Presidents Joseph Biden and Vladimir Putin were told they have a special responsibility for reducing tensions and achieving a stable relationship, to improve rather than diminish the prospects of effective global cooperation to address complex world crises.
The World Council of Churches with an open letter and prayer, on June 14 shared its hopes for peace on the eve of the first summit between the U.S. and Russian presidents, which will take place in Geneva on June 16.
Analysts have not predicted breakthroughs between the adversial powers, but hope the two nations which do not share ambassadors at the moment can begin to engage more on critical issues.
Issues on the agenda are expected to include Russia's military involvement in Ukraine, cyber security, the jailing of oppostition figure Alexei Navalny after his poisoning and falteriing armaments treaties.
"From our headquarters in the same city in which you will meet, and from so many other cities, towns and villages around the world in which our member churches carry out their ministries, we will be watching and praying for signs of hope from your encounter," wrote WCC acting general secretary Rev. Ioan Sauca in the letter.
Security was tight in the Swiss lakeside hub sometimes dubbed the "city of peace" on the eve of the BidenPutin meeting.
The WCC head said the world is struggling to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and faces greater challenges over the wider social and economic impacts of the pandemic, and in confronting the threat posed by accelerating climate change to the "intricate web of life on our planet."
Sauca also noted the persistent and once again growing specter of catastrophic nuclear conflict, particularly in the context of declining cooperation in arms control and increasing geo-political tensions.
"As leaders of your two nations, with their particular histories and current roles in world affairs, you have a special responsibility for reducing tensions and achieving a stable and predictable relationship," he wrote in the letter.
"We pray that the God of life and peace will inspire and guide you in this essential task, for the good of your own peoples, for our interdependent human community, and for God's precious and unique creation."
Swissinfo, the website of Switzerland's national broadcaster noted, "Like the two previous encounters between American and Soviet leaders in Geneva in 1955 and 1985, the upcoming summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin may simply serve to keep one important option open: diplomacy."
Some commentators have looked to the the 1985 Geneva summit, when as Cold War rivals U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpat Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time.
After that meeting there was a thaw in relations and between thet two powers.
Both leaders profess Christianity, with Putin often showing his participation in the Russian Orthodox Church while Biden is a practising Roman Catholic.