continue to foster just and inclusive communities. They will also consider what churches stand to gain from continued engagement.
 
Hosted by the 1.1-million-member United Church of Christ, the conference is being organized in cooperation with the Dutch missionary and diaconal agency Kerk in Actie.
 
While the struggle against racism has been a formative and highly visible priority for the ecumenical movement in the past, diverging views have developed as to whether churches should pursue the issue. In preparation for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, to take place in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2011, a reflection on just peace from the perspective of those struggling against racism and caste-based discrimination will also be on the agenda of the conference in Cleveland.
 
Special attention will be paid to the presence of racism within the churches and the indifference of many Christians not personally affected by discrimination. One issue is whether latent racism in established Christian communities is driving migrants to form churches based on racial and ethnic identities.
 
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity. The WCC brings together 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.
 
The United Church of Christ, a member of the World Council of Churches, has more than 5,000 local congregations in the United States.
 



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