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World Council Of Churches To Meet In Cleveland To Tackle Racism

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By Michael O'Malley / The Plain Dealer
Religion News Service

CLEVELAND (RNS) Members of the World Council of Churches, representing more than 560 million Christians in 110 countries, will gather in Cleveland to discuss how to expose and combat racism around the globe.

The four-day seminar, which starts Thursday (Aug. 26) and will include about 30 people from churches around the world, will be hosted by the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ.

"We'll review what's going on throughout the world," said the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries. "We need to address the underground, systemic issues of racism."

That includes racial imbalances in prison systems and public schools and economic inequities in job markets, she said.

The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, the UCC's minister for racial justice, said racism is a more difficult target today in the United States than it was during the times of slavery and Jim Crow laws.

"One of the challenges is how to focus our work while the overt structures of racism are no longer there," she said. "We know it still exists, so how do we direct our energies toward dismantling racism in its forms of the 21st century?"

The group will draft a report to present to a peace-and-justice conference the WCC will hold in Jamaica in May.

The council is comprised of most of the world's Orthodox churches, a number of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches and many independent churches. The Roman Catholic Church works with the council, but is not a member.

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