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Pastors, Lay Church Leaders, Mission and Relief Workers Urged to Attend Complementary Luncheons on North Africa Crisis

To: National Desk

 

Contact: Tanie Guy of the National Clergy Council, 304-886-5409

 

LANCASTER, Penn.; PONTIAC, Mich.; COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- Recent reports on continuing human rights abuses in detention camps in Algeria are raising renewed concerns about the Western Sahara. A delegation of former refugees from the Western Sahara will this week visit Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Pontiac, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio, to meet with Christian leaders. They are seeking the help of churches in reuniting families torn apart over a 30-year period by an attempted Marxist take-over of this part of North Africa.

 

Western Sahara is a swath of coastal desert with Morocco to the north, Algeria to the east and Mauritania to the south. Since the end of Spanish occupation in 1975, Morocco's 1000-year sovereignty over the area has been challenged by a Marxist-inspired guerilla group called the POLISARIO Front. Backed by Fidel Castro in Cuba and corrupt Algerian officials, the POLISARIO has held tens of thousands of Moroccan families in camps, forcibly sending their children to Cuba, Libya and the former Soviet Union. Families are held hostage to threats that should they ever leave the camps, they will never be reunited with their children. Members of the visiting delegation include such children, now adults.

 

"As Christians, we may have profound differences with our Muslim neighbors in Morocco, but we have found common ground helping these gentle and wonderful people," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. "In Bible times Jews had serious religious differences with the Samaritans, but Jesus used a Samaritan to show how we are to treat people in need. This noble mission has opened doors of friendship and dialogue no one thought possible." 

 

The visit is part of a campaign to reach out to the American Christian community for help in ending the suffering and reuniting these families. The conservative National Clergy Council is hosting the group and sponsoring three informative luncheons on Tuesday, June 20, in Lancaster, PA and continuing to Pontiac, Michigan, June 22, and Columbus, Ohio, June 23. Clergy and lay leaders are invited to attend the complementary events. Pastors, lay church leaders, heads of Christian organizations, media executives and producers, journalists and academics are urged to attend. There is no cost for the elegant meal and two-hour program.

 

Attendees will learn of three non-financial ways to demonstrate Christian love and concern for the people of the Western Sahara. These events are not fundraisers and no financial appeal will be made before, during or after the event.

 

The luncheons are open to the public and the media, but reservations are necessary. To secure up to six complementary seats, call Allyson Black at 202-546-8329, extension 104, send name, address, E-mail, phone and number in party to reservations@nationalclergycouncil.org  or online at www.speakforsahrawis.org/registration.

 

SCHEDULE OF LUNCHEON EVENTS (NOON – 3:00 PM)---

 

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lancaster Host Resort, 2300 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17602

 

Pontiac, Michigan

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Detroit Pontiac at Centerpoint, 3600 Centerpoint Parkway, Pontiac, MI 48341

 

Columbus, Ohio

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Columbus, 50 N. Third St., Columbus, OH  43215