(PNS) The Rev. Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), returned early last week from a trip to Syria with a delegation from the church’s Compassion Peace and Justice ministries.
Following the chemical weapons attack in Idlib and the retaliatory airstrikes by the United States military, she issued a prayer for the people of Syria and the world. Mourning the deaths of those affected, noting the closeness of the events to Holy Week and Easter for Christians, she prayed in part, “that the communities of nations will practice wisdom and restraint in this vulnerable and broken part of [God’s] creation.”
“Please join me praying for God’s children in Syria and consider further advocacy in their names,” she closed.
Saying the recent escalation of violence is jeopardizing the progress of regional peace agreements in Syria, the Rev. Elmarie Parker, PC(USA) regional liaison for Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, advised continued support for diplomacy.
“We must urge diplomatic solutions and a drawdown of weapons, fighters and ‘more robust’ military response,” she said. “We must stay focused on taking away land and control from radicalized Islamists, addressing the concerns of those who are vulnerable to becoming radicalized, and to working for reconciliation and the healing of a shredded social fabric.”
Noting today that Palm Sunday services were held in Homs, Aleppo and Damascus—as well as in Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt—she said, “I do know that the work of the church continues in the midst of all of this.”
“Light has and will have the final word… Thanks be to God,” she said.
The Co-Moderator’s letter and prayer are below.
Dear Friends in Christ,
On the cusp of Holy Week, we find ourselves turning to our sisters and brothers in Syria. I just returned Tuesday from visiting our ministry partners in Lebanon and Syria with a delegation from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance led by Laurie Kraus. Our partners there urgently need our prayers and advocacy.
This week, the people of Syria have experienced renewed harm from the alleged used of chemical weapons in the province of Idlib and the U.S. airstrikes on military bases. As the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirmed, “We place our faith, hope, and trust in God alone. We renounce violence as a means to further selfish national interests, to procure wealth, or to dominate others. We will practice boldly the things that make for peace and look for the day when ‘they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore’”
In this season of Lent, as we anticipate the suffering, death and coming resurrection of our Savior, we remember too that suffering and death continue today, especially in Syria.
God of hope and peace, we pray for your healing of our world. We mourn for the children, women and men who have been killed by today’s swords and spears. We give thanks for those who seek to heal rather than harm. We pray for peace that seems so far away, yet that through you, we know is possible. We pray that the communities of nations will practice wisdom and restraint in this vulnerable and broken part of your creation. May we be part of a resurrection to life and peace in Syria and embrace a future where no one will learn war anymore. Amen.
Please join me praying for God’s children in Syria and consider further advocacy in their names.
Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly