Why a Decade to Overcome Violence?

The eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December 1998 was not only a time for reflection. It was also a time to redefine goals and objectives as well as face up to new challenges.

During the assembly, churches committed themselves to a pilgrimage to seek reconciliation and peace under the banner of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV).

The Decade is an effort to overcome the violence of division in our societies and to respond to the yearning for peace and a life of dignity for future generations.

The DOV is an invitation to churches, organizations and individuals to join together and work for peace. As such, the Decade is expected to take shape through the involvement and initiatives of the churches.

The Decade is also a time for people to share ideas and strategies on how to overcome violence using non-violent techniques.


Churches to launch the DOV officially 

More than a thousand people are expected to meet in Berlin, Germany, on Sunday, 4 February 2001, for the official launch of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV). A worship service at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche will pave the way for a public event at the "Haus der Kulturen der Welt", followed by a candlelight march to the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the peaceful revolution which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This symbolic act will be followed by another: earth from different parts of the world, symbolizing the different forms of violence in each country, will be mixed together in a box.

Events in the House of World Cultures

During the DOV launch, many cultural activities will take place in the House of World Cultures, which is a forum for the contemporary cultures of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

José Ramos-Horta, an advocate for East Timorese independence and winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, will address the public during a presentation on a "Vision for Peace".

The moderator of the WCC central committee, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, will present the concerns of the Decade and invite everyone to participate in it.

"Peace to the City Dance"

The combined efforts of artists from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Marcia Milhazes Dança Contemporânea, Trio Aquarius, Soprano Juliana Franco and Composer Nestor de Hollanda Cavalcanti - have produced the inspired "Peace to the City Dance", a contemporary chamber ballet based on the experiences of the violence and peace-building in cities in the WCC Peace to the City campaign.

For more information about the production or for information about hosting the performance in your area, click here or contact media or media

Nobel Peace Laureate from East Timor Jose Ramos Horta at WCC - © Catherine Alt / WCC

The popular Brazilian theatre, "Peace to the City Dance" from Rio de Janeiro, will be part of the entertainment. The dance group is a modern chamber ballet, which interprets the experiences of cities involved in the Peace to the City campaign in a non-verbal and poetic way.

A cultural youth project "Kreuzberger Musikalische Aktion", which works against violence in a multicultural district of Berlin, will present a break-dance concept of battle-dance as model of conflict solution.

"Wer, wenn nicht wir?" ("Who, if not us?") will be the title of an exhibition of paintings by children and youth centred on violence.

For more information contact: DOV office


© John Taylor/WCC


The new and the old - The old church was badly damaged during the second world war, on 23 November 1943. After much debate on whether to demolish it, a new church was finally built next to the old one, and consecrated in 1961. The past and the present are thus placed side by side in a stimulating, yet harmonious tension, emphasizing that in a world of violence there can be hope for peace in the future.

© Peter Williams / WCC

Pope Shenouda III

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and president of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), was awarded the 2000 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-violence, at a ceremony on 16 November 2000. Pope Shenouda was a WCC president from 1991 to 1998.

Visit DOV's website!

You will find an introduction to the DOV vision and mandate, a DOV prayer, and an explanation of what the logo symbolizes. There are stories and photos on what people and groups around the world are doing to overcome violence, links to the Peace to the City network website and to a growing list of the websites of other local, national and international peace movements. And there is a calendar of DOV-related events and an online form that you can use to let us know what you are doing to overcome violence - so we can share your story with others.

DOV communicator

Diana Mavunduse was appointed WCC DOV communicator and started on 1 November 2000. Before joining the WCC, Diana worked as a researcher/writer at the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Born in Zimbabwe, she belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. She sees the DOV as one of the greatest challenges to humanity in trying to achieve peace using non-violent tactics. Email

Liberian crosses of peace

Much affected by the death of his father, two brothers and two sisters, who were killed during the war in Liberia, George Kollie, a former motor mechanic, is now transforming instruments of death into symbols of peace.

