Christians Call for Middle East Peace: Letter to Obama
UPDATE: Renewed violence in Gaza, with Israel targetting Hamas leaders (and, as usual, hitting numerous civilians along the way) and promising an incursion “that will not be short,” and Hamas launching retaliatory rockets and calling for a renewal of suicide bomb attacks, calls such as these are needed more than before. Religious and other peace leaders from around the globe need to converge on Israel-Palestine and put themselves in harm’s way an unarmed human shields in order to stop the madness. We cannot have half-measures nor handwringing, but need bold, nonviolent action–NOW!
As Bob Cornwall notes, Christians from many denominations have written an open letter to U.S. president-elect Barack Obama calling for strong action in the new year for Middle East peace. The letter was generated by one of my favorite organizations, Christians for a Middle East Peace. You can add your signature here. Let me add: These are the kind of efforts Christians should be known for–and not just at Christmastide! Hopefully, this is a sign of far more peace and justice activity by U.S. Christians in the coming year–not gay bashing, warmongering, neglecting the environment or the poor, etc., but promoting peace and justice–and challenging elected officials to do more of the same. The text and initial signatories appear below:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President-elect of the United States
Presidential Transition Team
Washington, DC 20270
Dear President-elect Obama,
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has gone on too long. It has caused untold suffering for both sides, created economic hardships, and provided a rallying cry for extremists.
As people of faith and hope, we believe peace is possible. Majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians continue to support a negotiated solution based on two secure and sovereign states as the best way to end this tragic conflict.
In order to achieve a durable peace, your Administration must provide sustained, high-level diplomatic leadership toward the clear goal of a final status agreement. Building on past discussions, we ask you to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make historic compromises necessary for peace. [Emphasis added by MLW-W]
Your commitment to working for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel can help strengthen U.S. security and improve stability and relationships throughout the Middle East. We believe that Jerusalem – home to two peoples and three religions – has the potential to become a powerful symbol of hope and coexistence for people across the region and the world.
We know the work for a just peace will not be easy. It will require great courage and resolve, but the risk of inaction is even greater. Without active U.S. engagement, political inertia and perpetuation of the unbearable status quo will make achievement of a two-state solution increasingly difficult. Moreover, we are concerned about the negative impact a further delay will have on the Christian community in the Holy Land, whose numbers continue to decline.
We call on all Christians and people of goodwill to join us in praying for the peace of Jerusalem and in supporting vigorous U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure Middle East peace. Mr. President, as you take up the many challenges facing the United States and the global community, we urge you to work for a better future for all the children of Abraham in the land that is holy to us all.
Rev. Fr. Mark Arey
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Most Rev. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
Primate, Diocese of the Armenian Church of
Rt. Rev. Wayne Burkette
Moravian Church in North America
Eastern University, St. Davids, PA
Sr. J. Lora Dambroski, OSF
President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Sr. Donna Graham, OSF
President, English Speaking Conference JPIC Council
Franciscan Friars (OFM)
President, Catholic Relief Services
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
Minister for Mission and Ecumenism, Alliance of Baptists
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Dr. Joel C. Hunter
Senior Pastor, Northland Church
Member, Executive Committee of the
National Association of Evangelicals
Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim
Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church
for the Eastern USA
The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Reverend John L. McCullough
Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service
Mary Ellen McNish
General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary, The American Baptist Churches, USA.
Richard J. Mouw
President, Fuller Theological Seminary
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today
Stanley J. Noffsinger
Church of the Brethren
Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer
President, The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church, (USA)
Very Rev. Thomas Picton, CSsR
President, Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Dr. Tyrone Pitts
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Bob Roberts, Jr.
Pastor, NorthWood Church, Keller, TX
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba)
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Rolando L. Santiago
Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
Dr. Chris Seiple
President, Institute for Global Engagement
Robert A. Seiple
Former Ambassador-at-Large for
International Religious Freedom
Ronald J. Sider
President, Evangelicals for Social Action
President, World Vision, United States
The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
International Orthodox Christian Charities
Friends Committee on National Legislation
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Right Rev. John F. White
Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer
African Methodist Episcopal Church
American Christians nationwide are invited to add their names to the leaders’ call for Holy Land peace.
Deadline is Jan. 16, 2009.
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