From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ABCUSA: Weiss Brings American Baptist Voice to Peace Delegations

From "SCHRAMM, Richard" <>
Date Fri, 14 Feb 2003 08:47:29 -0500

American Baptist News Service (Valley Forge, Pa. 2/14/03)--The Rev. Dr.
Daniel E. Weiss, who served as general secretary of American Baptist
Churches USA from 1988 to 2000, is part of two delegations that are meeting
this month with European church and political leaders to promote peaceful
solutions to the Iraq crisis.

Weiss was asked by American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary the Rev.
Dr. A. Roy Medley to represent the denomination "as a distinguished and
knowledgeable spokesman for the historic American Baptist commitment to
peace, dialog and reconciliation in the name of Christ."

The National Council of Churches of Christ has organized visits to five
European capitals as part of the U.S. ecumenical body's search for
diplomatic means of avoiding conflict.	The effort was underwritten by a
special gift to the NCCC from an individual desirous of encouraging the
pursuit of peaceful diplomacy.

The first delegation met Feb. 5 in Berlin with counterparts from across
Europe and with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.  

Weiss was part of a five-member NCCC delegation that met with
representatives of French churches Feb. 10-11.	He also will join the
delegation to London (Feb. 17-19), co-sponsored by the Christian
organization Sojourners, which plans to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair
and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Other delegations are scheduled for Rome
(Feb. 25-28) and Moscow and/or Madrid at a time to be determined.  

Participating in the Paris visit, in addition to Weiss, were the Rev.
Michael E. Livingston, executive director, International Council of
Community Churches, Trenton, N.J.; Thomas H. Jeavons, Wallingford, Pa.,
general secretary, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of
Friends; Father Stanley DeBoe, Trinitarian Fathers, Silver Spring, Md.; and
John Briscoe, NCCC staff, New York.

They met with representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Reformed
Church, the Lutheran Church and the Baptist Federation of France; the bishop
of the American Episcopal Church in Europe; a representative of the Baptist
Churches of France; staff of the French Protestant Federation; and Hubert
Colin de Verdiere, general secretary of the French Ministry of Foreign

Both the National Council of Churches, whose members include 36 Protestant,
Orthodox, African American and Peace member churches with a combined
membership of 50 million, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
formally are on record in opposition to war with Iraq.

Weiss, who served as spokesperson for the delegation, noted that many
Europeans were unaware that there is significant opposition to war at this
time within the U.S. Christian community.  In identifying the broad spectrum
of churches in the U.S. that are calling for peaceful alternatives to war,
Weiss cited the likely staggering toll of military and civilian lives that
would result from conflict.  "We don't like Saddam Hussein," he said, "but
we feel there are much better ways to resolve the Iraq crisis than this."  

He summarized the position of the group, emphasizing that while not all
members of the religious groups represented agreed with the delegation's
position, "we believe a majority do; many member communions have made
official statements reflecting the position we express."

He also noted the delegation believed: 
"...Saddam Hussein is an evil and dangerous dictator and should be removed; 
"our allegiance to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, transcends all
geographical boundaries and all governments; 
"all attempts to solve the problems with Iraq through peaceful solution must
be exhausted before war is considered; 
" is vitally important to live up to the UN charter and to avoid
destroying or weakening NATO; 
"[while] we range, in our memberships, from pacifists to those holding a
just war position, the conditions for a just war...have not been met; 
"the long-range fallout from war has not been adequately assessed; it will
destabilize the Middle East, cause an additional threat to Israel, cause an
even greater breech in long-term Christian/Muslim relations [and] is likely
to have far reaching environmental implications (we recalled the burning of
oil wells and the pollution of the gulf during the 1991 war which is still
not cleaned up)." 

"... We, therefore, oppose going to war since it has not been clearly
thought out strategically, is morally wrong and economically disastrous,"
the delegation maintained.

General Secretary Medley said:	"It is my prayer that the voices of American
Baptists--and those of all others who are deeply motivated by Christ's call
to peacemaking--will help to soften hardened hearts, setting the stage for
diplomacy and not aggression.  While American Baptist Churches USA is not a
traditional "peace" church in the strictest sense, I am convinced that in
every church and every family of our denomination there is a profound
yearning for global peace.  I ask all American Baptists to seize this
fragile moment and prayerfully seek, in the name of Christ, genuine
wholeness and understanding within God's creation."


American Baptist News Service: Office of Communication, American Baptist
Churches USA, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851; (800)ABC-3USA x2077
/ (610)768-2077; fax: (610)768-2320;;

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