UCC officers call on U.S. to assist Syrian refugees
Two officers of the United Church of Christ have joined 23 ecumenical colleagues, in calling on the United States government to keep its attention on the Syrian Civil War and act accordingly to bring stability and peace to the region. The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the UCC, and the Rev. James A. Moos, executive minister of the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries, are standing with leaders of Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, historic Peace, and Catholic churches to help end the conflict that has engulfed Syria and its people – many of whom have fled throughout the Middle East.
“We feel deeply the pain of all who are caught in the midst of war,” the letter from the faith leaders reads. It was addressed to President Barack Obama on July 31. There have been more than 100,000 Syrian deaths in the conflict, which began in March 2011 in an uprising against the government. More than 4 million Syrians have been displaced, with 1.7 million seeking refuge in neighboring Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
The letter, also signed by the Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), urges the U.S. government to continue humanitarian relief. But it carefully cautions the government against offering military assistance. “Military involvement will only further escalate an already brutal war and will, in fact, undermine the prospect of negotiations to ensure a just and sustainable future for all Syrians,” the letter states. “Rather, the U.S. should call for all parties to cease all military activities in Syria and work urgently to de-escalate the crisis.”
“We are grateful for the humanitarian assistance provided thus far by the U.S. government and encourage an ongoing and robust response,” the letter reads. “These funds must be used in an impartial manner, in keeping with international standards. Furthermore, these monies must be in addition to, and not instead of, funding for the ongoing needs of refugees and internally displaced people in other countries. In addition, all parties to the conflict must allow immediate access to all persons in need.”
Global Ministries – a joint ministry of the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – has been active in supporting humanitarian relief efforts through several Middle Eastern partners. UCC and Disciples members are encouraged to support such work by their contributions to Syria relief through One Great Hour of Sharing and the Week of Compassion.