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NCC supports Middle East peace initiative, visits region

New York City, October 6, 2006 The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) is sending representatives to Lebanon and is joining with other faith groups supporting the latest initiative to bring a lasting and just peace in the Middle East.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which the NCC is a part, is supporting the International Crisis Group's global advocacy initiative designed to generate new political momentum for a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement. 

The International Crisis Group published a statement by global leaders calling for action, "Towards a Comprehensive Settlement of the Arab-Israeli Conflict," that appeared this week in a full page ad in The New York Times (Oct. 4).  The statement was signed by 135 respected global leaders - former presidents, prime ministers, foreign and defense ministers, congressional leaders and heads of international organizations.  U.S. signers included Jimmy Carter, Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, George Soros and Thomas Pickering.

This latest initiative comes at time when the NCC is sending a fact-finding delegation to Lebanon.  The group, headed by the Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the NCC, leaves Monday (Oct. 9).  They will meet with Lebanese citizens and officials alike during their five-day visit.  The group will report on their experiences to the NCC General Assembly's annual meeting next month in Orlando, Fla.

A separate delegation to Israel/Palestine is being undertaken by Church World Service, NCC's partner humanitarian ministry.  The CWS team will also report to the General Assembly.

The International Crisis Group also issued a new report, "The Arab-Israeli Conflict: To Reach a Lasting Peace".  It says in part, "...the Lebanon war must serve as a wake-up call: so long as the political roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict are not addressed, it will remain a bottomless source and pretext for repression, radicalization and bloodletting, both in the region and beyond. Now is the time for an international push to launch a new peace initiative."

CMEP is encouraging members of churches to study the document and statement from the International Crisis Group as a basis for discussion.

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Church of the Brethren

Also, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Friars OFM (English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee.

Also, the National Council of Churches USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM).

Contact NCC News: Rev. Daniel Webster, 212-870-2252,

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