19 October 2023
President and Vice-President update on the situation in the Middle East
As deaths and injuries of civilians continue to rise in the Israel-Hamas conflict, we are heartbroken to see the devastation this is having on so many people living in the region. We believe in a God who weeps, and, alongside the Holy Spirit our Comforter, our hearts are breaking with all those whose loved ones have had their lives brutally cut short, for the terror felt by Israeli families, and the unimaginable wait that many face for news of the people being held hostage. We watch in horror as Gazan civilians flee for their lives, unable to leave Gaza and trapped in the midst of a violent and unpredictable conflict.
The situation may feel overwhelming; so much information, so much misinformation and so much misery. Where is our hope? Watching and reading news reports can leave us confused and feeling helpless. What can we do? As members of the Methodist Church we have witnessed the plight of the Palestinian people’s oppression for many years and have sought to encourage those on all sides who are working for lasting peace with justice in the region.
Now we pray for all those people and groups we have met: Daoud Nasser from the Tent of Nations and the recipient of the World Methodist Peace Prize in 2018; Rabbi Nava Hefetz from Rabbis for Human Rights, the Wi’am Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Bethlehem; the staff of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel, and the countless people and families in Gaza and the West Bank who we, as a Church, have supported over the years. We uphold them, praying for their safety, asking for God’s protection and comfort. And we pray for those who have the power to effect change – that they will use this privilege wisely and well to put a swift end to this violence and aggression. We undertake to continue to pray that the beautiful peace of the Prince of Peace will manifest in our world, and we pledge ourselves once again to respond to the Gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out this discipleship in our worship and mission.
We call on the UK Government to do all it can to encourage dialogue between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and states in the wider region. We urge our Government to use its influence to end the siege of Gaza that is depriving its population of water and food, and to call on all parties to abide by international humanitarian law.
As well as praying, we ask you to consider doing the following:
- Supporting Christian Aid’s appeal and/or signing a petition calling on the UK Government to establish safe routes out of Gaza for people left homeless or caught up in the violence
- Find out more about the situation: Resources for studying theological issues relating to Israel-Palestine
- Write to your MP to ask them to act to protect civilians in Gaza and to support a lasting peace
- Be generous to those who you may not agree with, and try to find common ground. Pray for those people and, if appropriate, pray together. Be aware of those in your church or community who are particularly impacted by this situation, whether they have a connection with Israel or Palestine or because this is a painful and traumatic reminder of their own experiences of conflict. And please pray for those in leadership who are being called to offer support to the people who are impacted by the ongoing situation.
The Revd Gill Newton, President of the Methodist Conference
Deacon Kerry Scarlett, Vice President of the Methodist Conference