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Message from the General Secretary

Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs

Dear friends

Each Monday morning at our National Council of Churches in Australia office, a number of staff gather for prayer. We reflect on the readings from the liturgy of the previous day, include in our intentions one of our member churches and one of our state councils or WCC of the Christian Conference of Asia. We pray with and for the prayers provided by the World Council of Churches for countries throughout the world. This week we prayed for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. 

My knowledge of other countries is very limited, sometimes; I try to learn something about whatever countries we are praying for that week. Sometimes, I simply rely on the intercessions and prayers provided by WCC to give me a few clues about the countries.  This week’s intercessions spoke of ethnic divisions, poverty, lack of water, desertification, Christians as minorities.  Normally the prayer intentions stay with me perhaps for a day, sometimes a couple of days. Life goes on….On Tuesday morning I listened to the ABC news. Eighteen people killed in Burkina Faso.  Burkina Faso, the country that was in our prayers, a country that rarely gets a mention in world news, was suffering an attack by extremists….

Just the day before we heard of the horrific mudslide in Freetown in Sierra Leone. About fifteen years ago when I was in Canada I met a lady who worked with young people who had been involved in the ethnic wards. With her encouragement we raised funds to provide counselling for former child soldiers.  At the time, I explored media to learn about the dreadful attacks on people. People had limbs hacked off! Many images remain with me, One in particular showed a man who had had both arms hacked off at the shoulders holding his baby on his knees.   Then not so many years ago the Ebola virus killed many. Now the mudslide in Freetown has claimed the lives of 400 people, including 100 children. 600 more are missing. On top of that, the people have been warned of another mudslide. How much can one nation bear!

Two days later another terrorist attack took place in Barcelona. Thirteen people were killed and more than 100 people were injured. 

What do I do in the face of so much tragedy? I continue to ask myself ‘How can I be a peacemaker in every aspect of my life?’

This weekend, the Youth Parliament of the World’s Religions will take place. Over one hundred young people from many faiths will come together and consider recommendations for government – and for church leaders. This will be the third such event, supported by the Columban Missionaries. Participating in the events, seeing young people from different faiths, sitting together, talking about what is important to them is a most wonderful experience. Here hope flourishes. 

During last week, I visited Parliament House in Canberra with representatives of Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations to meet with a number of parliamentarians. In the coming week, the Australian National Dialogue of Christians Muslims and Jews will meet for the third of their gatherings this year.  Just weeks ago, the Abraham Conference was held in Parramatta. Many more interfaith events have taken palace, of which I have not been part. The value of each of these in promoting understanding, in developing friendships, in ensuring that we live in peace, in respecting the dignity of each person cannot be under-estimated. 

May we all be peacemakers.

In peace

Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs

General Secretary


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