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Lighting a Candle in the Darkness...

   
 

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April 19, 2002

To the Congregations of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA,

As the violence in the Middle East reaches its most dangerous and destructive level of recent decades, we, members of a church believing in Christ's way of peace, are called to action. What can we do? MCC West Bank service workers and Christian Peacemaker Team members are living in Israel/Palestine and sending daily reports. The MCC Washington and Ottawa offices are closely monitoring the situation and join us in offering these suggestions. We urge you as individuals, and especially as congregations, to respond immediately. Here are five suggestions for us as Christians:

  • Pray
  • Worship Together
  • Advocate
  • Get informed
  • Contribute money and volunteer your time

(1) Pray

We are reassured that the Spirit brings our wordless concerns to God. In our
confusion and uncertainty, we can look at peoples’ faces in the news, or at
maps of Israel and Palestine, and ask God to comfort, to hold, to speak to
these people.

Actions

  • Light a candle to keep beside you at work. Each time you see the candle,
    be reminded again to hold these people, innocent victims of violence and its
    perpetrators, in prayer.
  • Subscribe to the MennoLink Peace.news list for frequent prayer requests
    from Alain Epp Weaver of MCC West Bank. These are concrete, current requests
    that put needs and persons together with the news. To subscribe see
    www.MennoLink.org
  • See the Mennonite Central Committee web site page on the Middle East crisis for prayers.
  • Subscribe to MC Canada’s Witness Prayer Net to receive up-to-date reports and prayer requests from workers in this region.

(2) Worship Together

Worship is where we recognize the sovereignty of God in our lives, above
all other loyalties. To bring our concerns to worship recognizes God’s place
in our lives and the connection between God and all aspects of our lives and
world.

Actions:

  • Create a worship centre in your congregation where people can gather to
    pray for the people of Israel/Palestine and for the leaders who are making
    life and death decisions. Include photographs, maps, recent writings of MCC
    West Bank and CPT Hebron, candles, and crafts from Ten Thousand Villages
    made in Israel/Palestine.
  • Write and share worship resources with your congregation as a way to bring
    your concerns to God. If you create materials you are willing to share,
    please send them to SusanML@MennoniteUSA.org

(3) Advocate

As a missional people aligned with God's purposes in the world, our concern
for God's healing and God's justice calls us to speak on behalf of others.
Because of what we are for--what God is for--we speak out when war and violence
cycle to greater levels. God calls all people and all things to
reconciliation under God's purposes of healing, hope, and restoration. We
choose to join God in that call.

Actions:

  • Please see this web page about advocacy
  • Suggestions below outline points to guide you in writing letters to your
    government. Faxes are preferable to e-mail messages, as they are more likely
    to be read. Make sure to include your complete mailing address.

Contact information

CANADA

  • Prime Minister’s Office Fax: 613-941-6900 e-mail PM@pm.gc.ca
  • Foreign Minister’s Office Fax: 613-996-3443 e-mail Graham.B@parl.gc.ca
  • your own Member of Parliament e-mail Lastname.Firstinitial@parl.gc.ca

UNITED STATES

  • President George W. Bush Fax: 202-456-2461 e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov
  • Your senator or representative: See advocacy web page (above) or call the
    Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121

General points:

  • Encourage your government to urge all parties to enter immediate
    negotiations, lay down their weapons, and end the violence.
  • Urge your government to encourage the Palestinian authority to exercise
    its influence to stop suicide bombings that can’t achieve the peace desired
    by all.
  • Urge your government to encourage the Israeli government to withdraw its
    military forces from Palestinian communities and allow the people to bury
    their dead, care for their wounded, feed their families, and resume their
    lives.
  • Urge all parties to address not just the symptoms but the roots of the
    current violence: namely, the illegal Israeli occupation of lands taken in
    the 1967 war, the settlements built on them, and the plight of Palestinian
    refugees dating to 1948.
  • Other positive steps: insist that Israel release Arafat and not re-occupy
    Gaza and the West Bank; support the introduction of unarmed international
    monitors; give more visibility to the Arab proposal adopted in Beirut;
    support a more significant role for the U.N. in moving toward the vision
    outlined in the Arab proposal.
  • Encourage governments to build healthy relationships between communities
    at home and around the world.

Points for Canadians:

  • Thank the Canadian government for its recent statements in support of ending the violence in the Middle East, withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories, and condemnation of the military invasion of Palestinian territories these past weeks.
  • Urge the Canadian government to exercise its influence to encourage the
    Bush Administration to bring both parties to negotiation and to halt the
    violence.
  • Urge the Canadian government to continue to act as a strong partner within
    the United Nations and to act as an international partner and presence to
    bring stability to this volatile situation.
  • Name the occupation of Palestinian territories as illegal under the Fourth
    Geneva Convention and in accordance with relevant UN Security Council
    resolution 242 & 338, which call on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied
    territories in exchange for peace.
  • Urge that Canada continue to be an international presence for
    peace-building.

Points for U. S. citizens:

  • Focus on how the U.S. role is contributing to the spiraling cycle of
    violence. The one-sided U.S. approach contributes to the Palestinian sense
    of injustice and hopelessness, and is emboldening Israel's military
    response.
  • Urge President Bush to take an "even-handed" approach in addressing this
    issue. His repeated endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's inflammatory
    statements and military responses, while denouncing President Arafat and
    demanding that he do more, does not create an environment for constructive
    negotiations.
  • Thank President Bush for sending Colin Powell to the region for meetings
    with Arafat and Sharon.

(4) Get informed

We must seek information from our brothers and sisters living in Israel and
Palestine and learn about their religions and worldviews to better understand current events.

Actions:

  • Seek information from these web sites we trust (MC Canada works together with many of these organizations):
  • Gather a group who seeks to learn more and share information.
  • Subscribe to MC Canada’s Witness Prayer Net to receive up-to-date reports and prayer requests from workers in this region.

(5) Contribute time and money

Both Mennonite Central Committee and Christian Peacemaker Teams have people
living and working for peace in Israel/Palestine and accept contributions. Mennonite Central Committee is providing food. Christian Peacemaker Teams sent an experienced emergency delegation and needs extra funds to cover expenses.

Actions:

  • Send contributions to
    Christian Peacemaker Teams
    c/o Mennonite Church Canada
    600 Shaftesbury Blvd.
    Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
    R3P 0M4
    and/or
    Mennonite Central Committee Canada
    134 Plaza Drive
    Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
    R3T 5K9
  • Set aside a specific daily time to pray, educate yourself, and advocate.

Light a candle in the darkness, beseeching the Prince of Peace,

Susan Mark Landis, Peace Advocate, Mennonite Church USA Executive Board
Leo Hartshorn, Minister of Peace and Justice, Mennonite Mission Network
Marilyn Houser Hamm, Interim Director for Peace and Justice, Mennonite
Church Canada