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Letter to the churches in Iraq

14 October 2008

Geneva, 14 October 2008

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, 

It is with anguish and great concern that we have followed the news concerning terrible acts of violence in Mosul during the past week. We have heard that people are being killed, houses bombed, thousands are fleeing their homes, and churches and church properties are being destroyed. You are constantly on our minds, and in our prayers.  

The fellowship of the World Council of Churches is deeply troubled by your suffering and calls urgently for solutions. We have been in contact with officials of the United Nations and the Iraqi government, as well with our member churches and ecumenical partners throughout the world, lobbying for swift action to quell the violence in Iraq and to thwart activities aimed at the expulsion of Christians and other minority populations. 

We are also organizing a visit to Mosul and Baghdad by representative members of the ecumenical movement, to demonstrate our solidarity with those who are under threat. 

We in the World Council of Churches are urging all our member churches and partners to pray for peace and reconciliation in Iraq, to pray for the families of those who have lost their dear ones, for those who are displaced, for all others who suffer the consequences of violence and for all who are striving to restore trust and goodwill among people and communities. 

On behalf of the member churches and partners of the World Council of Churches, I am writing to express our support as you pass through these turbulent and challenging times, and to encourage you to witness to the love and peace of God in Jesus Christ even amidst hatred and aggression. I also write in order to convey our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathy and solidarity to the grieving families of the victims and all who are affected by this calamity. Even as we suffer, the apostle advised, we have the opportunity to overcome evil with good (Rom.12:21). Let us pray for harmony among religious communities, and let us work together to build trust and mutual respect.  

Knowing that your situation is extremely difficult in this moment, we encourage you - in so far as it is possible - to remain in your land and to bear witness there. You are "living stones" in the Middle East, the region where the foundations of the Church were laid and from which the gospel was carried to the ends of the earth. Your presence in the land is an assurance that Christianity continues to endure; you are a sign of hope to people of faith everywhere. 

May the God of peace fill our hearts and minds with the love of Christ, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that we may strive in unity to establish God's reign of peace, justice and life for all.  

Yours in Christ,  

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
WCC general secretary