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Letter inviting special prayers for Syria and beyond

Letter to the WCC member churches and Central Committee members inviting special prayers for Syria and beyond by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

24 March 2015

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective
James 5:16b

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this Holy Lent, we journey together to recall our Lord’s entry to Jerusalem, his sufferings and death, and his resurrection from the dead. As we reflect on these mysteries of our faith, we carry in our hearts our sisters and brothers in Christ, who in many countries in the Middle East have entered their fifth year of turmoil. Unbearable atrocities have been committed by state and non-state armed groups in the numerous conflicts, mainly in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt. In these wars, hundreds of thousands have been killed, mostly innocent civilians, among them so many children. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and ancestral lands. Countless others have disappeared into prisons, have faced torture and ill treatment, and have been deprived of the basic conditions for life with dignity. All perpetrators in these conflicts have no respect for international humanitarian law, and have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In all of these tragedies, the religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region, a catastrophic assault on Christian life and witness in those lands. Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change. Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always cross, always resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife.

During this Lenten season, the World Council of Churches invites its member churches and Christians worldwide to offer special prayers on Sunday, March 29 for all people affected by these wars. We ask these prayers especially for the countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, where the indigenous Christian presence and witness have been continuous since the incarnation of our Lord, and from where the Good News has spread all over the world.

A service of common prayer has been developed as a helpful resource for parishes and congregations. These prayers can be adapted according to the different calendars, liturgical styles and church traditions.

As we are called to pray without ceasing, let us together lift our voices in longing for justice and peace.

Yours in our Common Lord,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary