A Prayerful Response to the Violence in Israel and Palestine
Fourth Presbyterian Church has a long tradition of being an interfaith partner and having an interest in global affairs as part of our theological commitment to participate in God’s mission toward a more peaceful, just, and flourishing world. Our perspective as a congregation on the subject of Israel and Palestine, and the present tragedy of violence and war between Israel and Hamas, is shaped by these commitments and our relationships to partner institutions and leaders, including Christians in the ecumenical community and Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims in the Holy Land, as well as with Jewish and Muslim communities in the US and Chicago with ties to the region and its peoples.
We are connected to and care about people who are suffering and dying in Israel and Palestine, and their families, friends, and communities here in Chicago. We know through these relationships that what occurs across the seas reverberates in our own backyard. We grieve the death of six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in a gruesome act of Islamophobia just outside Chicago. We grieve for Judith and Natalie Raanan who were taken as hostages by Hamas and yet are grateful for their release.
As the Session of Fourth Presbyterian Church, we know the roots of the current conflict are complex, and we ourselves have diverse views on the policies that might bring peace, security, and justice. But we do know that we can as a community make some commitments to live as faithfully as we can in this painful time. We invite you to join us in praying, learning, and connecting.
We know the power of prayer as a faith community. Prayer can prepare our minds and hearts and hands to think and live in ways that safeguard the well-being and dignity of our neighbors near and far.
Therefore, we commit to engage in a season of prayer for Israel and Palestine and for our local and denominational partners and for friends and neighbors with ties to this Holy Land of Israel and Palestine.
In doing so, we join ourselves with many who seek peace and justice in the midst of this current war and the broader conflict from which it stems.
We commit to deepen our understanding of the history and current realities of the broader conflict in the region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This includes
We commit to our ongoing relationships here in Chicago with Muslims and Jews and specifically with the multiple communities impacted by the war and by the struggle for sovereignty and peaceful coexistence in Israel, Palestine, and MENA.
Our interfaith relationships are a vital expression of our faith. We are called to recognize, affirm, and celebrate the image of God in all people, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. This becomes much more difficult when global and political violence, such as we are facing now, reverberates across the seas and tears at our communities here in Chicago. Especially at this time, when local communities are experiencing trauma and grief, we affirm our faith in God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, and we commit to the hard and transformative work of enacted love.
Affirmed by the Session of Fourth Presbyterian Church on November 17, 2023