Free Churches urge caution over Syria

By staff writers
August 29, 2013

Senior figures from the Methodist Church in Britain, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have released a short statement on the crisis in Syria.

The Free church leaders urge the UK government to be cautious in its response, but hold back from a direct comment on armed action.

They say: "At this time of challenge and uncertainty we pray for the people of Syria, thinking especially of those who have suffered or died as a result of an apparent use of chemical weapons near Damascus.

"We also pray for wisdom and discernment from political leaders in Britain and other nations. We urge them to take time for careful consideration and resist [a] hasty response.

"Syria has experienced a cycle of violence for too long. We pray that our nation’s response will be guided by the desire to achieve peace and urge our leaders to work with as wide as possible a range of regional partners and with the United Nations."

The statement has been signed by the Rev Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and the Rev Dr Michael Jagessar, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.

The three Churches have also drawn attention to the 27 August statement from the World Council of Churches (WCC) condemning the use of chemical weapons and calling on UN to fulfil its responsibility to protect Syrians.

The Quakers in Britain, along with a number of Christian peace organisations, have more forthrightly appealed against a military strike on Syria and further armed intervention in the region.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said he fears the possible consequences of intervention, eluding to them as "beyond description and horrible".

The comments come ahead of a crucial Parliamentary debate on Syria, and the plans being made by the US government and its allies for a punitive strike against President Assad.

MPs may have two votes before "direct" military action is taken by the UK in Syria, the government has conceded, according to the BBC. A Commons motion, to be debated today (29 August), states the second vote should be held after UN inspectors report on an alleged chemical attack. But there are fears that the US will initiate a strike before this happens.

* 'Syria: what lies behind the clamour for military strikes?', by Simon Barrow: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18911

* More on Syria from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/syria

[Ekk/3]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.