Praying for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
Originally shared in the Coconut Wireless, October 18, 2023
Prayer for Israel and Palestine David K. Popham, Conference Minister
The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem invited Christians to observe Tuesday, October 17, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel. Unfortunately, we received the notice too late to distribute to the wider Conference. However, some of the office staff were able to join with the General Minister and Presidents of both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Global Ministries in a time of information sharing and prayer. We remain committed to a peace with justice that guarantees security and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians. We condemn both the culpability of Hamas for its raid on civilians and any military action of Israel which indiscriminately targets civilians along with Hamas members. Most of all we pray for a peaceful and diplomatic solution which removes the sacrifice of civilians from the altar of political agendas.
Let us join with Rabbi Sheila Weinberg of the Jewish Community of Amherst, Amherst, MA:
Two peoples, one land,
Three faiths, one root,
One earth, one mother,
One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny,
One broken heart,
We pray to You:
Grant us a vision of unity,
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of All the Worlds,
Source of All Amazing Differences
Help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly toward each other,
Toward peace. Amen.
May it be so.
Our hearts are broken as we continue to receive news reports of the devastating and escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip. We must condemn all acts of violence against innocent civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian. We renew our call to pray for peace with justice, a peace that brings security and hope to both Israelis and Palestinians.
The underlying issues that have led up to this recent crisis are long-standing, complex, and nuanced and must be addressed diplomatically before any real peace with justice can be achieved.
Below are a number of resources to provide background information, steps for action, and prayers:
Resources from UCC's Palestine-Israel Network (Shared through the Council of Conference Ministers)
A PRAYER FOR PEACE IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE By Rose Marie Berger via Sojourners
A Prayer for this Moment, October 2023 By Rabbi Alissa Wise via Jewish Voice for Peace
“What Shall We Say?”: Reflections for Pastors on the Violence In Palestine and Israel By the Rev. John Thomas, UCC PIN Steering Committee Intended to be a resource for clergy who are wondering how to address or talk about the crisis and recent events in Gaza and Israel.
Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister of the Minnesota Conference and member of the UCC PIN Steering Committee shares, "I was on a webinar this morning with long-time friend and UCC partner Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, and another Palestinian faculty member at the Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem (and a satellite campus in Gaza). Their stories of the impact of this war, less than a week long, were devastating. I was literally in tears at the end of the webinar. I ask of you what they asked of us in the webinar: pray for justice and peace. Pray for both Israelis and Palestinians. Advocate for an end to this war and the targeting of civilians. Remember that Palestinians are not "barbarians" as our media are now so often characterizing them, not children of a lesser God, but human beings made in God's image as are Israelis. Let peace with justice come."
UCC and Disciples Join Ecumenical Community in Letter to Congress on Crisis in Israel/Palestine
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Releases New Statement
Map of Gaza Strip from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Global Ministries webpage: The Crisis in Israel/Palestine
UCC Action Alert: Call for an End to the Violence
Commentary: Pastor Experienced "Radical Hospitality" Fleeing West Bank when Violence Broke Out
National Council of Churches Statement on Israel and Palestine
Church World Service Issues Statement, Calls for End to Violence
Related: Synod delegates approve resolution decrying oppression of Palestinian people (UCC News)