Middle East crises: The Church in Wales responds

In September 2014, the Church in Wales’ Governing Body passed a resolution on various aspects of the crisis facing Middle East.  In this fast-changing situation, the points highlighted in September were:

  • Profound dismay at the deaths of very many hundreds of innocent Palestinians in Gaza, and the expulsion of the entire Christian population of Mosul (Iraq) over the summer;
  • Solidarity with our Christian sisters and brothers in the Middle East and elsewhere who face danger or persecution;
  • Calling upon Israel to find ways to end threats to its security without the killing of innocents;
  • Calling upon spiritual leaders of Islam to support communities of different religions to live together peacefully.

(Full text of the resolution can be found in Highlights, September 2014, p8)

Some practical actions to carry out this resolution, and how parishes and church members can get involved, are highlighted here.

“THE WORLD IS TOO SMALL FOR US NOT TO BE FRIENDS”

Hosted by Darren Millar AM, representatives of the Church in Wales, the Moslem Council of Wales and the Jewish Community in Wales met at the Senedd on December 9  – as we prepared to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace – to pledge our commitment to living together in peace and friendship across the faiths in Wales.

photo 1At the Senedd:  Darren Millar AM, Abdul-Azim Ahmed, Stanley Soffa, Revd Jonathan Durley, Revd Canon Carol Wardman, Mike Hedges AM

AID, TRADE AND INFORMATION

Be informed about the situation in various parts of the region:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17258397  (Syria)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special_reports/middle_east_crisis/  (Israel/Palestine)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29052144  (Islamic State)

Briefings from Christian Aid and Oxfam:

http://www.christianaid.org.uk/whatwedo/middle-east/iopt.aspx

http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/cease-failure-rethinking-seven-years-of-failing-policies-in-gaza-324746

The UK government is active both in humanitarian relief, and through international relations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/syria-the-latest-updates-on-uk-aid

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/377589/Syria_UK_Non-Humanitarian_Support_-_Public_Document.pdf

In Prayer and In Practice

Christian agencies working in the region provide humanitarian aid, education about the current situation, and support to human rights and peacemaking.

Christian Aid has special appeals for Gaza and Syria:

http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/current/gaza-emergency-appeal/index.aspx

http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/current/syria-crisis-appeal/index.aspx

Churches can sign up for the Emergency Churches Scheme, fast-tracking donations for a rapid response to the latest emergency.

http://act.christianaid.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=48&ea.campaign.id=28362&ea.tracking.id=emergencies-rhpod

Barnabas Fund works in many countries where Christians are persecuted, including with Syrian and Iraqi Christian refugees, and with Christians in Palestine.

http://barnabasfund.org/

Embrace the Middle East (formerly BibleLands) supports mostly long-term development work in Israel, Palestine and Egypt.

http://www.embraceme.org/

Open Doors highlights problems faced by persecuted Christians in various parts of the world.  They provide information and educational materials aimed at the UK, including ideas for youth groups and schools – but also contribute funding and support to persecuted churches.

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/worldwatch/iraq.php

Sabeel  – ‘the way’ – is ‘an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians.’  It provides study materials and encourages a permanent programme of prayer for Palestine across the world.

http://www.sabeel.org/waveofprayer.php

Ecumenical Accompaniers, a programme from the World Council of Churches, deploys volunteers to monitor human rights in Palestine, and can provide speakers to visit churches and other groups.

http://www.eappi.org/en/

The Middle East Council of Churches is the delivery mechanism for the Church in Wales-sponsored mobile dental clinic in Gaza, and other development projects.

http://mecc.org/content/programs

Use Your Spending Power!

Fair Trade is an important and significant aspect of development in Palestine, promoting self-determination, sustainable livelihoods, and access to export markets.  Churches at home and abroad are a key part of the movement:  the Middle East Council of Churches works closely with Fairtrade Palestine.

Make sure you sign up to the Church in Wales’ Fairtrade Province Initiative, and look especially for Palestinian products in Fair Trade shops and online.

http://www.zaytoun.org/home/the-zaytoun-story/  (top quality Palestinian olive oil)

http://fairtradewales.com/ (with links to Fair Trade outlets across the country)