NCC delegation returns from Moscow peace mission
3/6/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: A head-and-shoulders photograph of the Rev. Robert Edgar is available at http://umns.umc.org/photos/headshots.html.
By United Methodist News ServiceAn
ecumenical delegation that visited Moscow March 4-5 urged the Russian
government to continue searching for a peaceful solution to the Iraq
Sponsored by the U.S. National Council of Churches, the
delegation include the Rev. Robert Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and
the NCC's chief executive; the Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church
in America and a former NCC president; and the Rev. Keith Clements,
chief executive, Conference of European Churches.
urging good allies to be good allies â€¦ by not letting the United
States do something inappropriate," Edgar told United Methodist News
Service in a March 6 telephone interview. In this case, the Russian
officials and U.S. church leaders are in accord - or as Edgar put it,
the Russians are "on the same hymn that we're on."
Orthodox Church hosted the visit. Two officials from its department of
external church relations, the Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin and the Rev. Andrei
Elisseyev, accompanied the group during an hour-long meeting with three
high-level representatives of the Russian government. They were
Alexandr Manzhosin, first deputy chief, foreign policy department,
Alexandr Saltanov, deputy minister of foreign affairs, and Yevgeny
Primakov, former prime minister and new special envoy to Baghdad.
members also met with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad,
president of the Russian church's department of external relations.
a March 5 news briefing in Paris, France and Russia announced they
would block a new U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing force
against Iraq. Edgar said he believes the Bush administration will
withdraw the resolution "if there's any chance of a veto."
NCC-sponsored delegations have visited government officials and church
representatives in Berlin, Paris, London and Rome. "I'm still optimistic
about this whole effort," Edgar added about the NCC's peace initiative
in Europe. "I think President Bush would be ill-advised to go to war
without large multinational support."
He believes the delegation
visits were important. "The fact that we met face-to-face with (German
leader Gerhard) Schroeder, with (Britain's) Tony Blair, and with the
pope makes it clearly worthwhile," he said. People in those nations now
know "the United States is not talking about war with the unanimous
support of its people."
The next steps for NCC-sponsored action
to promote peace may include prayer vigils at the New York consulate
offices of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, according
He also hopes to make April 4 a day of prayer and
reflection. On that date in 1967, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a
"definitive speech on war" at Riverside Church in New York, Edgar said.
A year later, to the day, King was assassinated.
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