Three senior ministry leaders in the Christian Reformed Church in North America signed their names to an eccumenical letter distributed by the Churches for Middle East Peace on Thursday (May 20) calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Israel/Palestine. Addressed to members of the United Nations Security Council, the letter is signed by more than 50 church and ministry leaders from Europe and North America. A ceasefire was agreed to that day and has been in place since Friday. A statement on the organization’s website May 21 reads “We at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcome the ceasefire and pray it holds. A ceasefire, however, is not enough. CMEP will continue to advocate for U.S. policies that will help result in a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel/Palestine.”
The Christian Reformed Church in North America is a member of CMEP. Colin Watson Sr., serving as the CRCNA’s executive director, and the two national directors of Word Renew, Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo in Canada and Carol Bremer-Bennett in the U.S., were among more than 50 leaders to sign the May 20 letter.
Bremer-Bennett told The Banner, “We stand against any violent conflict that is harming people's lives, especially civilians and children. We are working in the region for peacebuilding and respect of human life and dignity. We must stand for peaceful and just resolutions to these conflicts.”
The letter reflects concern over decades of “de facto annexation” by Israel throughout the West Bank. Previous advocacy letters from Churches for Middle East Peace have also condemned annexation.
In March CMEP wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden addressing Middle East policy recommendations, including an urge to “cultivate conditions for a future negotiated peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.” Watson also signed that letter.
Kaastra-Mutoigo said, “With World Renew's mandate from the CRCNA as a diaconal arm of the church to do justice and mercy, this situation that has gained much media attention is one that needs us to be present and standing in solidarity with those who suffer most and whose voices are not being heard well.”
For background on how the Christian Reformed Church, through its Office of Social Justice, has responded to work on Middle East Peace, see justice.crcna.org/middle-east-peace-church-speaks.