Ash Wednesday Statement on Russian Ukrainian conflict by Bishop Ivan Abrahams

Seven days after Russian troops crossed into Ukraine, we gather with ecumenical partners and all people of goodwill to remember political leaders, soldiers, and civilians caught up in the current conflict. We pray that God may “guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)

The World Methodist Council supports Pope Francis’s peace initiative to mediate the conflict between Russia and Ukraine after recent talks failed to lead to a ceasefire. We note that the Pontiff called on leaders of both countries “to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war.” 

Methodists are committed to peacebuilding and have a long tradition of solidarity with all who challenge violence and injustice.

May we read the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the gospel.

 

 

Photo Credit:  242395288 / Ukraine © Anyaivanova | Dreamstime.com

 

Ukraine: Christian World Communions condemn assault, call for peace, invite to prayer

Photo: Sunguk Kim/Unsplash

“Peace must prevail,” say four global Christian communions who will host online prayer service on Ash Wednesday

 

Four Christian World Communions are strongly condemning the advance of the Russian military into Ukraine and the assault that began on the night of 24 February 2022. They call for Russian troops to be brought back to Russia and an immediate end to the conflict. “Peace must prevail,” they insist. 

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and the World Methodist Council (WMC) are calling for prayers of peace for the people of Ukraine and the region.  

They have issued an invitation to an online prayer service on Ash Wednesday, 2 March at 17.00 CET. The service will bring together Christians from Ukraine and other parts of the world, seeking peace and an end to the ongoing conflict.  

“Jesus calls us to be messengers of hope who work for peace. As Christian churches we, therefore, call for an immediate de-escalation of this conflict, so that the lives, human rights, and dignity of people in Ukraine are protected,” said LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt. 

“This is a time for churches in Europe and globally to form a strong alliance of solidarity with people who fear the impact of war in Ukraine. This is a time to gather in prayer for people who possess the power to make decisions that will save lives and make peace possible,” said CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen. 

“As the Scriptures encourage us to turn away from evil and do good, to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11), we consider such an unprovoked attack as evil, and strive to do all we can to stand against it—while also preparing to assist those impacted by it,” said the WCRC Collegial General Secretariat (composed of Hanns Lessing, Philip Peacock, and Phil Tanis). 

“Despite what is happening in Ukraine, I still believe that the international community can make a difference as we collectively work for peace in the region,” said Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. 

In the call to prayer for the people of Ukraine and the region, the four Christian communions note the military assault threatens the lives of Ukrainians, as well as peace throughout Europe and beyond. “The crisis is urgent and requires the attention and solidarity of the global Christian community.” 

The LWF brings together 148 Lutheran churches representing over 77 million Christians across the globe. The WCRC is comprised of more than 230 Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting, and Waldensian member churches representing 100 million Christians. The Conference of European Churches is a fellowship of 114 churches from Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican traditions from across Europe. The WMC encompasses 80-member Methodist, Wesleyan, and Uniting churches on six continents with more than 80 million members.

World Methodist Council Statement on Ukraine/Russia

The World Methodist Council (WMC) views with deep concern reports of mounting tension on the borders of Ukraine and Russia, including the threat of a buildup of armed forces on both sides. Many political commentators consider the recent events “a new Cold War” and “a threat to global peace.”

The Council calls on ‘the people called Methodists,” and those who respect human life, rights, and dignity to pursue a “just peace” for all in the war threatened region. 

The Council recognizes the region’s long and complex history but is concerned only suffering and destruction would result from armed conflict. 

The Council is committed to promoting peace, reconciliation, and justice. It believes that intentional diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiations are the only paths to peace. It encourages all parties to de-escalate this dangerous situation. 

The Council encourages prayer for the people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It especially remembers Bishop Eduard Khegay of the Eurasia Central Conference of The United Methodist Church and all local and regional church leaders as they minister against a backdrop of an armed standoff. 

While the Council is cognizant that Methodists and other Christians are on each side of this potential conflict, it prays that they may all be peacemakers.

WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL STATEMENT ON NASSAR FAMILY

The World Methodist Council (WMC) condemns the recent attack on the Nassar family by 15 masked men from Nahaleen, an Arab village. Last week, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) and their staff were violently assaulted by settlers while accompanying Palestinian farmers planting “trees for peace” near Burin, east of Nablus in the West Bank.

