Thursday, October 09, 2003


The Middle East Forum of CTBI's Churches' Commission on Mission has circulated the following to the British and Irish church media in the light of the unfolding tragedy in Israel/Palestine:

"These are difficult times in the Middle East, with political instability, economic hardship, the continued recourse to weapons of war and violence, and deep suspicion of the motives of Western governments, not least with regard to Israel and Palestine. The indigenous Christian communities in the region share these difficulties, and are put at risk by the mistaken but common identification of Christianity with the actions of the US and UK governments.

"These communities have from the beginning formed an integral part of the life and culture of the region, but Christians have been emigrating, feeling that there is no future for them in the land of their birth. If Christianity were to die out in its very place of origin, it would be a tragedy for the whole Church as well as for the hopes for peace.

"In the days before the latest Iraq War many in our Churches were associated with the widespread protests and with criticism of the United Kingdom government. This was well reported in the Middle East and did much to lessen the belief that this was a war between Christianity and Islam. Whatever the mix of good and evil that is now resulting from the war, the danger of a “clash of civilizations” has not receded and Christian communities remain highly vulnerable.

"The Middle East Forum of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s Commission on Mission asks that we continue to remember Middle East Christians in our prayers, words and actions. For example the material prepared for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2004 (see originates from the Syrian Church with its history of promoting good relations between Christians and Muslims. That week will provide a great opportunity for us to hear the voice of our Christian brothers and sisters there and to grow in understanding of and solidarity with them.

"It remains possible to visit the region and the Churches there; we can invite Middle East Christians to British and Irish Churches; we can establish partnerships; we can advocate clearly; we can support those agencies and individuals working with the churches in their witness and service; and we can hold all who suffer in our prayers.

"This is a critical time for them and for the world. What we do can make a crucial difference to what the future holds."

On behalf of the Middle East Forum (which is the meeting of Middle East specialists of CTBI member Churches and agencies):
The Revd Colin Morton and Dr Aziz Noor.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Inter-Church House
35-41 Lower Marsh
London SE1 7SA Contact phone number 07939 139881

[This letter was picked up in the UK by The Church Times and The Baptist Times. ]

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