Opening remarks by Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe: Sojourners and WEA Joint-Press Event

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Thank you for coming.

During this week we are remembering once again those who lost there lives in the tragic events of 9/11. We continue to express our love and prayers for the families and friends of those impacted by this tragedy.

We also acknowledge with deep sadness the tremendous loss of life perpetrated by acts of violence in many other parts of the world since that tragic day.

So at this solemn moment we ask ourselves “what can we do, to create a better world that is more hopeful and seeks to end these cycles of violence?”

World Evangelical Alliance with its global family of 600 million Christians is committed to work with others in helping draw new maps that will help guide us into a new world where there is greater understanding, mutual respect and shared concerns for the challenges faced by all of humanity. In other words where love for our neighbor, in this global village, becomes preeminent.

Today, you will hear voices from some of our leaders from different parts of the world. They will reflect on the impact of 9/11 in their context but also provide a message of hope for this new future we all desire.

9/11 profoundly changed the world for an entire generation. There are of course the obvious outwards signs, including increased airport security, terror alerts and the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On a deeper level and more individual basis we have seen increasing fear, insecurity, profiling and racism.

However, there is a growing acknowledgement within our global community that we must build bridges of friendship and trust across ethnic, cultural and religious divides. This is not based upon sociological or political reasons but rather on the example of Christ who broke down barriers and commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We must speak out in truth and respect for each other. When an obscure pastor threatened to burn a religious book, leaders from faith communities, government and media joined in unison in condemning the proposed actions. Should we not show the same kind of unity and speak out when other acts of violence are perpetrated against people for their religious beliefs or their desire to change their religious beliefs.

I think it is also important to note, that there is greater recognition by governments that faith and religion must be taken into account when developing international policy. We in the WEA stand ready and willing to engage in dialogue with any government to promote greater peace, respect and freedom.

My office here in New York is located just a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero. Every day I walk past this site where they are building these beautiful new skyscrapers as well as a thoughtful memorial that will forever remember the death and destruction that took place 10 years ago.

For me it is a constant reminder that we live in a broken world and that we have a lot of work do in being peacemakers across this planet. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about reconciliation. We are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. And for us as evangelicals this reconciliation is the foundation for us to be reconciled to others. As I regularly pass Ground Zero I pray that I and all my fellow Evangelical Christians would be instruments of reconciliation in a world torn by war and conflict.