|US Army Photo by Sgt. April L. Johnson
U.S. soldiers pass out school supplies to Iraqi children in a small village west of Bayji, Iraq.
By United Methodist News Service
United Methodist Church’s mission and advocacy agencies have expressed
“prayerful concern” about the results of the transfer of power in Iraq
and prospects for long-term peace there.
Methodist Board of Global Ministries officials as well as the top
executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society released
statements acknowledging that the power transfer is a step toward peace
but are concerned about the authenticity of the control that the Iraqi
people will have.
a statement issued June 28 – the same day the United States and its
military allies transferred authority to an Iraqi administration –
Bishop Joel Martinez, president of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, and the Rev. R. Randy Day, the board’s chief executive,
noted that international collaboration through the United Nations “is
the only means of achieving security in the future.”
mission agency hopes to participate in relief efforts, but acknowledged
the difficulties involved. “We await greater opportunities to engage in
social and economic rehabilitation in Iraq, but we are concerned for
the immediate and long-range future of relief programs, especially for
existing services to children in this violent and violated country,” the
|U.S. Army photo by Katherine M. Roth
soldier trains a group of Iraqi Civil Defense Forces (ICDC) personnel
on the proper procedures for clearing a building near Al Kut, Iraq.
They also voiced
continuing concerns about the effects of the war and post-war policies
on military personnel and their families.
expressing concerns about military that will remain in Iraq and that
country’s new leadership was the Rev. James Winkler, chief executive of
the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
a June 29 call to United Methodist News Service, Winkler said that “the
transfer of power to the people of Iraq is definitely a step forward
toward seeing peace and security for the people of Iraq,” but
highlighted two concerns.
new Prime Minister (Iyad) Allawi and his organization have long been on
the payroll of the CIA and I have concerns about how authentic
sovereignty will be for a government lead by a prime minister who has
been receiving CIA funds for so many years.”
also said that reports he has read indicate that the “United States is
in the process of building as many as 14 permanent military bases in
Iraq, which leads me to also question whether the Iraqi people will have
true control while the United States maintains many thousands of
soldiers and military personnel in their country.”
The full statement from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries follows:
Statement on the Transfer of Power in Iraq
June 28, 2004
Bishop Joel N. Martinez, President
The Rev. R. Randy Day, General Secretary
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church
are prayerfully concerned about the short- and long-term results of the
transfer of Iraq’s sovereignty by the United States and its military
allies, with power handed over to an Iraqi administration today, June
28, 2004. Our perspectives on Iraq are based in our Christian mission
commitments to alleviate human suffering and promote freedom, justice
and peace. Four overlapping issues command our attention with regard to
Iraq at this time:
- International Action.
We are pleased that the United Nations is taking a major role in the
transition. We see international collaboration as the only means of
achieving security in the future. As recently as May 8, the United
Methodist Council of Bishops called for U.N. participation in the
rebuilding of Iraq. We pray that the U.S.-led military coalition will
allow the U.N. to do its work without interference. We affirm the U.N.
Security Council’s call for the “rights of the Iraqi people freely to
determine their own political future and to exercise full authority and
control over their financial and natural resources.”
- Relief and Rehabilitation.
We await greater opportunities to engage in social and economic
rehabilitation in Iraq, but we are concerned for the immediate and
long-range future of relief programs, especially for existing services
to children in this violent and violated country. Through the United
Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), we are working with partner
humanitarian organizations to provide for the needs of children. Some of
those groups hope to remain in Iraq after the political change, but
others, anticipating intensified violence, may withdraw. We are
committed to assist with refugee and relief programs as long as viable
systems of service delivery are available.
- Military Personnel and Security.
We dare to dream of peace in Iraq, but we are concerned about the
continuing impact of the war and post-war policies on peace-keeping
military personnel and their families. We pray that a multinational
security force, working with the Iraqi police and military, can bring
about peace and calm. We reissue our bishops’ call for prayers for all
“military personnel and their families who have sacrificed as a result
of this war,” and pray that there will be no more killing and wounding
of military personnel or civilians inside Iraq. We are concerned about
the impact on families and children of second Iraq tours of duty by
personnel of the coalition forces.
- Use of Military Power.
As we pray for justice in Iraq, we continue to be distressed by the
assumptions about military rights and might evidenced by the U.S.-led
coalition in its intervention in Iraq, despite the horrifying human
rights record of the Hussein regime. Our discomfort with the Preemptive
Doctrine of the United States is intensified by 1) the abuse of Iraqi
prisoners by U.S. personnel; 2) the assertion by the bipartisan
Commission on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that no “operational
relationship” existed between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden; and 3)
the lack of evidence of weapons of massive destruction, which threat
was put forth by the U.S. and Britain as the primary reason for their
United Methodists, “we deplore war” and work for the peaceful
settlement of disputes (2000 Book of Discipline, Par 164G). We affirm
the right and duty of people of all nations to determine their own
destiny (2000 Book of Discipline, Par 165B). We acknowledge our
Christian responsibility to provide relief and rehabilitation for
victims of war and ministries of reconciliation for combatants. We
affirm the need for sensitive and caring ministries to military
personnel and their families.
invite men and women of all nations and religions to work together in
the reconstruction of Iraq, and to join hands in building an unbreakable
global network of peace and justice.
News media contact: Linda Bloom·(646)369-3759·New York· E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.