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Churches can do more to protect children

Taking a major step towards church involvement in children's wellbeing, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has recently published "Churches' Commitments to Children", an open invitation to WCC member churches and partners to address the needs of children as an integral part of the ecumenical commitment to the pilgrimage of justice and peace.

The World Council of Churches is one of the national and worldwide ecumenical organizations supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment.

"Churches' Commitments to Children" is an open invitation and living resource for the churches, ecumenical partners and related organizations, developed to stimulate and strengthen their action for children.

The "Churches' Commitments to Children" supports engagement of churches in three areas: Child Protection, Child Participation and Climate Justice initiatives with Children. The development and implementation of "Churches' Commitments to Children" is supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) through a global WCC-UNICEF partnership, and altogether there have been 235 people who have contributed to development of this initiative.

"The World Council of Churches affirms the role of churches in addressing the needs of children", WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit stated. "We encourage one another to be at the forefront of offering care and protection for those who are most vulnerable among us. We want to contribute more in this respect, embodying the qualities of child-friendly, caring and protecting churches."

But even as churches acknowledge the positive contributions and strong commitments to the lives of children, we have to confess that we have fallen short, reflects Tveit. "We as churches can do more, and we can do more together to care for and protect children.  Therefore it is especially important that our commitment continues and is shared in mutual accountability to one another. This is our calling from Christ", he said.

The text of "Churches' Commitments to Children" is built on a strong theological understanding of the deeply precious and yet vulnerable place children hold within families, households, churches and societies. The document bridges what we understand as Christians about the inherent dignity of children with the responsibilities held by all of humanity to protect and nurture them.

Development of "Churches' Commitments to Children" was initiated by the Commission of Churches on International Affairs and included theologians, child rights experts and children themselves. The document identifies areas in which churches have particular ability to make a positive impact in the lives of children, in the churches and in the wider societies in which we live.

In order to coordinate support among the churches, publishing of "Churches' Commitments to Children" is accompanied with an online survey where church representatives can express their interest in providing or receiving the support in particular areas or child protection and wellbeing. To discuss the commitments within the church communities, a poster summarizing the "Churches' Commitments to Children" is accessible for download as well, useful for all age groups, including children. All mentioned documents are available in English, German, French and Spanish languages.

World Council of Churches website

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment at 100 percent.

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