World Council of Churches General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has congratulated the British Methodist Conference's “important and forward looking resolutions by your church around the question of a just peace for Palestine and Israel.”
The conference, which met from 24 June to 1 July 2010 in Portsmouth, England, has received a report entitled “Justice for Palestine and Israel” and voted on 11 resolutions pertaining to it. These include a request to the Methodist Faith and Order Committee to “undertake further work on the theological issues, including Christian Zionism, raised in the report that are needed to guide and support the approach of the Methodist Church to the Israeli/Palestinian situation”.
On a more practical ground, the Conference called on the Methodist people “to support and engage with [the] boycott of Israeli goods” emanating from illegal settlements as their response to a call of the WCC in 2009 supported by Palestinian Christians in their recent Kairos document, and a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide.
The Conference also called for a full arms embargo as an important step towards a just peace in the region.
Dr Tveit underlined the “thoroughness of the process that preceded the inclusive decision making” and stated how the UK Methodists “have set parameters which will be a model worth replicating in many arenas.”
In his letter of congratulation to the president designate of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Lionel Osborn, and to the vice-president designate, Ruth Pickles, Tveit expressed deep satisfaction with the “transparent spirit that can provide a genuine space for a church body to develop church policy that embodies the Christian understanding that ‘we are all one’ in the Spirit and one in the Lord.”
This oneness was symbolised when the conference prayed the Lord's Prayer together following the vote.
“Palestinian Christians will certainly take courage and strength from the implementation of the report’s resolutions. They will be more courageous in denouncing all forms of violence and to invoke the need for enforcing international law by bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories,” Tveit added.
“We trust that Methodists in Britain and, indeed, people everywhere, will be influenced and impacted by your call to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements as a pathway to a lasting and sustainable peace in the region.”
Such actions, he stated, “are visible proof of your irreversible conviction that God demands that we dare more than words.”
Commending the spirit of the resolution, Dr Tveit also recognised "that your agenda is neither divisive in spirit nor in intent. The approved resolutions of the conference are a clear response to the aspirations for a just peace both by Palestinian Christians as well as a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide.”
The Conference also resolved to commend the Palestine/Israel report to local churches, circuits and districts “for reflection and action” and to support the “vital work” of the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), encouraging Methodists to volunteer in the programme.
The Methodist Church is the fourth largest Christian denomination in Britain.