WCC urges churches to support Middle East appeals
World Council of Churchesí (WCC) general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia has encouraged the Council's member churches across the globe to pray for all those suffering as a result of the Middle East crisis, to support the appeals for emergency aid and to speak out for justice among the states and peoples in the region.
The peace-building, interfaith and anti-violence work of the churches was recognised by Lebanese Prime Minister Mr Fouad As-Sanioura earlier this week, thanking the WCC for their prompt response.
In a further pastoral letter sent today (21 July 2006) to World Council of Churches member churches in Europe, North America and the Middle East, Dr Kobia encouraged them to join before God "in lamenting the loss of life and destruction of homes and livelihoods", and to pray "for the safety and well-being of all communities in the Middle East - Muslim, Christian, and Jewish".
The letter also reminds churches of the need to support the appeals for emergency aid coordinated by WCC-related Action by Churches Together (ACT) International to help those "uprooted by the attacks on Lebanon", and those living "under collective punishment, incursions and siege" in Gaza.
Echoing calls from the churches in the region, Dr Kobia urged the Council's member churches to speak out on behalf of the churches of the Middle East addressing particularly the public and governments of those countries most directly involved in the region - the United States, the European Union and Russia - as well as Israel.
Churches in those countries should advocate for immediate ceasefires and protection of civilians, release or trial under due process of law of all those in detention as well as "multilateral implementation of long-delayed UN Security Council resolutions", including the end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories "that is the vortex of the region's violent storms".
These measures, together with "support for negotiations on equitable terms" and "the deployment of a multinational force capable of keeping peace" are some of the "alternatives to the violence in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza" which are within the grasp of the international community, Dr Kobia affirms.
In an 18 July letter to the WCC general secretary expressing appreciation for the latest World Council of Churches statement on the crisis, Prime Minister of Lebanon Fouad As-Sanioura declared: "We do know the continuous efforts that the WCC has been exerting for the last three decades towards Christian-Muslim dialogue and the good care and support the WCC gave to the stability of human relations, justice and balance of power in the world."
On 13 July 2006 Dr Kobia issued a statement strongly urging "all parties to immediately stop and reverse the escalation of the conflict and all use of the rhetoric of war", and insisting "fully and firmly on the need for all parties to protect civilians - Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian - in accordance with international law".
[Also on Ekklesia: Churches redouble efforts and prayers for an end to Middle East hostilities 21/07/06; Williams laments Lebanon vicious spiral of violence 20/07/06; Gaza, Israel and Lebanon crises are imperilling Middle East security 19/07/06; Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks 18/07/06; Pope condemns Lebanon raids as G8 converges and Blair blames Iran and Syria 17/07/06; Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge 16/07/06; Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East; UK church and aid agencies concerned over Gaza situation]