Twenty top-level church representatives from the United States and the Soviet Union have issued a statement here declaring that their countries' national resources should be released from the arms race and "employed in the development of just, sustainable and participatory societies."
Meeting for an unprecedented ecclesiastical summit, the church leaders backed the SALT II treaty - although they believe it inadequate - and called for cessation of nuclear arms testing and production.
In a six-page statement at the close of the three-day conference, the two delegations said, "We know that still more terrible weapons are being developed which can only lead to greater fear and suspicion and thus to a still more feverish arms race. Against this we say with one voice - no.
In the name of God - no."
The 18 men and 2 women urged their churches to "give special attention" to further "consultations on disarmament and other visitations of a general nature, as well as joint days of prayers for peace."
The churches were asked to support the disarmament programs of the World Council of Churches and the United Nations because "the arms race produces hardships and lethal dangers, not only for our two countries, but for all nations of the world, especially those having nuclear capability."
Members of the U.S. delegation were either officers of the National Council of Churches or church representatives on the council's governing board.
The U.S. delegation was led by the Rev. M. William Howard, president of the national council. He is an American Baptist minister and works for the Reformed Church in America.
The Russian delegation included leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and four other churches.
The statement, entitled "Choose Life," includes a general section that reiterates opposition to arms proliferation on an economic and political basis, then offers "Theological Reflections" and concludes with an eightpoint "Call to Action."
In the "Call to Action," the church representatives pledged:
To press for approval of the SALT II accords.
To call for "a full and general prohibition of nuclear arms testing the development and deployment of new nuclear weapon systems, and the production and accumulation of chemical and radiological arms as well as other weapons of mass destruction."
To support the role of the U.N. in disarmament negotiations.
To support the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical programs concerned with disarmament.
To express "readiness" to unite in peace efforts.
To call upon churches to make staff and money available for disarmament programs.
To urge churches in teaching and preaching programs to emphasize "the biblical vision of peace."
To give special attention to strengthening and enlarging the community that has been nurtured among the Christians in the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. for more than 20 years.
To strengthen and enlarge the circle of disarmament advocates among Christians.