Letter to Our American Brothers and Sisters in the Ecumenical Community

The Middle East Study Committee Report begins with eight letters addressed to different communities. The PCUSA site has them posted, but for some reason, is currently down. I'll post all eight of them one by one. Please check back to www.pcusa.org/middleeastpeace for a fuller update. I expect the site should be back up and running soon. For many years, we have partnered with you through the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches in matters of common concern in the Middle East. It is our hope that we can continue to do so. We are aware that our polities and structures are different. And while we do not always agree on details, we know that we share a common passion for the region and for the justice with peace.

Our practice has been to focus on those things that unite us; this not only makes sense practically, but also theologically. Now, with a regional situation that is so critical, and with a rapidly disintegrating hope for a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine, we think the time has come for us to study more closely those places where we might have different approaches so that we might challenge and encourage one another and grow in our unity for the sake of Christ our Lord. We also know, within your own polities, you continue to study the issues and make recommendations as well. There are subtle differences between our conclusions. And unfortunately, where we have disagreed on matters of practice and policy, this has become an opportunity for those who do not share our concern for all parties in the region to divide us and even to manipulate one denomination’s policy to criticize another denomination’s approach. Let us be of one voice.

In addition to what we in the United States have to say, there are the voices of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East. In our regional travels, we have been encouraged by their steadfastness, distressed by their challenges, and moved by their diversity, but also their unity. As their ecumenical voices have spoken, from the Amman Call to the Kairos Palestine document, the Middle Eastern Church has spoken clearly and directly to us. We ignore their voice at our own peril. Let us do all we can to show our oneness with them in Christ.

We know that you have been and continue to be engaged in the Middle East. Our hope is that our work will both encourage and challenge you and your members to deepen that engagement.