Church organizations appeal for calm in Madagascar

Church organizations appeal for calm in Madagascar

March 18, 2009
Written by Gregg Brekke

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Council for World Mission (CWM) are appealing for calm in Madagascar following a change of government after weeks of violence in the country.

"Our concern at this time is for the peace and welfare of all the peoples of Madagascar," says WARC's general secretary, Setri Nyomi. "We call on all parties to consider the will of the people in seeking the best way to ensure good governance now and in the future."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Madagascar, the largest Protestant church in the country, is a member of WARC and CWM. On Tuesday the church's president, Lala Rasendrahasina, was detained briefly by unidentified elements in the military following a meeting at the offices of the Christian Council of Churches of Madagascar.

Noting attempts over the past weeks by the Christian Council of Churches to convene a conference of reconciliation, CWM's general secretary, Desmond van der Water says, "We recognize the role that churches in Madagascar might play in reconciliation initiatives at this time and we pray for wisdom and understanding to guide their way."

"We are asking our member churches worldwide to keep the churches and all the peoples of Madagascar in their prayers," says Nyomi. "We affirm our continued commitment during this period of uncertainty and insecurity."

Van der Water adds, "The CWM global community of churches joins with our friends and colleagues at WARC in praying for renewed hope in a peaceful and harmonious future for all the peoples of Madagascar."

UCC ecumenical partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), reported the evacuation of Mission personnel serving in the Republic of Madagascar as of March 16.

The U.S. ambassador to Madagascar advised some Americans to leave Madagascar for their safety. An ELCA health care worker and regional representatives, working with the Malagasy Lutheran Church (Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy), evacuated the island.

The 3 million-member Malagasy Lutheran Church is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. It has nine hospitals and 13 dispensaries, schools and a seminary. The church focuses on evangelism, social ministry and leadership development.

The UCC is a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) which brings together 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries - united in their commitment to making a difference in a troubled world. The WARC general secretary is Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. WARC's secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland. 

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