Mission Statement: National Council of Churches USA Delegation to the Middle East
The NCC, a community of 36 US-based communions, founded in 1950, is above all a demonstration of the Christian quest for unity. The NCC has a long commitment to peace with justice. In recent years, this has led the members of the Council among other things to support the right of Palestinian people to self-determination, to affirm the right of Israel to exist with security, and to oppose the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003.
The Council has actively promoted interfaith dialogue as a means to peace, while also affirming the Christian presence in the Middle East, and the contribution of Middle East Christians to peacemaking in this volatile region. The Council affirms its concern for Christians, Jews and Muslims, and its desire to live peacefully as neighbors in the world that God has created.
There are other churches in the United States that support U.S. policy in Iraq, interpret Scripture to the benefit of one side in the conflict in Israel / Palestine and to the detriment of the other side; minimize the importance of interfaith relations, and even ignore the longstanding Christian presence in the region. This delegation presents an alternative perspective.
The NCC, believing that every moment is the moment for the peace of God, has chosen to visit the Middle East now because new political developments in the region seem to suggest new possibilities for peacemaking. The delegation has come to ask:
- Do the people of the Middle East see such an opportunity for peace?
- What can people of faith, from all religious communities, do together to nurture this opportunity for peace?
- What can the NCC do to assist our brothers and sisters here in our common mission to work for peace?
The member churches of the NCC, as part of the one body of Christ, pray for sisters and brothers who suffer violence in Lebanon, Egypt and Israel / Palestine. As the delegation has seen, the dwindling number of Christians in the region is directly related to the conflict in the Holy Land. In addition to prayers, it is of great importance to be present with one another. In this sense, the visit is a living letter of solidarity at a time of fragile promise.