WORLD CHURCH LEADER RAISER, SAMOA PRIME MINISTER TUILAEPA SHARE CONCERNS OVER

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APIA, Samoa (March 28, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Shared concerns about global warming and transportation of nuclear materials through the Pacific were the focus of discussion between Samoa's prime minister and the World Council of Churches general secretary

The talks between Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and General Secretary Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser took place during a first visit by a council general secretary to Samoa and American Samoa.

A World Council of Churches statement said Raiser met with Samoan church and government leaders. He then traveled on for visits to American Samoa, the Cook Islands, and French Polynesia.

The statement said that in a briefing by the President of the Methodist Church in Samoa, Rev. Faatoese Auvaa, the World Council of Churches delegation heard that Samoa's churches' four main concerns are:

Asked for his key message to leaders in the two Samoas, the statement said Raiser stated: "We can no longer close our eyes to changes taking place in the transition to the 21st century. Reference to traditions alone will not help deal with these challenges.

"The fellowship of the WCC is the place where the churches in the two Samoas can build on the experience of others who have had to deal with similar situations. They do not have to deal with these challenges alone."

Other talks with church leaders in both countries centered on the need to develop new ecumenical leadership.

The delegation visited the Malua and Puila theological colleges in Samoa and the Kanana Fou theological seminary in American Samoa.

Raiser called on the council and its member churches "to do all we can to contribute to training future leadership in an ecumenical spirit. The generation of those who shaped the ecumenical movement in the Pacific is aging.

"The task of leadership development has been identified. Here the WCC needs to recognize a responsibility. Therefore, the area of active cooperation must now be supplemented by the educational dimension for both theological students and lay people. A good beginning has been made with the formation of a network for lay leadership in the Pacific."

Asked by students at Maul College in Samoa about the role of the WICK in the 21st century, Raiser suggested that, in the face of globalization, "the WCC can be an instrument for churches to lobby on the world stage".

He pointed to increasing contact among people from different faith groups. He said that such contacts require a fundamental rethinking of mission activities so that Christians can learn what it means to be part of a missionary church while at the same time respecting other faith traditions.

Samoan women prepared the liturgy of the World Day of Prayer, celebrated on Friday, March 2 this year in gatherings around the world. Meeting with leaders of the Congregational Christian Church in Samoa, the WCC delegation expressed its appreciation for this important contribution to the worldwide ecumenical movement.

On its arrival in American Samoa, the WCC delegation was greeted at the airport by the governor, Tauese Pita Sunia. The governor is also chairman of the National Council of Churches of American Samoa and of the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa.

Raiser also enjoyed a cordial, informal meeting with Catholic Bishop Witzel in American Samoa, the statement said.

The delegation was continuing its two-week trip in the Pacific region with visits to member churches in the Cook Islands and in French Polynesia.

Members of the delegation are: Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, Dr. Elisabeth Raiser, Ms. Kristine Greenaway, and Mr. John Taroanui Doom (Tahiti)

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of 342 churches in more than 100 countries in all continents. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years.

Its staff is headed by Dr. Raiser, who is from the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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