From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Mission is about justice and peacemaking, says Mideast church leader
Fri, 28 Feb 2003 12:24:14 -0500
February 28, 2003
Episcopalians: Mission is about justice and peacemaking, says
Mideast church leader
by James Solheim
(ENS) According to the head of the Middle East Council of
Churches, mission "needs to practice justice by doing justice,
reconciling people with each other and with God."
Speaking at the Anglican Communion Mission Organizations
Conference in Cyprus February 12-18, the Rev. Riaj Jarjour spoke
of "two broken communities" in his region--the people of Iraq
and the Palestinians. He argued that the Iraqis had been
suffering under international sanctions for 12 years and "a war
will make matters worse."
"We need a mission to Muslims, not to bring people to Christ but
to proclaim Christ, Jesus the peacemaker, Jesus who came with
justice and Jesus the reconciler," he said in switching his
focus to the Holy Land.
As delegates from around the world shared chilling stories of
conflict in their regions, they asked how the Christian
community could assist in peacemaking by opposing the misuse of
religious symbolism in many situations. They also explored ways
to use advocacy to focus more attention on the plight of
ordinary people caught up in war and civil conflicts--and how
the church could be a mediator and an agent for healing
Freedom from scourge of AIDS
In a statement released at the end of the conference, delegates
challenged Anglicans throughout the world to "raise up a new
generation of children free from the scourge of HIV/AIDS--and
heard that the church is one of the greatest resources in that
struggle, but also a hindrance because of its reluctance to
address issues of human sexuality openly.
Anglican churches are playing an active and vital role in areas
where the AIDS pandemic is at its worst, especially in Africa,
where most churches are establishing special desks to coordinate
the campaign. In Rwanda, for example, the Anglican archbishop
chairs the national committee on AIDS. In Ghana, the Council of
Churches has joined with Roman Catholics and Muslims in a
campaign that emphasizes compassion for those infected as well
as programs aimed at prevention.
A delegate from Uganda described how the campaign was affecting
issues of confidentiality. Arguing in favor of a shared
confidentiality rather than a strict confidentiality, the
delegate said, "If I want to tell my wife I have tested positive
I need my pastor to be there and the Mothers' Union to be on
hand to support her."
Final statement lists challenges
In a final statement issued at the conclusion of the conference,
the 110 participants from 40 countries reaffirmed that "the
incarnation is the supreme model for our mission engagement" and
that Christians are "called to live out our faith on the fault
lines of a divided world." They also pledged themselves to
"ongoing transformation and renewal of our mission structures"
as well as "closer sharing between mission organizations" in
seeking ways to work cooperatively.
At the same time, in their statement the delegates challenged
the churches of the Anglican Communion to "appreciate the
diverse cultures and contexts in which we live, work and witness
and find new ways to use these positively in our mission." They
also asked the communion to seek "greater understanding of how
mission and evangelism is to be conducted in a post-colonial
communion" and to take seriously "the communication needs of
non-English speaking contexts."
The statement pleaded for "new models for mission engagement
with the world of Faiths," fresh approaches to "fostering
international chains of prayer and intercession," more efforts
for "justice, peace and reconciliation in places torn apart by
war, violence, poverty and human misery," as well as more
attention to the plight of refugees and displaced persons.
--James Solheim is director of the Episcopal News Service. This
article is based on reports by John Martin, who covered the
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