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21.04.05 11:34 Age: 7 yrs

International Mission and Evangelism Conference to be held in Athens, Greece

At the invitation of the Orthodox Church in Greece, an international Mission and Evangelism conference convened by the World Council of Churches will take place in Athens, Greece from May 9 to May 16, 2005. There have been thirteen WCC mission conferences that have taken place since 1910, but this will be the first time it takes place in an Orthodox-majority country.

The arrival by boat of a 13-foot cross made of olive wood by a Jerusalem craftsman will begin the conference. Brought from the Middle East and received by people from all over the world, this cross is intended to be a symbol of reconciliation and healing, as well as a symbol of solidarity with Christians in the Middle East.

The themes of the conference that will be addressed in daily plenary sessions are "Come, Holy Spirit, Heal and Reconcile" and "Called in Christ to be Reconciling and Healing Communities." Seventy workshops on a variety of cutting-edge topics such as mission in war and conflict situations, women in mission, and the missionary challenge of serving people with HIV/AIDS will be offered. Specific case studies on, for example, the reconciliation process in Rwanda and Christian witness in China are also part of the workshop program.

Representatives from all WCC member churches, the Roman Catholic church, and various Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions who are church and mission leaders, theologians and missiologists as well as youth, women and men involved in missions will attend. More than 500 participants from all continents will gather to discuss priorities in mission and the future of Christian witness. Among the 500 will be Fr. Martin Ritsi, Executive Director of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center and a member of the WCC Commission of World Mission and Evangelism.

A procession led by the olive-wood cross from Jerusalem to the very spot where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians will end the conference. Participants will then be sent out into the world to fulfill Christ's command to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God to all nations.

For more information about the conference please go to www.mission2005.org.