Christian leaders weigh church challenges

Athens, Greece - Christian leaders, theologians and religious activists from around the world gathered Monday for a meeting to assess some of the most serious challenges for the faith, such as growing rifts between churches and African congregations ravaged by AIDS.

The conference, organized by the World Council of Churches, is expected to draw more than 500 participants representing nearly every tradition in Christianity. The six-day meeting formally begins Tuesday.

The broad agenda reflects the many concerns confronting churches and obstacles to unity.

The conference may spend the bulk of its energy on efforts for churches to assist AIDS sufferers and prevention work; the rise of radical Islam; and limits by the Chinese government on Christian missionary work.