Letter to Our Presbyterian Brothers and Sisters in Christ

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.

We come to this work hoping that we have brought Reformed theology, historical Presbyterian positions, and the present realities together in a way that gives honor and glory to Christ. This work is for his sake, and is intended to strengthen the conversation within the family. And we have been grateful to so many of you who have prayed for us and our ministry in this endeavor.

The Moderators of the 216th, 217th, and 218th General Assemblies (2004, 2006, and 2008) appointed us to “prepare a comprehensive study, with recommendations, that is focused on Israel/Palestine within the complex context of the Middle East” (Minutes, 2008, Part I, p. 1226) and to report back to the 219th General Assembly (2010).

There is much in our work that commends you to engagement with the issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the context of the broader Middle East. Above all, we want you to share our alarm at the continuing decline of the Christian community in the region. Through our work as a committee, we have had the gift of visiting with our partner churches and organizations. And we have grown in our appreciation for what the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has done through the centuries to encourage, nurture, and strengthen these ancient communities who are our spiritual forebears. The time is critical, however, to continue that strong tradition for the sake of the gospel in the region of its birth.

There is much more in our report, however. And this work has been done with careful research, deliberation, and prayer. We hope that it will invite you in, that it may be an entry for your own study of the Middle East. And in our recommendations, we have offered tools that we think will assist us all in this endeavor. To the best of our ability, we have striven to bring a balance between the pastoral, priestly, and prophetic roles of our church’s calling.

We are also aware that our recommendations have a much wider audience beyond the membership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who will be scrutinizing our work and ready to interpret it for their own means. Because of this, we have written other introductory letters that have a focus toward those constituencies. We are aware that such constituencies are far more diverse than any one letter could summarize. Even so, we hope that you will assist us by sharing these letters with those in your community to whom they are addressed. Our primary concern is that, no matter what the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) might say about the situation in the Middle East, we remain committed to a common cause toward justice and security for both sides, and breaking down dividing walls, even when we do not see eye-to-eye on matters of policy and practice.

May we continue to work together for the sake of all of God’s children.