By Thomas Kemper
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As people of faith around the world join in prayer for the people of Syria, we pray not only for those who are suffering but also for those who have the power to stop the violence.
United Methodists are led by a tradition of justice and of grace. We seek accountability for the violence that has inflicted suffering throughout Syria and the region and are shocked by the most recent atrocity of chemical warfare. The conflict has left millions without homes, thousands are dead, and millions of lives will never be the same. Our social principles say that, “we believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy.” As followers of Christ, we are anointed as peacemakers – we know that adding violence to violence is not the answer.
In a conversation this week with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of Global Ministries, she said that before taking a position, it is important to take an intentional moment to affirm the value of all people as children of God. I was reminded that when we view each person through the lens of God’s love, we will move toward grace and away from violence. We can begin to heal while looking for diplomatic solutions. Through this lens of God’s love, we see clearly that responding to the crisis in Syria by adding more suffering to the people there is not a solution that will bring peace.
So what do we do? How do we move toward peace building and alleviating suffering for the Syrian people? There are several channels through our Connection that can guide us:
An action alert has been issued by the Peace with Justice unit of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, asking church members to call on Congress to oppose a U.S. military attack on Syria and support “vigorous peace negotiations” instead. I urge you to share this action alert with your congregation and community. The next few days are critical for all of us to pray and act.
As with any disaster, our United Methodist Committee on Relief is cooperating with partners on the ground in the region to assist affected communities, bringing hope to those in need. UMCOR has also made provisions to distribute more than 70,000 relief supply kits to the most vulnerable populations in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Download this resource to read about UMCOR’s response and how you can help.
We must continue to pray for peace and for healing. The crisis in Syria is bigger than us but not bigger than our loving God. I invite you to join me in responding to the call of Pope Francis in lifting up prayers for Syria today and into the coming days and weeks.
In mission and ministry together,
United Methodist Church
General Board of Global Ministries