|A UMNS photo courtesy of the United Nations.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (center, beneath U.N. logo) meets with delegates from the National Council of Churches.
May 25, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) — An international ecumenical delegation, including United
Methodists, has met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to support
that body’s involvement in Iraq.
May 24 — the same day as the 40-minute meeting between the religious
leaders and Annan — the U.N. Security Council began discussing a new
resolution defining the role of the United Nations in Iraq. A draft
resolution introduced by the United States and Great Britain backed the
proposal of U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for transfer of power to a
caretaker government on June 30, and endorsed a timetable for
U.N.-planned elections for a national Iraqi assembly by the end of
January, according to the New York Times.
a live televised address later that evening, President Bush said the
U.S. government has a five-point plan for Iraq that includes the June 30
transfer of power, elections as early as January and encouragement of
more international support.
by the National Council of Churches and led by the Rev. Robert Edgar, a
United Methodist pastor and the agency’s chief executive, the 11-member
delegation advocated for U.N. leadership in Iraq.
believe that it’s important for the religious community to weigh in at
this time,” Edgar said during a press conference at the Church Center
for the United Nations, following the meeting with Annan. Those who
opposed the war in Iraq and those who supported the war need to come
together and find “an alternate way out of the current situation,” Edgar
|UMNS photo by John Goodwin.
Rev. Robert Edgar (left) and Jim Winkler were part of an 11-member NCC
delegation that met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Jim Winkler, chief
executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, pointed
to the need for the United Nations to establish its own plan for working
with the transitional Iraqi government and to avoid just becoming a
tool of the U.S. transition process.
urged him (Annan) to really make sure the United Nations has authority
in this situation,” he told United Methodist News Service.
Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, said the United Nations is clearly “the crucial link” for Iraq
to move from occupation to self-governance.
opinions are not confined to U.S. church leaders. The Rev. Keith
Clements, chief executive of the Conference of European Churches,
pointed out that the European church community wants to see “a truly
multilateral approach to this crisis” and considers the United Nations
to be “the main instrument” in achieving that goal.
noted that the NCC delegation also offered pastoral support to the U.N.
secretary-general and spoke about issues beyond Iraq, such as global
poverty, HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation.
a larger sense, the world is at a crossroads,” Winkler said. “We
encouraged him to think about having an annual ‘state of the world’
he acknowledged that the United Nations hasn’t always been popular with
Americans, Winkler pointed to the United Methodist Church’s long
involvement with and commitment to that institution — a commitment
embodied in the denomination-owned building across the street from U.N.
headquarters. “We really have stood by the United Nations since its
inception,” he said.
who met a week earlier with the Rev. Sam Kobia of the World Council of
Churches, has always been open to dialogue with religious leaders, Edgar
observed. “I was pleased at how well we were received by the
secretary-general,” he added.
members of the delegation included the Rev. Karen Hamilton, chief
executive, Canadian Council of Churches; Bishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocese
of the Armenian Church of America; the Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick, stated
clerk, Presbyterian Church USA; the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky,
ecumenical officer, Orthodox Church in America; the Rev. Michael
Livingston, executive director, International Council of Community
Churches; the Rev. Paul Renshaw, coordinating secretary of international
affairs, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland; Tony Kireopoulos,
NCC executive for international affairs and peace.
Carol Fouke accompanied the group as NCC media liaison.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media can contact Linda Bloom at (646) 369-3759 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.