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Holy Land: A call to action from the Presiding Bishop

4/12/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has issued a Call to Action in response to the "impending humanitarian tragedy [which is] unfolding ... throughout the Holy Land," in which he asks members of the Episcopal Church "for prayers in every congregation, praying for peace and reconciliation of this ongoing and devastating conflict," and urges giving through the traditional Good Friday Offering and Episcopal Relief and Development "so that we may do our small part in alleviating this unfolding humanitarian crisis."

The full text of Griswold's statement follows:

During this Holy Week the worldwide Christian community commemorates the significance of the events of Christ's passion, and we are made aware yet again of Christ's sacrificial suffering on Good Friday in order to draw all humanity into God's mighty act of salvation. This year, on this Good Friday, I am particularly mindful that our focus turns to Jerusalem where Jesus becomes the fulfillment of God's promises to us.

As I read and watch news accounts of the deteriorating political situation unfolding in the City of Peace and throughout the Holy Land, I am fearful that an impending humanitarian tragedy is also unfolding. Regardless of one's political views, we are all called to respond to human suffering, and to take all necessary measures to alleviate and prevent any tragedy wherever possible.

I direct a plea to both the relevant government bodies of the world and to our Church membership. To the governments, particularly the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, I ask that all necessary aid be made available through non-government, and where possible, through government structures in such sufficient measure that all hospitals, schools and food supplies be adequately supported. I would say further that humanitarian aid should include support of both economic development and peacemaking efforts. A breakdown of the infrastructure of Palestinian society at this moment can only lead to chaos, lawlessness and deep suffering. Unilateral action does not lead to reconciliation. I pray that the leaders of the Israelis and the Palestinians, including Hamas, which now is called to responsible governance, will temper politics with compassion and turn from actions that do harm to policies that place the welfare of the human community above partisan concerns and grievances.

I ask members of the Episcopal Church for prayers in every congregation, praying for peace and reconciliation of this ongoing and devastating conflict. I also remind you not only of the traditional Good Friday Offering but also to consider additional giving through Episcopal Relief and Development so that we may do our small part in alleviating this unfolding humanitarian crisis. May we do this mindful that Christ suffered so that there might be no more suffering.

My prayers are with the Palestinian and Israeli people and their governments, with the President of the United States, the leaders of the world, knowing that we are called always to the work of reconciliation and peace.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
April 12, 2006

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For 84 years, the Good Friday Offering has been the primary and ongoing effort throughout the Episcopal Church in support of the institutions within the four dioceses of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. For information about how to donate to the Good Friday Offering, visit http://www.episcopalchurch.org/1649_1669_ENG_HTM.htm.

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is responding to escalating violence in Palestine and Israel after the election of Hamas. ERD will provide emergency supplies such as food, water and medicine to vulnerable people cut off from food aid. To make a contribution, please donate to the Middle East Crisis Fund at www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development, designated for Middle East Crisis, P.O. Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101.