With the help of his brother-in-law, George Togba, Kollie is now making small crosses out of cartridges left behind during the war. This craftsmanship has helped them come to terms with the past and work for a non-violent future in Liberia.


George Togba, a former military intelligence officer of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia, says he is no longer prepared to carry arms, but that his mission is to support Liberia's reconstruction efforts.

As a person who previously fought in the Liberian civil war, Togba sees himself as a role model of someone who became a crusader for peace. Making these peace symbols has created employment and income for ten people and their families.

A representative of the cross-makers has been invited to the Berlin DOV launch to give a first-hand account on overcoming violence in a war-torn country. The crosses will be used during the worship service in Berlin.

African theologians commit themselves to work for DOV

Participants of the theological community of the African church and of the African diaspora gathered at Mbagathi, Nairobi, Kenya, 14-18 August 2000, to reflect on their calling and ministry.

The conference noted with approval the forthcoming Decade to Overcome Violence. In their final communiqué, participants committed themselves, among other things, "to work to identify the root causes of violence in our churches and societies, to conscientize our people, and to develop appropriate mechanisms and programmes to deal with this menace".

The participants also identified priority aspects of violence: violence against women and children, including domestic violence, female genital mutilation, ritual murders and accusations of witchcraft.

"We acknowledge and repent of the churches' share in responsibility for all these forms of violence, both by commission and by omission," states the communiqué.


CALENDAR OF EVENTS (January - August 2001) DOV Launches 


DOV International Launch
Berlin, Germany
4 February 2001


Deenabandhu Manchala
World Council of Churches
P.O.Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41.22) 791.61.11
Fax: (+41.22) 791.64.09
Email: DOV


DOV Launch-West Africa
Accra, Ghana
3-6 May


Mr Baffour Amoa
Secretary General
P.O.Box CT 4317, Cantonments
Accra, Ghana
Tel: (+233.21) 77.95.03
Fax: (+233.21) 50.71.94
Email: cmid (at) africaonline.com.gh


DOV Launch-Southern Africa
Luanda, Angola
4 March 2001


Rev. David Modiega
Box 355, Gabarone
Tel: (+267) 35.19.81
Fax: (+267) 35.19.81
Email: djmodiega (at) botsnet.bw



DOV Launch-Eastern Africa & Great Lakes Region
21 March 2001


Mrs Karimi Kinoti
P.O.Box 45009
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (+254.2) 72.16.26
Fax: (+254.2) 72.16.26



DOV Launch-Rhineland
Westphalia and Lippe
to be announced
11 February 2001


Christine Busch
Evangelical Church in Rhineland
Hans-Böckler-Str. 7, 40476



DOV Launch-Evangelical Church in Baden
Offenburg, Germany
11 February 2001


NB. For all the DOV launches taking place in German churches, please contact:
Evangelical Church in Germany
Herrenhäuser Str. 12
P.O.Box 21 02 20
D-30402 Hanover, Germany
Tel: (+49. 511) 27.960; Fax: (+49.511) 279.67.07
Email: ekd (at) ekd.de; Website



DOV Launch-Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Württemburg
Stuttgart, Germany
30 March 2001



DOV Launch-Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia
Thuringia, Germany
March (to be announced)


DOV Launch-Swiss Churches
(to be announced)
26 April 2001


Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
Sulgenauweg 26, P.O. Box 36
CH-3000 Bern 23, Switzerland
Tel: (+41.31) 370.25.25
Fax: (+41.31) 370.25.80
E-mail: sek (at) ref.ch


DOV Launch-CLAI Assembly
Barranquilla, Colombia
15 January 2001


Rev. Israel Batista
Casilla 17-08-8522
Inglaterra 943 y Mariana de Jesus
Quito, Ecuador
Tel: (+593.2) 55.39.96
Fax: (+593.2) 50.43.77



U.S Conference Annual Meeting/DOV Launch
To be announced
23-24 April 2001


Philip Jenks
475 Riverside Drive
RM 915, New York, NY 10115, USA
Tel: (+1 212) 870 2535
Email: WCC Contact


DOV Launch-Pacific
(to be announced)


Rev. Valamotu Palu
P.O.Box 208, Suva, Fiji
Tel: (+679) 31.12.77
Fax: (+679) 30.32.05

Other related events: 



Workshop: "Equipping Ourselves to Become Instruments of Peace"
Evangelical Akademie Mülheim
16-18 March 2001


Evangelical Church in Rhineland
Hans-Böckler-Str. 7, 40476




Second Pan-African Conference on Culture and Religion
Trinity Theological Seminary, Ghana
29 July -5 August 2001


Circle Liaison Officer
Institute of Women in Religion and Culture
P.O. Box LG 48
Tel: (+233.21) 51.02.97
Fax: (+233.21) 51.02.97
Email: talitha (at) ghana.com



International Consultation of Historic Peace Churches
Theological Seminary, Bienenberg, Switzerland
24-29 June 2001


Sara Speicher
World Council of Churches
P.O.Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41.22) 791.61.11
Fax: (+41.22) 798.13.46

Get your DOV-logo now!

The hands in the shape of the heart over the broken earth signify the need as well as the hope of overcoming violence. The yellow earth stands for hope amidst turmoil, while the sharp edges of the green shape emphasize the danger the earth is in. The movement around the earth signifies the dynamism of this global initiative.

The logo is available in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish. It is obtainable her or by sending us an e-mail request.

Invitation to Christians to a "Lenten Fast From Violence"
On the occasion of the common dates of Lent, the common celebration of Easter on 15 April 2001, and the inauguration of the Decade to Overcome Violence, US member churches of the WCC are inviting all Christians to a "Lenten Fast From Violence".

During Lent 2001, Christians from all traditions are invited to enter into this special period of time with a focus on the growing violence throughout the world and the need for peace and reconciliation.

During Lent three spiritual disciplines are uppermost: prayer, fasting and charitable giving. During this period, US Christians are thus invited to:

  • pray the prayer of St. Francis daily: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace";
  • refrain from violence, and abstain from ways in which we consume and support violence, individually and communally;
  • give to those efforts that address the causes and consequences of violence and that support peace and reconciliation.

  • Transforming Violence, Linking Local and Global Peacemaking
    by Robert Herr & Judy Zimmerman Herr
  • Overcoming Violence: The Challenge to the Churches in All Places
    by Margot Kässmann
  • Small Arms, Big Impact: A Challenge to the Churches
    WCC Publications, 1997
  • Peace to the City:Video Series & Companion Book
    7-part video series - Book by Dafne Plou


  • Gewalt überwinden
    (Series: Christ sein weltweit)
    Available from Evangelical Missionswerk in Germany
    Email: einewelt@emw-d.de
  • Youth Peace Training Manual
    All Africa Conference of Churches, 1999
    Available from All Africa Conference of Churches
    Email: aacc (at) maf.org
    Also at the WCC book store
  • Möt volden-Kirkelig Arbeid mot makteslöshet
    (meeting violence-the churches work to help the powerless)
    Available from Kirkens Nödhjelp
    Tel: (+47.22) 09.27.26


  • Life & Peace Institute
    P.O. Box 1520
    SE-751 45 Uppsala, Sweden
    The role of religion in conflict and peace
    Human rights and economic justicebr> Conflict transformation
  • International University of Peoples' Institutions for Peace
    Palazzo dell'Istruzione
    Corso Bettini, 84
    I-38068 Rovereto, Italy
    Tel: (+39.464) 42.42.88
    Email: iupip (at) inf.unitn.it
    Courses: three-week courses sponsored by UNESCO and the University of Trento
    People's diplomacy
    Non-violence - Human governance - Global solidarity

  • Join the e-mail group for the Decade to Overcome Violence
    As a communication instrument for DOV, churches in Germany started an e-mail group for sharing of information during the Decade. If you are interested, please subscribe to: gewaltueberwinden-subscribe (at) egroups.de, only in German


  • For any events, courses and books related to DOV you would like to include in the calendar or resource list, please email us: DOV office

  • © Elly Wamari, AACC
    Elly Wamari Oudo is a cartoonist and editorial assistant for Tam Tam, a quarterly magazine of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).

    Is there hope in a world of violence?

    In response to the DOV questionnaire on "What are your hopes for the Decade to Overcome Violence?" people answered:

    That the church becomes a body that genuinely incarnates the peace of Christ rather than actually contributing to the world's brokenness. Cynthia Yuen, Christian Conference of Asia in Hong Kong.

    To change hearts, minds and behaviours by raising awareness of different forms of violence. Student Christian Movement, Belarus.

    That the DOV will cease all forms of violence, in particular violence due to racism, ethnic hatred, violence among youth, socio-economic violence, violence within the church, home and family. World Vision, India.

    That Africa will learn non-violent methods of resolving conflicts, whether they are in our homes, in churches, in communities or global conflicts. DeEhe Wald Beghtol, Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation, Zambia.

    To grasp that involvement should start with protecting people from violence. Interchurch Peace Council (IKV), The Hague, Netherlands.

    To give stature to mediation as a tool for resolving conflict. Centre de Recherche sur la Médiation, Belgium.

    That peace be seen as an active commitment to a non-violent society. Quaker Peace Centre, South Africa.



    to the first issue of Overcoming Violence - the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) newsletter. It aims to communicate and share information from member churches and civil society on issues related to the Decade and the struggle against violence. You are urged to send in your contributions, not only on how we can improve our future publications but also on issues which are of prime concern to your region/country.

    Overcoming Violence will be published four times a year and distributed free

    Produced by:
    WCC Public Information Team

    Editorial Team:
    Karin Achtelstetter
    Diana Mavunduse
    Miriam Reidy-Prost
    Sara Speicher

    For further information write to:
    Overcoming Violence
    WCC Communication
    P.O.BOX 2100
    1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
    Telephone: (41-22) 791 6111
    General Fax: (41-22) 791 0361
    Communication Fax: (41-22) 798 1346

    Material can be reproduced freely: please credit the WCC

    Design: Marie Arnaud Snakkers
    Printed in Switzerland
    © WCC

    Meeting of historic peace churches

    The DOV has inspired a theological consultation of historic peace churches (HPC) 24-29 June 2001, to convene at Bienenberg Theological Seminary in Switzerland

    The gathering of theologians from the Brethren, Mennonite and Quaker churches will identify common axioms of peace theology under the theme "Theology and Culture: Peace-making in a Globalized World".

    These churches are planning the consultation, with theologians from the south as well as from Europe and North America.

    Boston says "no" to violence

    The World Council of Churches' Peacebuilding and Disarmament Programme hosted its first training workshop for the Peace to the City network, 14-17 November, in Boston, USA.

    The Boston training workshop on urban violence and human security brought together members of the clergy, police and community organizations from eight cities to experience first-hand the peace-building strategy of the Boston Coalition.

    Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine and a supporter of the Ten-Point Coalition, was keynote speaker.

    Faced with growing urban violence, especially gang-related gun violence, Boston clergy, police and community workers have come together to address the problems. Ten-Point Coalition founders have taken an extremely active role in community life, through school and after-school programmes, community policing, and court advocacy. This positive presence, and a strong collaboration between the church, police and community agencies, have led to a drastic reduction of violence on the streets of Boston.

    Participants in the workshop heard first-hand testimony about Ten-Point through a series of panel discussions with clergy and youth in the programme, plus conversations with members of the Boston police department and its gang unit, the district attorney's office, and the department of youth services. On "ride-alongs" with the police, participants saw the programme in practice and also heard from street workers involved directly with the gangs.

    Peace to the City network members who participated in the training workshop each developed an individual city plan, borrowing from the Boston model. Taking into consideration their own municipal structure, resources and external problems, the participants examined the problems to address, key players, and potential steps to be taken in order to adapt the concept of Ten-Point to their context.

    This training workshop was held within the framework of the Decade to Overcome Violence. In bringing together church representatives, community workers and police to examine the issue of urban violence, the World Council of Churches provided a cross-cultural forum for sharing and learning which it is hoped will be a template for future workshops.