Disciples, UCC national leadership issue pastoral letter on Syria
National leadership of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ released today a pastoral letter on the crisis in Syria. Both denominations’ General Ministers and Presidents, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins (Disciples) and the Rev. Geoffrey Black (UCC), as well as Global Ministries’ Co-Executives, the Rev. Julia Brown Karimu (President of the Disciples’ Division of Overseas Ministries) and the Rev. Dr. James Moos (Executive Minister of the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries) shared the letter for use by the respective communions, and as an expression of solidarity and support for partners in Syria and the Middle East who have been impacted by, and who have responded to, the continuing crisis.
The two-page letter begins by offering a brief overview of the conflict, lamenting the extent of the tragedy of the past 2 years. It goes on to give background of Syria’s demography, highlighting the Christian presence there, with which Global Ministries has been working for more than a century. The humanitarian reponse of partners in the region, supported by the UCC and Disciples is commended, and the need to support a diplomatic resolution to the conflict is also emphasized.
The letter’s epigraph is from Isaiah, chapter 17, which says, “See, Damascus will cease to be a city, and will become a heap of ruins. Her towns will be deserted forever.” The pastoral letter concludes, though, saying, “Damascus is a place of transformation—where Paul regained his sight and was changed for life. We recognize that God can inspire change in the hearts of God’s children. We pray that warring factions will see the futility of their actions, and that they recognize that only death and destruction results.”
Revs. Watkins, Black, Brown Karimu, and Moos urge members of the UCC and Disciples to respond to crisis through prayer; by learning about partners in Syria and the Middle East, and their witness; by working to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict; and by supporting the humanitarian response of our partners, through One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion.