Religious leaders urge President Obama
to take bold action for peace in Middle East
Washington, June 30 -- National
Council of Churches officers and heads of NCC member communions have joined
other faith leaders in calling on President Obama to take bold action for
peace between Israel and Palestine.
Rev. Peg Chemberlin, NCC president, and the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC
general secretary, signed onto a message that points out that "time is not
on the side of peace."
The letter, drafted by Churches for Middle East Peace, urges the president
to issue a comprehensive statement prior to the convening of the United
Nations General Assembly this fall "that addresses all final status issues,
including the need for Jerusalem in the future to be the shared capital of
both states, a just resolution on the issue of all refugees, and assured
access for all faiths to their holy places."
The letter to the president comes at a time when the path to peace is strewn
with hurdles and both Israeli and Palestinian leaders face
unprecedented domestic political challenges.
Recent weeks have seen comments by both President Obama and Prime
Minister Netanyahu and a reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas. Currently, a humanitarian flotilla is about to head to
the Gaza strip, and the Palestinian Authority is considering bringing the
question of statehood before the United Nations in the fall. There is a
growing recognition of the increasingly desperate situation on the ground
and that time is not on the side of peace.
“All of these events make it even more pertinent for President Obama to take
immediate leadership toward a comprehensive peace agreement,” said Jordan
Blevins, Advocacy Officer and Ecumenical Peace Coordinator for the National
Council of Churches and Church of the Brethren.
The letter is signed by a wide range of evangelical, Protestant, Catholic
and Orthodox leaders. In addition to Chemberlin and Kinnamon, signers
representing NCC member communions include:
Father Mark Arey, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America;
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, NCC past president, Armenian Orthodox Church of
North America; Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President, United
Church of Christ; Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, Minister for Partnership
Relations, Alliance of Baptists; and Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson,
General Secretary Reformed Church in America.
Also, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America; The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop
and Primate, The Episcopal Church; His Beatitude Jonah, Archbishop of
Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Orthodox Church in
America; and His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Archbishop of the
Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church,in the Eastern United States.
Also, the Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World
Service; the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist
Churches USA; the Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, President, Provincial Elders'
Conference, Moravian Church in America, Northern Province; Stanley J.
Noffsinger, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren; and Dr. Harriett Jane
Olson, Deputy General Secretary, the Women’s Division of General Board of
Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church.
Also, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly,
Presbyterian Church, (USA); the Rev. Tyrone Pitts, General Secretary
Emeritus, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Bishop Sharon
Zimmerman Radar, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops, United Methodist
Church; Dr. T. DeWitt Smith Jr., Immediate Former President, Progressive
National Baptist Convention, Inc.; the Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General
Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); and Bishop
John F. White, Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer, African Methodist
For the full text of the statement, including the signees, please visit: http://bit.ly/kf1tss
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of
the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for
shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's
37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican,
Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace
churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local
congregations in communities across the nation.
NCC News contact:
Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),