ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 29, 2007
LWF Council Calls for Cooperation with Palestinian Leaders, End to Blockade
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) called on the international community to cooperate with the new Palestinian government and to end an international economic blockade. The council asked LWF members to pray on Thursday of Holy Week (April 5) for Christians in the Middle East.
The council also "affirmed that the core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which, if not solved, is a threat to peace not only in the Middle East but throughout the world."
The LWF governing body stated its position while approving recommendations from its Program Committee for International Affairs and Human Rights at the conclusion of the council's March 20-27 meeting in Lund, Sweden. The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, LWF president and presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, chaired the council meeting.
The meeting coincided with events to mark the 60th anniversary of the LWF in the city where it was established in 1947. The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition, with 140 member churches in 78 countries throughout the world, representing nearly 66.7 million Christians. It is based in Geneva.
"We welcome the fact that a Palestinian government of national unity has been established and stress the LWF Council's expectation that the new government will respect all previous agreements concerning or relevant to the search for peace in the region. We call on the international community to cooperate with the new Palestinian government and to end the international economic blockade in order to restore the health, education and welfare situation of the Palestinian people and the infrastructure of the Palestinian Territories," according to the March 26 council action.
The LWF governing body called "upon the State of Israel to comply with international humanitarian law and United Nations' resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian Territories." It called for an international conference to be convened to resolve the long-standing issues between the parties, such as the status of Jerusalem, the return of refugees, settlements, borders and water resources.
The council noted the planned ecumenical commemorations, under the leadership of the heads of the local churches in Jerusalem, in June 2007 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
"We call for actions by the international community to end the illegal occupation and for the LWF member churches to join ecumenical coalitions for that purpose, such as the World Council of Churches'-initiated international week of action to end the occupation June 3-9, 2007."
"We welcome the initiative to create an interfaith Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, as a sign of shared commitment to building mutual trust and understanding among the faith communities and their peoples, and to call for this Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land to work to build peace among the two nations, and that it become a reference group for Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in any future negotiations," the council action said.
The LWF Council commended to the LWF member churches "The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism" issued by the heads of churches in Jerusalem in August 2006. [http://www.holyland-lutherans.org/06%20August%20HOC%20Statement%20on%20Christian%20Zionism.doc]
"We express deep concern about the continued emigration of Christians from Palestine and the entire Middle East, and call on the LWF member churches to pray on Maundy Thursday (Thursday of Holy Week, April 5) for Christians in the Middle East and for their continued presence and ministry in the region in accordance with the call from the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC)," the council's action said.
The council reiterated the LWF's continued support to its member church -- the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land -- "in its struggle to be a witness for peace and justice in the region through its educational, ecumenical and interfaith activities."
*This report on the LWF Council meeting was supplied by Lutheran World Information, Geneva.
Information about the LWF and the LWF Council meeting in Lund, Sweden, is at http://www.lutheranworld.org/ on the Web.
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