Tag Archives: chemical weapons

Heartbeats above drumbeats

Prayer vigil Syria

We gathered at the Tillman Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations – Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Presbyterians, and more. We shared statements from our various denominations. We prayed – for the people of Syria – for our brothers and sisters who have been killed, wounded, and maimed by chemical weapons and by conventional weapons. We prayed for those who seek peace in the face of violence. We prayed for those who resort to violence that they might turn away and seek peace. We prayed for leaders of the United States and Syria and the world – that they might have the courage and wisdom to seek nonviolent, diplomatic solutions.

We prayed that we all might hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. It violates international standards and international law. International standards. International law. Thus the only appropriate response lies within the international community. It is not the place for any one nation or any coalition of nations to decide guilt and determine the appropriate response.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

A unilateral response by the United States or any nation flaunts international cooperation and violates the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter – to which the United States as a member of the UN agrees to abide – provides that the Security Council is the appropriate body to maintain the peace and security of the member states.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

Unilateral military action by a state undercuts the authority and integrity of the United Nations and the international system of cooperation. Unilateral military action defies diplomacy and cooperation and denies the possibility of a nonviolent, diplomatic, negotiated solution.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

May we – peoples, leaders, nations – turn from violence and seek alternative solutions.
May the efforts of Syrians to make peace and care for one another be blessed.
May diplomatic initiatives and efforts be redoubled.
May all the parties to the violence in Syria be brought together to negotiate.
May an international peace summit be  convened.
May investigations into the use of chemical weapons take place.
May the results of those investigations be honored – charges filed and trials held and verdicts rendered and sentences enforced.
May the international community act to help Syria rid itself of chemical weapons.
May an embargo be created and enforced against all parties who would provide any weapons to any parties to the violence in Syria.
May humanitarian aid be increased – to refugees, internally displaced, wounded, and all the people of Syria in need.
May humanitarian workers be protected and granted the access needed to meet the people.
May steps that I cannot imagine be taken on the path to peace.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

Unlikely to work?

Perhaps. Certainly it will be difficult.

But one thing that the people of the world has seen again and again is that violence feeds violence and war breeds war. Other options have to be tried.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

See you along the Trail.

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Stated Clerk issues statement in the wake of the escalating violence in Syria

This story originally appeared on the Web pages of the Presbyterian News Service:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness provides an opportunity to tell President Obama and Congress to refrain from a military response in Syria.


The Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued a statement today (August 30) in the wake of the escalating violence in Syria, calling upon U.S. and world leaders to refrain from military action.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

We are deeply concerned about events in Syria. We grieve for our brothers and sisters who have suffered so deeply for so long. We yearn for an end to the bloodshed and renew our call for a cease-fire and a mediated process involving all parties to provide new choices for all Syrians.

We condemn the use of chemical weapons. Regardless of who perpetrated the attack, such a usage violates a longstanding international norm.  We recognize the authority and the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to deal with this violation of international law. We call all nations to encourage the Security Council to address this illegal and immoral act. We do not doubt that justice is needed, but question the unilateral and inevitably selective role the United States has too often played, too often leading to greater violence, terrorism, and instability.

We call upon the President and the members of Congress to follow the example of other strong leaders in the past by exercising the courage and wisdom to refrain from military action that is likely to escalate the conflict further, and to bring our country directly into another war in the Middle East.

We applaud the President’s efforts to consult widely, conferring with international leaders and with Congress.  Now we ask him to spend time over this holiday weekend listening to what Americans want and fear.

Now is not the time to feed the violence and instability that has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Syrians, driven 3.4 million Syrians from their country, and displaced an additional 6.8 million Syrians from their homes. Most people affected by the conflict are noncombatants. Expanding the conflict will increase the suffering of the innocent.

Now is the time to heed the voices of our church partners who pray and call and work for peace. Our partners look to us to challenge policies of our government that help to fuel conflict in Syria and proxy wars across the Middle East.

Now is the time to reflect on the lessons of 12 years of involvement in conflict in the Middle East by the United States. Limited engagement is never truly limited.

Now is the time to support the peacemakers of Syria who seek to end the violence and build a future. In any Congressional deliberations, we urge that nonviolent forms of intervention be considered, and that next steps beyond military force be grounded in defensible cooperative goals for the region.

Now is the time for all outside parties to cease all forms of military intervention in Syria. States and and non-state actors must stop feeding the conflict in Syria by sending weapons to the government and to opposition forces.

Now is the time to renew the efforts for a diplomatic solution. The United States must work with the United Nations and other governments to contain the violence, restore stability in the region, provide humanitarian assistance, and encourage the building of an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens.

Now—in the grimmest of situations—is the time to build a coalition of nations and peoples willing to do the long, hard, and essential work of establishing interfaith relationships of respect and understanding.

Now—for Syria and all its neighbors—is the time to seek a new vision of cooperation and nonviolence that will support an intervention with the power of impartial justice that will lead to a just and lasting peace.

Now is the time to pray for wisdom for leaders, for courage to turn from violence, for grace to build and nurture relationships, for justice to roll down like waters, and for peace to prevail in Syria.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” For the people of Syria, may it now be a time for peace.


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