Church mission executives issue call for peace
1/31/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: A photograph of the Rev. R. Randy Day is available at http://umns.umc.org/photos/headshots.html.
YORK (UMNS) - Staff leaders of the United Methodist Church's mission
agency issued an international call Jan. 31 for peace and justice in
The Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries, noted the need for prayer and
advocacy on that issue. "We are praying that God will provide an
alternative to a United States-led attack on Iraq, and we are also
praying that the leaders of Iraq will give strong assurances of their
commitment to peace and freedom for their people," he said in a response
to President Bush's State of the Union address.
"We tried to
find in the address some signs that the U.S. would allow a larger window
for the arms inspection and negotiations processes," he added in the
statement released by the Board of Global Ministries. "Finding none, we
are deeply fearful of a massive military conflict that will result in
thousands of military and civilian deaths.
"As Christians, our
prayers should include government leaders, military personnel and their
families, and the sure-to-be victims on all sides," Day said. "We should
also pray for the souls of those who in business and commerce welcome
war because it enriches them."
The statement noted the stand
against war in the denomination's Social Principles and the need to
avert war if at all possible. "As a major American humanitarian
organization, we at the board are agonized by the possibility of being
called upon to bring medical and material aid to persons who would not
be homeless or injured except for bombs that might have been avoided,"
He called upon all participants in the global United
Methodist mission community - missionaries, staff, program networks,
volunteers, supportive congregations and employees of institutions - to
set aside at least 15 minutes each day to pray for a peaceful settlement
to the Iraqi crisis. He also urged them to organize public peace vigils
and prayer services, and to speak out to government officials on behalf
of a negotiated settlement in Iraq.
Joyce Sohl, chief executive
of the board's Women's Division, pointed to the work already being done
in the ongoing Campaign for Peace: Christian Women Pray for Peace,
launched in early December by the division. United Methodist Women also
are collecting "postcards for peace" to be used in an Easter Vigil for
Peace at the White House in Washington. More information is available at
October, Women's Division directors rejected an armed attack on Iraq as a
way to respond to the Iraqi arms situation and urged both the United
States and the United Nations to "pursue peaceful means in resolving
conflicts with Iraq."
The Rev. Paul Dirdak, chief executive of
the United Methodist Committee on Relief, noted that nongovernmental
relief organizations are gearing up for a "new robust presence in Iraq
to repair the damage which U.S. or other bombers and tanks will do in
the event of war."
He expressed concern about initiating such efforts if an alternative to war can be found.
is a hard issue, but we must be careful lest our humanitarian efforts
be used to somehow sanitize and excuse war," Dirdak said. "We must be
careful about what we ask the people of the United Methodist Church to
support. As the church, we must also struggle with the issue of whether
or how we accept funds for humanitarian aid from governments that offer
them as part of their combat planning. If and when the time comes that
there is no longer any possibility - whatsoever - that war can be
avoided, our church will do everything that is financially and humanly
possible to come to the aid of people who suffer."
For more information on UMCOR's work, go to the board's Web site at http://gbgm-umc.org/.
the United Methodist General Conference speaks for the entire church.
The denomination's top legislative assembly meets every four years and
will convene again in 2004.
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