NCC, CWS ENDORSE U.S. "PRAYER VIGIL FOR MIDDLE EAST
Ecumenical Delegation Visit Dec. 7-12 Also Has a Just, Lasting Peace as Its Goal
November 30, 2000, NEW YORK CITY A commitment to justice for all who share the Holy Land undergirds two new, complementary efforts for Middle East peace: a U.S. ecumenical prayer vigil, beginning Dec. 3, and a U.S. church leaders visit to Jerusalem Dec. 7-12.
The National Council of Churches and Church World Service, the NCCs global service and witness ministry, are sending the Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS Executive Director, on the Dec. 7-12 delegation visit and urging support for the vigil, an initiative of Churches for Middle East Peace.
"U.S. Christians must listen to the cry of their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land for an end to the escalating cycles of violence and victimization," the Rev. McCullough said. "We must join them in making every effort and exhausting every resource to attain a lasting peace in the Middle East."
The vigil begins the first Sunday in Advent, Dec. 3, and will continue until the violence ends and a just and lasting peace agreement is reached. It holds in prayer the Christian communities in Jerusalem and all who are suffering in the Holy Land, including Palestinians and Israelis.
Organized by state, the vigil will begin in Alabama and New York, shift to Alaska and North Carolina on Dec. 4, Arizona and North Dakota on Dec. 5, and so on. The vigil will continue on the same day each month in each state. Click here for a schedule and resources.
Churches for Middle East Peace, with offices in Washington, D.C., is an ecumenical working group of Christian organizations, including the NCC and CWS. See CMEPs Web site for more information.
See also the "Resolution on the Conflict in the Middle East" adopted by the NCC General Assembly on Nov. 17, 2000, which calls for prayer and action toward a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
ECUMENICAL DELEGATION VISIT DEC. 7-12
As the vigil gets underway, the Rev. McCullough is preparing to participate in an ecumenical delegation visit to Jerusalem Dec. 7-12, hosted by Jerusalems churches.
This will be his second visit to the region this fall. Early in October, the Rev. McCullough met with leaders of the Middle East Council of Churches in Beirut. He also visited areas of south Lebanon where a 22-year occupation by the Israeli army ended in May.
The purpose of the Dec. 7-12 delegation visit is to provide heads of U.S. churches and other U.S. church leaders with an opportunity to:
* hear the concerns of the Patriarchs and the heads of the other Jerusalem churches, better understand the breakdown in peace negotiations, and discuss ways in which churches in the U.S. and in Palestine and Israel can work together to strengthen the Christian communities in Palestine and Israel and to promote a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
* offer pastoral support and express solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land, with the guidance of the Jerusalem church leaders, through visits to wounded individuals or family members of those who have been killed and through meetings with local clergy and others providing pastoral, relief, and medical services.
* meet with Israeli and Palestinian political and religious leaders and the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem to discuss the ongoing violence, the future status of Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, and other aspects of the peace talks.
* meet with Palestinians and Israelis -- Jews, Christians, and Muslims -- working for reconciliation, peace and justice and the promotion and protection of human rights.
* visit Palestinian Christian institutions, including schools, hospitals, and organizations, and attend various services of worship on the Sunday the delegation is in Jerusalem/Bethlehem, and visit some key holy sites.
The Jerusalem churches will arrange the program for the delegation. The delegation hopes to visit Jerusalem, Gaza, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and Ramallah, and elsewhere in Palestine and Israel as needed and appropriate to meet with government and religious officials.
The delegation will include members from the Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Quaker and United Methodist churches and from the United Church of Christ.
Watch the NCC News Service for stories from the delegation, and/or see www.loga.org for stories, photos and a complete list of delegation members.
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