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16.05.05 11:50 Age: 7 yrs

The way of the cross

The cross to continue its journey

The olive-wood cross from Bethlehem that was presented to the Athens mission conference will continue its journey, traveling to the WCC's 9th Assembly in Brazil before returning to Athens.

The five-metre standing cross, created from the wood of olive trees uprooted in and near Bethlehem during the building by Israel of a separation wall in Palestine, was a gift to the conference from the Christian churches of Jerusalem. It has served as a symbol of Christ's passion and the suffering of oppressed people in the region where he was born. Some have also seen it as a sign of hope for transformation of the situation in Israel-Palestine, and for the possibility of healing and reconciliation there.

The Rev. Ruth Bottoms, CWME moderator and a Baptist pastor from the UK, announced at the conference's closing plenary session on Saturday, May 14 that the mission and evangelism commission has made arrangements for the cross to travel to Porto Alegre, Brazil by February 2006 when the World Council of Churches will convene its 9th Assembly. There, it will serve to illustrate the story of the Athens mission conference and of its concern for and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Following the assembly in Porto Alegre, the cross will be transported back to Greece where it will be erected as a permanent reminder of the 13th Conference on World Mission and Evangelism.