British churches join in prayers for peace, justice
3/21/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
By United Methodist News ServiceThe
president of the British Methodist Church and the moderator for the
Free Churches of Britain issued statements March 21 calling for peace
and justice in Iraq and worldwide.
The statements followed a meeting of faith leaders at Lambeth Palace, home of the archbishop of Canterbury.
behalf of the Methodist Church, we wish to support entirely the faith
leaders, Christian, Muslim and Jewish, who met at Lambeth Palace today,"
said the Rev. Ian White and Professor Peter Howdle, president and vice
president of the Methodist Conference.
"The prayers of the
Methodist people are for peace and justice - in Iraq and across the
world," they said. "We urge that everything possible will be done to
minimize the loss of life in the conflict in Iraq.
especially mindful of all those who are directly involved in the
fighting, on both sides, and of their families and friends. Our hearts
go out to the relatives of those who have lost their lives in the early
hours of military action. Methodist ministers who are serving as
chaplains in all three of the armed services are especially close to our
hearts as they exercise a particularly demanding ministry."
they "shall not cease to pray" for Prime Minister Tony Blair and all
members of the government, the Methodists called for British leaders to:
Â· Achieve their military aims with minimum loss of life and damage to Iraq's cities and villages.
Work with the United Nations, aid agencies and all interested political
groups to support at the earliest possible time a new administration in
Iraq that has the consent of the Iraqi people.
Â· Declare a renewed commitment on behalf of the government to support the U.N. Security Council.
Methodist Church makes clear its continuing commitment to do all in its
power to promote good community relations everywhere, and especially
where Christian, Muslim and Jewish people live in close proximity to one
White is the most senior minister in the British
Methodist Church, and Howdle is the most senior layperson. The Methodist
Church is the largest of the Free Churches in Britain, with more than
320,000 members attending about 6,100 congregations.
David Coffey, moderator of the Free Churches, represented Methodists as
well as other denominations at the Lambeth meeting.
In a joint
statement, the faith leaders there expressed concern for the British
forces, "their families and everyone caught up in this conflict â€¦
especially those whose lives or loved ones have been lost."
religious leaders from several faiths, we are here to signal the common
ground on which we stand and to reaffirm the values we share at this
time of tension, conflict and discord," they said. They prayed that God
will grant "wisdom, judgment and compassion" to political and military
leaders, and emphasized the need to protect the rights of innocent
civilians affected by the conflict.
"This is a conflict neither
about religion nor between religions," the faith leaders said. "We
completely reject any attempt to misrepresent it in this way. As
Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders in this country, we
believe that it is vital, amid so much uncertainty and turmoil, to
resist any attempt to drive our communities apart."
action is "a limited means to an end," they said. "We pray that early
efforts to achieve a just, lasting and secure peace both in Iraq and
throughout the Middle East may follow swiftly in the footsteps of war."
Coffey, the group included the Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of
Canterbury; Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster;
Dr. Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi; Shaikh Zaki Badawi, chairman of the
Council of Mosques and Imams UK; and the Rev. Esme Beswick, co-president
of Churches Together in England.
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