This week delegations from many of the factions involved in the Syrian conflict gathered in Switzerland for the Geneva II conference. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was in Geneva last week working with the World Council of Churches encouraging Christian leaders from across the world to come together as a united voice for peace in the lead up to the conference.
This conference provides the best chance for negotiating an immediate ceasefire and a possible plan for future negotiations to fully end the conflict in Syria. While in Geneva, Noffsinger wrote a personal letter to President Obama urging him and his administration to push for peace at Geneva II saying:
"The Church of the Brethren follows the One who promises to make all things new, and as people of faith we will work in solidarity with the people of Syria as they seek a new start and a way out of the cycle of violence that has crippled their country. Our hope is rooted in the belief that enemies can be reconciled to one another and that new beginnings can be salvaged from the ending of violence. We hope that you will work with us to make this hope a reality."
The conflict in Syria has persisted for more than 1,000 days, leaving over 100,000 Syrians dead, 6 million Syrians internally displaced, and over 2 million Syrians displaced as refugees in neighboring countries. This appalling violence continues and the humanitarian situation has reached historic proportions. The United States has been leading the way in providing humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by this conflict, but what we currently are doing is not enough, and the need will only grow as violence continues.
Late last summer, we had 495 Brethren at National Older Adult Conference write to the President regarding US involvement in Syria and a large response to our Action Alert to Congress and the President. We helped to successfully urge the Administration and Congress to refrain from engaging militarily in Syria, and once again we need to raise our voice up for peace.
American negotiators need to hear that we want peace above all else. We cannot allow this golden opportunity at Geneva II to be squandered away by cynicism or political agendas. Write the President and urge him and his administration to support an immediate ceasefire so that Syria can begin the process of rebuilding and reconciling.
Mr. President,-- Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission and Service and Office of Public Witness. To receive Action Alerts or other e-communications go to www.brethren.org/advocacy/actionalerts.html. For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, coordinator, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 717-333-1649.
As your administration prepares for the upcoming Geneva II conference, I want to urge you to prioritize peace above all other concerns. Only an immediate ceasefire that allows for serious political negotiations to begin can finally bring this violent conflict to an end.
This conference provides a golden opportunity to make progress towards a brighter future for Syria and its people, and I hope that your administration will make every effort to get as many different parties to the table so that a broad agreement can be reached. This conflict cannot be won on the battlefield, but rather must be ended by negotiators that prioritize peace and the safety of the Syrian people above everything else.
I pray that you will remember the many Syrians who are suffering under such awful violence as you and your administration deliberate on these tremendously important matters.
Thank you for hearing my concerns,
In God's peace,
Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness
Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline