After a month of deadly conflict that resulted in an August 14 ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries, reflects on the church's peace-making obligations and urges Episcopalians to contact the United States Administration "with a very simple and clear message that we've got to get back to negotiations; that there's no solution to this conflict that is going to come through war or violence of any kind."
A video stream of Grieves' message is available here
The full text follows:
What has to be recognized in the conflict right now is that there is no military solution to the problem between Lebanon and Israel, between the Palestinians and Israel, between all of the various parties to this conflict. The solution is going to come in making peace between people and I think that's the role that the church is concerned about -- that is what we want to see -- and we think that's what the Gospel calls us to attempt to influence as much as we can: to bring people together to find a way to reconcile the issue.
We've been despondent about the increase in violence, but perhaps out of that people will see that this is not working, that this is not helping. There is so much suffering. So many people are being killed and displaced. There is so much pain and suffering on both sides that perhaps out of this people will say: alright; enough of this; let's try another way. That's what we're hoping.
The role of the church is always to look at what its peace-making obligations are and we are trying very hard to influence our own government and I think that our primary responsibility as churches in the United States is to see what is the role of the United States government in this conflict, and sadly we haven't seen the kind of leadership that we think is necessary.
We're hopeful now that with the ceasefire having been negotiated that perhaps at last our government is beginning to be more proactive towards peace, but this is a first step and we hope that our government is going to ratchet up its involvement in diplomacy, by attempting to bring friend and foe alike together and to pursue diplomatic solutions. I think that is the role of the church to try and press for that kind of involvement.
Presiding Bishop [Frank Griswold] and Bishop Hanson of the [Evangelical] Lutheran Church [of America] have made statements together. Other religious denominational leaders have joined in other statements that have been made with Bishop Griswold. Addressing both what is happening in Gaza and in Lebanon, because the crisis in Gaza continues to go on [and] we need to continue to be active on all sides where there is suffering at the moment. So, we're hopeful that perhaps people will tire now of the violence and weary of that and turn towards each other and take a long hard look at what's going on, and realize that the only future is through a negotiated peace.
We are urging Episcopalians in the pew to be in contact with the Administration, to make their voice heard in Washington ... with a very simple and clear message that we've got to get back to negotiations; that there's no solution to this conflict that is going to come through war or violence of any kind. So, that's a message that we've been asking people to respond to. They have been doing so. We wish the media would report on the things we have been saying and doing in public, but at least we are encouraged that Episcopalians in the pews are making contact with our government, and that's a sign of hope.