Scottish churches unite around plea for Israel-Palestine peace

By staff writers
June 7, 2008

Congregations of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, the country's two largest traditions, are being encouraged to make 8 June a Sunday pledged to peace in Israel and Palestine.

Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rev David Lunan, are asking churches to use ‘The Jerusalem Prayer’, a special petition written by church leaders in Jerusalem.

The call marks a worldwide week of prayer and action for Israel and Palestine coordinated by the World Council of Churches and other international church networks, launched at an ecumenical service in Jerusalem on Wednesday 4 June.

Churches in Ireland, England and Wales are also involved - some alongside the Day of Prayer called by the Christian Network of Campaign Against Arms Trade - highlighting the need to restrict, reduce and eliminate Britain's role in the international weapons trade that stokes global conflict.

The Church of Scotland moderator, who is set to visit Palestine and Israel as part of an ecumenical delegation, commented: “The continuing strife In the Holy Land is a matter of tremendous concern to all Christians and, indeed, to people of all faiths.

“I hope that... congregations across the country will unite in using ‘The Jerusalem Prayer’ this coming Sunday, that fear and the anxiety of conflict may be replaced with the joy and happiness of peace.”

The international week focuses on raising awareness of the Israel-Palestine conflict among churches and the public, and churches are pressing their national leaders to play a more active role in securing a just resolution to the conflict.

Cardinal O’Brien added his voice to the call for prayer and action, saying: “If there is anywhere where there should be a lasting peace, it is surely in the Holy Land – that place beloved by all Christians and peoples of goodwill, where Jesus handed on his own message of peace.

“Hopefully, our own Catholic congregations will join many others throughout our land in using ‘The Jerusalem Prayer’ on Sunday, following on the invitation of the Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem that there be a united prayer for peace in the Holy Land from all over the world.”

The Jerusalem Prayer asks God to "let the power of Your Redemption and Your Peace transcend all barriers of cultures and religions and fill the hearts of all who serve You here, of both peoples - Israeli and Palestinian - and of all religions.”

It also encourages political leaders on all sides to be "courageous enough to sign a treaty […] that puts an end to the occupation imposed by one people on another, granting freedom to Palestinians, giving security to Israelis and freeing us all from fear".

Jerusalem church leaders are also gathering the responses to an appeal they made in May for churches around the world to send in their wishes and prayers for the region and its believers.

The prayers, sent from as far afield as New Zealand and Cuba, will be used by the churches in Jerusalem throughout the week of action. Some will be read aloud at a ceremony on Sunday in Bethlehem's Manger Square, where a 'Living Clock' will commemorate the 60 years that Palestinians have lived as refugees.

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