Mennonite Church Canada has responded with letters of support to the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community and the Middle East Council of Churches. The organizations state that their member congregations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon are struggling “to preserve what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence in the East, and to circumvent its complete demise,” in the face of ongoing violence.
After outlining some of the horrific circumstances faced by Christians and others, the appeal from the two church organizations urged fellow Christian church bodies to encourage their governments and decision-makers to take action. Raising awareness, stopping abuse and displacement under the threat of arms, and working for a long-term strategy that will end the phenomena of violence and displacement are imperative, they maintain.
“We want to assure you that we are praying for you during this difficult time,” Willard Metzger, MC Canada’s executive director, wrote to the two organizations on Oct. 6. “We pray for people of all faith traditions who are affected by war, and especially our fellow Christians. We pray for protection from those who use violence to achieve their goals. We pray for all Christian churches in the region, that they will be equipped to respond with God’s spirit of love to the many needs around you.”
Metzger also pointed out that there are “many people from Mennonite churches praying and working for peace in the Middle East,” citing both Mennonite World Conference (MWC) and Mennonite Central Committee.
As well, he said that, as a member of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, MC Canada “is discerning with other Christian communities in Canada how we can best support Christian communities in the Middle East.”
Robert J. Suderman, secretary of MWC’s Peace Commission, said that churches in the Middle East expect that churches in the West will “stand in solidarity of the suffering people and impact on the policies” of their governments towards the Middle East.
“This agenda is critically important,” Suderman said, “especially with the decision by [the Canadian] government to go to war in the Middle East. I trust we can all find ways of some compelling advocacy on this issue.”
--Posted Nov. 19, 2014