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NCC delegation to seek peace opportunities in Middle East

 


NCC delegation to seek peace opportunities in Middle East

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UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey

A Palestinian boy searches through the rubble of a house in Nablus blown up by the Israeli military, purportedly because it was being used as a hiding place for Islamic militants.
Jan. 21, 2005

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The question "How can we make the current opportunity for peace a reality?" will be central to the Jan. 21-Feb. 4 mission of a National Council of Churches delegation to the Middle East.

The 11-member group will be led by Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr., a Christian Methodist Episcopal Church leader and NCC president, and the Rev. Robert W. Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and the agency’s chief executive.

They will press their conviction that governments and people of faith must seize the opportunity presented by recent developments — for example, the election of new Palestinian leadership and the Israeli government’s movement on the settlement issue — to get the Middle East peace process back on track.

"We will ask the question, ‘Is this the opportunity for peace?,’ state our conviction that it is and explore ways communities of faith can help," Edgar said.

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Jim Winkler
The delegation leaves the United States on Jan. 21 for Beirut, Lebanon (Jan. 22-24), Cairo, Egypt (Jan. 24-27), and Israel and the Palestinian territories (Jan. 27-Feb. 4). Along the way, it will meet with the Middle East Council of Churches, senior Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, and grass-roots and interfaith organizations working for peace.

The delegation has meetings confirmed with senior members of the Israeli government and has requested time with officials in the Palestinian Authority.

Along with peacemaking, the group’s other top concern is the situation of Christians in the Holy Land and the ongoing exodus of Christians from the region.

The last two NCC delegation visits to the Middle East were in May 2003 and April 2002.

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The Rev. Robert Edgar
James Winkler, chief executive, United Methodist Board of Church and Society, is part of the delegation. In addition to Hoyt, Edgar and Winkler, other delegation members are His Grace Bishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Washington: Sylvia Campbell, adjunct professor, George Washington University, Washington, and a member of the Alliance of Baptists; the Rev. Thelma Chambers-Young, Progressive National Baptist Convention Inc., Oklahoma City; and the Rev. Seung Koo Choi, chief executive, Korean Presbyterian Church in America, Anaheim, Calif.

Also, the Rt. Rev. (Bishop) C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer, the Episcopal Church, New York; Ann Hafften, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Weatherford, Texas; the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), professor at Eden Seminary, St. Louis; and Antonios Kireopoulos, Greek Orthodox, NCC staff executive for international affairs and peace, New York.

*Information for this story was provided by Carol Fouke with the National Council of Churches’ communications office.

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

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