The United States is to be the focus of an ecumenical church campaign against violence, the main governing body of the World Council of Churches has decided. The WCC’s central committee, which met Aug. 26-Sept. 2 in Geneva (see related story), approved the U.S. as the focus of its Decade to Overcome Violence campaign for the year 2004. Its choice moves the focus from war-torn places such as the Middle East (the focus in 2001), and Sudan (the 2003 focus), to the nation viewed as the world’s super power. “ If there was ever a part of the world where work for peace is important, it’s in the U.S.,” said Clifton Kirkpatrick, the stated clerk, or most senior staff member, of the Presbyterian church in the United States and a member of the WCC’s executive and central committees, at a press briefing. Mr. Kirkpatrick cited the country’s use of the death penalty and domestic violence, in addition to the U.S. role in leading the war in Iraq, as examples of the violence churches in the country have been working against. Officially launched in February 2001, the 10-year campaign is intended to promote church programs for reconciliation and peace. Investment returns, formerly the biggest category, dropped to third place. And at 214 million pounds ($481 million Cdn) the church spent four times as much on maintaining churches and cathedrals, many of them medieval, as it did on education, charities and missions.