ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 30, 2012
ELCA presiding bishop supports Syrian church leaders' call for peace
CHICAGO (ELCA) - In letters to Christian church leaders in Syria, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), offered his support of the churches' collective call for an end to violence and his prayers for the people in the region.
"In these difficult days, I will continue to pray and encourage members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to pray for you and your efforts to sustain the courage and faith of your communities," wrote Hanson. In addition to prayers for the people of Syria, the presiding bishop said he mourns the recent death of a priest there, "who died serving others."
As the violence in Syria continues, Hanson acknowledged in his letters that there are no simple answers to resolve the current situation, and therefore agrees with many Syrian church leaders on the need for dialogue instead of further fighting.
"We who are at 'the ends of the earth' cannot forget the importance of Syria for the growth of our faith or the communities of disciples keeping the faith in the land of Christianity's birth," Hanson wrote. "We affirm, with you, that the Christian communities in Syria are an essential component to the fabric of Syrian culture and history."
At the conclusion of his letter, Hanson said he will pray for the efforts of Syrian church leaders toward renewing and strengthening their relationships with Muslim neighbors, and he asked how the ELCA might assist church leaders and the people of Syria.
"We know that well-meaning actions can sometimes result in unintended negative consequences, thus we seek your guidance. In this critical time, we hope to do all we can to strengthen your callings to be ministers of reconciliation in your land," wrote Hanson.
The letters were hand-delivered to three Christian leaders in Syria Jan. 28 by His Eminence Jean Kawak, archbishop patriarchal office director, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. Bishop Kawak offered to deliver the letters after they were read aloud by an ELCA member attending a World Council of Churches meeting in Beirut.
Hanson wrote to His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in All the World; His Beatitude Ignatius IV Hazim, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Greek Orthodox Church; and His Beatitude Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of Alexandria and Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
The letters were also shared with Christian Syrian leaders in the United States.
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com