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Mission leaders call for Gaza cease-fire


A woman, injured in the recent violence between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, is treated at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of Al Ahli Arab Hospital, ACT International.

By Elliott Wright*
Jan. 7, 2009 |  NEW YORK (UMNS)


Bishop Bruce Ough

The two top mission leaders of The United Methodist Church have appealed to President George W. Bush to use his remaining days in office to bring about "an immediate cease-fire in Gaza" that will "effectively permit humanitarian relief" to civilians in the Palestinian enclave, under heavy attack by Israel.

In a joint "Appeal on Gaza" issued Jan. 7, West Ohio Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and the Rev. Edward W. Paup, its top executive, said such actions would "heighten the moral standing" of the outgoing Bush administration in the United States. A few days earlier, the United States had vetoed a cease-fire proposal in the Security Council of the United Nations.

The mission agency and its United Methodist Committee on Relief are especially concerned about the unmet needs of civilians whose lives have been disrupted by, first, Israeli bombing of Gaza, and second, a massive ground invasion. Israel says its military action was in retaliation for rockets fired at an Israeli town near Gaza by the Hamas faction that controls Gaza.

Responding with relief

UMCOR is working through partner agencies to respond to the needs for food, water and medical care within Gaza, where, according to the Ough-Paup statement, "military strikes are currently destroying homes, schools, and places of worship in one of the most densely populated places in the world." The statement continued:

Both an immediate cease-fire and full and unimpeded humanitarian access are desperately needed in response to this latest outbreak of military action. As bombs continue to explode and Israeli tanks roll across Gaza, diplomatic assessments of blame and stubborn adherence to failed policies are unacceptable. Decisive action is required to stop the carnage and to provide for Palestinians who for years have been virtual prisoners in Gaza, hemmed in by closed military borders on all sides.


The Rev. Edward Paup

The statement also stressed that "The United Methodist Church has a long heritage of support for international law and equal rights as the basis for just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians."

A cease-fire was in effect between Israel and Hamas from last July through early November. Tensions resulting in new outbreaks of violence escalated in recent weeks.

Prayers needed

The Ough-Paup statement said the Bush administration still has time "to take decisive action to persuade Israel to pull back from its massive military initiative, and to provide an opportunity for the people of Gaza to receive much-needed fuel, flour for bread, and medical supplies and spare parts for hospitals."

The mission leaders urged prayers for peace by Christians, Jews and Muslims, and it commended United Methodist missionaries in the region "for their steadfastness in serving persons in need, and in representing the Methodist commitment to peace in the Holy Land."

Global Ministries has four missionaries in the area:

  • Alex and Brenda Awad, based at Bethlehem Bible College;
  • Janet Lahrs Lewis, who serves as liaison among ecumenical groups in the Palestinian territories and Israel.
  • Davis Hosey, a mission intern assigned to an ecumenical center in Jerusalem.

UMCOR is contributing to humanitarian efforts in Gaza through partner agencies already at work in the region. Donations can be made to “Middle East Emergency, UMCOR Advance #601740” by placing checks in church collection plates; going to www.umcor.org and clicking on “Gaza Crisis”; calling (888) 252-6174; or mailing a check to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068.

*Wright is the communications officer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Related Articles

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Resources

"An Appeal on Gaza"

Letter of concern about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza (Women's Division)

Board of Global Ministries

United Methodist Committee on Relief

BBC: Gaza conflict

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