On Friday, 28 January, the Nassar Family recipients of the World Methodist Peace Award for their work with the globally recognized Tent of Nations project hosted on their 100-acre farm were victims of an attack. The Nassar brothers Daud and Daher required medical attention at the local hospital and are recuperating at home.

The WMC condemns all acts of violence and stands in solidarity with the Nassar family and all Palestinians who experience systemic violence, discrimination, and land expropriation.

For the past 70 years, the WMC has issued declarations and resolutions to bring about peace in this troubled region. We reaffirm our commitment to work with all parties to secure a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

Issued by the WMC General Secretary,

Ivan Abrahams

WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL STATEMENT ON VOLCANIC ERUPTION NEAR KINGDOM OF TONGA

The World Methodist Council (WMC), a body representing more than 80 million people called Methodist in 134 countries, pray with the WCC, other people of faith and no-faith, to respond to the needs of the people of Tonga and its surrounding islands as they seek to recover from the devastation and disaster of the tsunami and effects of the eruption of an underwater volcano, the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai. On 15th January 2022, the volcano erupted, spewing forth an ash plume almost 20km high. The eruption was the largest Tonga and the world has faced in 30 years, creating tsunami alerts as far as Australia and New Zealand.

The WMC affirms the World Council of Church’s assurance that our solidarity and prayers will be ongoing as the Kingdom of Tonga seeks to cope with the aftermath of the tsunami. The WMC affirms reports that the government of the Kingdom of Tonga has reacted swiftly, deploying a naval vessel to the Ha’api islands carrying the World Health Organization (WHO) trained Tonga Emergency Medical Assistance Team (TEMAT) to help treat any people who may have been injured. An advisory has been issued to the Tongan public to remain indoors, use masks if going out, and drink bottled water to avoid the consequences of the ash fall.

The WMC General Secretary, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, recognizes that the United Nations has been working to support the Tonga government’s response since the eruption occurred. “We give thanks that WHO’s Country Liaison Officer for Tonga, Dr. Yutaro Setoya, played a critical role in channeling communication between UN agencies and the Tongan government, and between the UN and their staff in Tonga,” said Abrahams. With international phone lines and internet connectivity downed, Dr. Setoya’s satellite phone was one of the few ways to get information into and out of the country. Setoya reported that around 100 houses had been damaged and 50 destroyed just on the main island of Tongatapu. Two deaths have been reported to date.

The WMC notes that the UN’s emergency response is coordinated via the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT), which brings together United Nations agencies, the Red Cross movement, and international non-governmental organizations to organize in-country and remote support to the Tongan government’s response efforts. The PHT’s initial focus is on supporting the re-establishment of communications, finding ways to bring in relief supplies, and providing technical advice on a range of issues, such as ensuring the safety of ash-affected drinking water.  While we remain thankful that all health facilities on Tongatapu are fully functioning and clean-up efforts have been initiated, we await information on the degree of destruction still being gathered. The Ha’apai and Vava’u island groups, for example, remain out of contact with the capital. There are particular concerns about the smaller and low-lying islands of Mango and Fonoi in the Ha’apai group.

GLOBAL PRAYER IN A TIME OF THE KINGDOM OF TONGA IN THE FACE OF VOLCANIC ERUPTION.

God of goodness and love, we have been taught to rely on you for our every provision in times of need: have mercy on all who are faced with fear, terror, and distress in this time of the volcanic eruption, flood, and ash poisoning in the Kingdom of Tonga.

We thank you for the work and help of the World Health Organization, organized by the United Nations Organizations and nations that have already given speedy service and assistance. Through its establishment of international relationships, we pray that global justice may be established, fear and suspicion be removed, and lasting peace may be ensured.

We pray through him who came to show humanity the ways of justice, peace and kindness, even our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. And let our cries come unto You.

Amen

Statement on Voting Rights

The College of Bishops

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

 January 8, 2022

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was hailed as a landmark piece of federal legislation in this country which sought to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. As landmark as that act was considered to have been, it has endured many reauthorizations, renewals, extensions, and amendments during its history. And here we are in 2022 and despite this act and its intent, the voting rights of persons, especially those of black and brown hue, is once again up for debate and vote. We are saddened and disappointed at both the need for such legislation as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act in 2022 and the fact that their passage is dependent upon whichever way the winds of partisan politics blow. We believe it is important that these two significant pieces of voting rights legislation become law in this forthcoming session of Congress. To this end, we call upon President Joe Biden and senators of goodwill to do all in their power to move these crucial pieces of legislation to vote during the early days of the next session of Congress. The voting rights of many of this nation’s minority citizens are at risk the longer these pieces of legislation remain stalled in the United States Senate.  

           Therefore, we the members of the College of Bishops of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church urge all members of our Zion to do all in your power to push for the passage of these legislations. In addition, we are encouraged by the various efforts we are seeing in this regard. We are pleased to stand in solidarity with faith leaders, media personalities, college students, and others who have committed themselves to engage in a hunger strike as an effort to push lawmakers to pass federal legislation to protect the vote. We encourage members of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, who feel called to this form of social activism to consider joining the hunger strike efforts of others. In addition, whatever form of social activism one feels called to engage in, we encourage you to do so in efforts to push lawmakers to pass these legislations designed to protect the sacred right to vote by all citizens of this nation.

           In addition, as we embark upon the 2022 observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us use this day to recommit ourselves to doing whatever we can to raise the awareness of the need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Bill and the Freedom to Vote Act in this forthcoming Congress. We recommend the following actions to the members of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church:

a.    Pray for those who have committed themselves to engage in a hunger strike and other forms of social activism in support of the passage of these legislations.

b.    Send an email or some form of a message to members of your legislative delegations encouraging them to bring these bills to the floor of the Congress and for its passage in this Congress.

c.     Post on social media that as a member of the CME Church, you stand in support of the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Bill and the Freedom to Vote Act in this January 2022 session of Congress.

d.    Participate to the extent that you are able in public forms of activism in support of the passage of this legislation.

e.    Make plans now to participate in the 2022 Mid-Term Elections. This is not an option, it is essential that we vote in these elections.  

Thank you very much for your support and activism, with best wishes for the passage of this legislation, we the undersigned members of the College of Bishops remain

Sincerely,

Lawrence L. Reddick, Senior Bishop

Henry M. Williamson, Sr.

Thomas L. Brown, Sr.

Kenneth W. Carter

James B. Walker, Chair

Sylvester Williams, Sr.

Teresa Jefferson-Snorton

Godwin T. Umoette

Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr.

C. James King, Jr.

Paul A. G. Stewart, Sr.

Othal H. Lakey

Marshall Gilmore

 

Statement on Voting Rights by the College of Bishops – Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (thecmechurch.org)

The World Methodist Council mourns the loss of Archbishop Tutu

With great sadness, the Officers and members of the World Methodist Council received the news
about the passing away of Archbishop Emeritus Mpilo Desmond Tutu (7 October-26 December
2021).

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mama Leah, the entire Tutu family, and the global
Anglican communion.

We give thanks to God for the life and witness of Archbishop Tutu, a transformative leader, a
priest, a prophet, and a pastor who listened to the voices of the marginalized and fearlessly
spoke truth to power in apartheid South Africa and many other places around the globe where
injustice prevailed.

We were privileged to have “the Arch” as the keynote speaker at the Fifteenth World Methodist
Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1986.

We mourn the loss of this stalwart of justice, peace, and reconciliation, a global icon whose
legacy lives on and leaves an indelible mark on the lives of many.

May he rest in peace and rise with all the saints in Glory.

Ivan M Abrahams

General Secretary

2021 Christmas Greeting

Religious leaders urge US president Biden to end embargo against the Cuban people

In a 15 October letter to US president Joe Biden, leaders from the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, Council of Churches in Cuba, and other faith-based groups urged an end to nearly 60 years of embargo against the Cuban people, who are facing an appalling humanitarian situation.

Havana, Cuba.

Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC, 2013.

The Obama administration, with your support, sought to rethink the policy and pursue re-engagement with Cuba, by relaxing sanctions, allowing direct flights between the two countries, and easing restrictions on US citizens traveling to and doing business in Cuba,” the letter reads, adding that former president Trump reversed that strategy, leading to severe economic repercussions for the Cuban people.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problems in Cuba,” reads the letter. We ask you to take a bold choice and end the embargo against the Cuban people.”

The letter also acknowledges the significant political pressures and obstacles to this course of action. 

We do not see real public evidence to believe that Cuba has the will, means and capacity to sponsor global terrorism,” reads the letter. We strongly believe that there are other ways to engage with the Cuban authorities to discuss and overcome disagreements on issues and legacies, without affecting the people who want to live in human dignity.”

Read the full letter