Jan. 21, 2005
|UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey
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.
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.
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.
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.
will ask the question, ‘Is this the opportunity for peace?,’ state our
conviction that it is and explore ways communities of faith can help,"
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.
delegation has meetings confirmed with senior members of the Israeli
government and has requested time with officials in the Palestinian
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 last two NCC delegation visits to the Middle East were in May 2003 and April 2002.
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.
The Rev. Robert Edgar
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.