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Letter to Bush Says Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
January 21, 2005, Washington, D.C. -- In a full-page ad in today’s national edition of The New York Times, leaders of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical churches and institutions urge President Bush to have the courage to seize the opportunity and bring his leadership to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The 57 signers, including National Council of Churches USA General Secretary Robert Edgar (leading an official NCC delegation to the Middle East Jan. 21-Feb. 4 - click here for that story) and top leadership of a dozen NCC member churches (denominations), begin with their concern for the security and freedom of Israelis and Palestinians. Then they add an appeal to the security and reputation of the United States itself.
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a threat to the people of the United States,” they write in their open letter to the newly inaugurated President. “Every day the conflict continues, hatred of the United States government is fueled. With each news report of Palestinian suffering … popular support in Arab and Muslim countries for terrorism grows and the threat of attacks directed at the United States increases. The continuing conflict has also resulted in suffering and loss of life among Israeli citizens. We want Israelis, too, to live without fear or threat in their own country.”
They continue, “A hallmark of your campaign was the commitment to defeat terror and make our country more secure. We believe that the promise of peace in Jerusalem is the best defense against terrorism. We encourage you to maintain the faith, the courage and the resolve to work with other world leaders toward negotiations that guarantee two viable states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side and sharing Jerusalem as their capital.”
They conclude: “We believe that the promise of peace in Jerusalem is the best defense against terrorism.”
The letters’ signers represent a broad spectrum of Christians in the United States. Among the signers are the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, and these top leaders of NCC member churches: Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Metropolitan Philip Saliba of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese; the Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary, Reformed Church in America; the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church in America; the Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey, Alliance of Baptists; the Rev. Wm. Chris Hobgood, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Also, Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Archbishop, Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church; the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA); the Rev. Michael E. Livingston, Executive Director, International Council of Community Churches; A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches (U.S.A.); Dr. Robert E. Sawyer, Moravian Church Southern Province; the Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ.
They join the Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of the international humanitarian agency Church World Service, through which the NCC’s 36 member churches serve; other leaders in NCC-member churches, and a host of Evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders.
Former U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Robert Seiple, a leader in the evangelical community, said the message of the letter and those who signed it is clear: “Peacemaking is difficult, the ultimate challenge. But it is here where we find out how good we really are. Do we have the courage and the commitment worthy of good people? In the end, this will determine how relevant we will be."
One of the Catholic signers, Sr. Christine Vladimiroff, OSB, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said, “The ancient, unfulfilled vision of justice for all is now within our reach. It is time for us - citizens and elected officials - to disarm our hearts, speak a word of hope and bring the blessing of peace to the people in the holy land. ‘Let us, then, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another.’” (Romans 14:19)
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church had this comment: “Having recommitted himself to a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, President Bush has a unique opportunity to make that vision real - to, as we urged, ‘follow the examples of the great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, who declared that God calls all nations and all people to do justice to one another.’”
Click here to see the ad. The full text of the letter and a complete list of those signing the letter follow:
January 21, 2005
Dear Mr. President:
As leaders of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches and Christian
organizations with millions of members across the country, we encourage you
to lead a political process that will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As you begin your second term, the vision of a two-state solution is coming
back into focus after having faded into obscurity. Will Palestinians finally
be free? Will Israelis be secure at last? As people of faith and hope, we
Finally, Mr. President, we urge you to follow the examples of the great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, who declared that God calls all nations and all people to do justice to one another. We join you in praying for peace in the Holy Land and at home.
Rev. Dr. Leonard B. Bjorkman
Simone Campbell, SSS
Br. Kevin Cawley
Sister Ardis Cloutier, OSF
Christopher J. Doyle
Rev. Robert Edgar
Beatrice Eichten, OSF
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
The Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
Rev. Wm. Chris Hobgood
Rev. Kathryn J. Johnson
The Rev. Phil Jones
Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim
Ted Keating, SM
Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB
Thomas Krosnicki, SVD
Donald A. Kruse
Rev. Michael E. Livingston
Dr. Ronald J.R. Mathies
Joellen McCarthy, BVM
Rev. John L. McCullough
Mary Ellen McNish
A. Roy Medley
Joseph Nangle, OFM
Rateb Y. Rabie, KHS
Metropolitan Philip Saliba
Rev. Cheryl J. Sanders, Th.D.
Dr. Robert E. Sawyer
Amb. Robert A. Seiple
Carole Shinnick, SSND
Ronald J. Sider
Rev. William G. Sinkford
James W. Skillen
Richard E. Stearns
Msgr. Archimandrite Robert L. Stern
Rev. John H. Thomas
The Rev. Canon Richard Toll
Christine Vladimiroff, OSB
Rev. Dr. Donald E. Wagner
Bishop Gabino Zavala
CONTACT: Corinne Whitlatch, Churches for Middle East Peace,
202-543-1222 or cell 202-306-3187
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