Global Ministries Statement on Violence in Israel and Gaza

November 20, 2012

Consistent with the resolutions of the United Methodist General Conference and with the World Methodist Council resolution on Israel and Palestine, The General Board of Global Ministries condemns the use of violence in the region and asks for prayers for a just peace in the Holy Land. In the past week, more than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed, as fighting escalated in Gaza. Children and other civilians are among the casualties.

The head of Global Ministries, Thomas Kemper, was in the Holy Land last month at the opening of the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem. Urging compromise, Kemper says that “Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. Likewise, Israel must stop building illegal settlements in Palestinian territory. Sending rockets into Israel is as unacceptable as bombing Gaza.”

Addressing the most recent events, Kemper continues: “This is another example that violence only begets more violence and will not lead to a lasting peace. When I was in Israel and Palestine, I saw for myself that maintaining the status quo is not a solution. I am grateful for our partners and missionaries who are supporting peace-building efforts. They provide valuable perspectives of the situation from the ground.”

United Methodists Partners and Missionaries

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), of The General Board of Global Ministries, is in touch with partners in Israel and Palestine to directly respond to the crisis. In addition, other mission partners have ongoing programs that are supported by The United Methodist Church.

According to UMCOR partner Grassroots International, the number of Gazans living in poverty tripled between 2007 and 2010. Nearly 80 percent of families in Gaza rely on international aid. To support sustainable food security in Gaza, UMCOR has issued a grant for $20,000 for urban gardening and animal husbandry programs that serve poor rural women.

Another partner, the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees — Middle East Council of Churches, serves poor families that have been uprooted by years of conflict. It is preparing its health clinics to serve the wounded in Gaza City. Global Ministries’ directors approved a $20,000 grant last month to support the health clinics, community development, and vocational training programs in impoverished Palestinian refugee communities.

Currently, Global Ministries has five mission staff serving in the Holy Land. Janet Lahr Lewis and Kristen Brown are heading the new Methodist Liaison Office. Alex Awad is a Palestinian Christian who, along with his wife, Brenda, faithfully serves Bethlehem Bible College. John Daniel Gore is a young adult mission intern working with WI’AM Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center.

Global Ministries is in regular communication with them. Although the fighting is concentrated in Gaza, tension is building throughout the country. Alex Awad reported that while attending a meeting in Bethlehem, he heard rockets falling on nearby settlements. As he walked to a nearby hotel for another meeting that evening, he said, “I could smell the sickening aroma of tear gas that was used by the Israelis to confront stone-throwing Palestinian youth. The battle grew more intense as I walked toward to the hotel.”

Global Ministries joins the World Methodist Council in urging “the people caught in the midst of these two warring states to reject violence, to reject fear, and instead embrace a lasting peace and tell their leaders that violence will not be carried out in their name.”

Please join The General Board of Global Ministries in prayer for all involved, that they may find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the days to come.

Your gift to Middle East Emergency Advance #601740 will provide emergency relief and humanitarian assistance in the region.