The National Council of Churches reports that on Jan. 9, "leaders of three faiths that trace their origins back to a common ancestor -- the Patriarch Abraham -- joined their hearts and pens today to form a common prayer for peace between Israel, Gaza and among all nations.

Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, and Dr. Sayeed Sayid of the Islamic Society of North America, acknowledged having "different views" as to how to end the confrontation between Israel and Gaza, said they looked "to the power that is greater than any of us can even contemplate" to ask for peace in the Middle East."

I know each of these men. I work wit Dr. Kinnamon on a weekly basis. I have met, spoken with and conversed by email with Rabbi Gutow, and last fall I was at a meeting with Dr. Sayeed Sayid and served with him on a committee for the Independent Sector. These are each thoughtful and respectful men; each deeply and thoroughly committee to his faith yet out for their faiths they see the need to be engaged with each other. 

They went on to say, "the three of us come from different religions and have different views regarding how to best solve the problems faced in the confrontation between Israel and Hamas. In many arenas we have found ways to work together but not yet in this situation. We look to the power that is greater than any of us can even contemplate and ask that power to help us find peace among the nations. "The full text can be found on the NCC website.

Church World Service, an organization related to the NCC, is supporting humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza as a member of the Action by Churches Together International alliance. I am proud to e a member of the CWS board of directors.

ACT efforts include those of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)'s Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR), International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Lutheran World Federation and Norwegian Church Aid, all long-time CWS partners. CWS-supported efforts now include the provision of food - including high-energy biscuits for children - medicine and blankets, as well as the deployment of trauma counselors. However, ACT said today that the movement of aid into Gaza is at a standstill, because of a strike of truck drivers concerned about the lack of security. It is unlikely the CWS-supported transport or any other aid "will be able to move into Gaza today," said ACT representative for Israel and Palestine, Liv Steimoeggen. The UN is responsible for organizing the transport of aid shipments into Gaza, including aid supplied by ACT.

HOW TO HELP: Contributions to support this emergency appeal may be sent to Church World Service,

P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515
. Please designate #6824, 2009 Gaza Humanitarian Response. For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding please visit or call the CWS Hotline, (800) 297-1516.

Meanwhile the ELCA bishops continue their trip spending today in the town of Hebron on the West Bank.  A blog of that trip can be found on the ELCA home page, which records that, "The trip by bishops of the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is to stress accompaniment with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, raise awareness of regional issues and boost advocacy for peace….The visit to Hebron was arranged by the  Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel," a unit of the World Council of Churches which tracks of "how Israel deals with Palestinians in territories it controls." At the ELCA webpage you will also find connections to the ELCA program, Peace not Walls - Stand for Justice in the Holy Land.


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Dear Mr. President: