For Peace in Syria | Letter & Resources

Written by Bishop Grant. Posted in Bishop's Blog, Mission, Pastoral Letters

syria-vigil-web

A call to fasting and prayer on Saturday, September 7th

Greetings to you, sisters and brothers,
       in the name of our Lord Jesus,
       the one we know as the Prince of Peace.

On Sunday, Roman Catholic Pope Francis spoke strong words of condemnation for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, expressing clearly his personal sorrow and the inevitable judgment of both God and history upon such actions. Francis also shared words of caution for those who would seek to use violence to achieve peace saying:

“War brings on war! Violence brings on violence!”

It is too easy to feel powerless in the face of such terrible events that are half the world away. That is why I was moved by Francis’ invitation to his flock to a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. And in a promising spirit of ecumenism, he extended this invitation to all people “of good will.” I am writing to encourage you to consider how we might accept this invitation.

Our United Methodist Social Principles clearly express our distain for war and violence, recognizing how they “frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind.” As Christians we are called to be peacemakers, even as we sometimes hold within our body very different understandings on how that peace might be achieved. But nothing in our disagreements should keep us from being united in our prayers for peace in Syria and around the world.

It is up to our government,and other foreign governments, to decide whether to intervene to stop these acts of violence by the Syrian leadership. This will most likely involve military intervention. Although we have the power of the prophetic voice, our main mission as a church is to seek peace, not war or violence. Our most important response at this time is to pray and ask for peace.

So let me encourage you to heed Pope Francis’ invitation to spend Saturday, September 7th in fasting and to pray for peace in Syria. For some, this may be most practically done in private or with your loved ones. For others, you may wish to invite your community to pray and fast together in some manner – leaving your sanctuary open or hosting an evening vigil. Wherever there is an opportunity, I would challenge you to reach out to other faith communities to join together in that most generous spirit of interfaith ecumenism. What a blessing it would be for our sanctuaries to be used by our communities for prayers such as these!

Despite its long history in our Christian tradition, I expect that fasting may be something relatively unfamiliar to some and beyond the ability of others for any numbers of health reasons. Please participate as you can, knowing that God understands and does not expect us to endanger our health.

I have asked our staff to gather a few resources to support your efforts of prayer and fasting for Syria. These should be available for you sometime on Wednesday. Please take advantage of these if they are useful but don’t let us stop you from seeking out and sharing your own practices as well.*

Grace and peace,

signature

Bishop Grant Hagiya


Resources

Check back as we continue to add to this list of resources.

The following templates are provided to help your church to spread the word in your community.

Community Invitation Flyer Template (8.5×11 | Microsoft Word .DOC)
Community Invitation Flyer Template – Alternate (2 per 8.5×11, Microsoft Word .DOC)
Community Invitation Flyer Template – PDF Sample

The following graphics are provided to encourage personal and/or corporate participation in fasting and prayer for peace on Saturday, September 7th. Image provided by Paul Jeffrey.

For Peace in Syria (Facebook Cover Photo for Pages – .JPG) (Profile Version – JPG.)
For Peace in Syria (Print – .JPG)
For Peace in Syria (Web Resolution – .JPG)
UMCOR: Flyer: Be Hope for War-Impacted  Syrians

Liturgical Resources

United Methodist Book of Worship – 428, Peace w/ Justice Prayer
United Methodist Book of Worship – 515, 517, For the Nation
United Methodist Book of Worship – 520, 521 For Peace
GBGM | Annual Day of Prayer for Peace
Vigil for Healing and Peace in the Spirit of Taize 

Resources on Fasting

An Embarrassment of Riches, a short intro to Fasting
Fasting as a Spiritual Discipline – methodist.org.uk PDF
What is Fasting? – SA Fact Sheet
A John Wesley Sermon on Fasting
Lent: A Time to Fast and Pray – UM Interpreter
What does The United Methodist Church say about fasting? – umc.org
Regional Media Center Resource | Celebration of Discipline | Mudhouse Sabbath

A variety of articles and statements from religious leaders/groups on Syria.

NCR: Syrian Christians say Western attack could make things worse
UMNS: Church groups assist as Syrian refugees grow
CWS: Ahead of Expanded Military Action in Syria, Cairo Prepares for More Refugees
Letter: Military strikes not the answer in Syria (GBCS among others)
Jim Wallis: On Syria, We Must Use a Moral Compass to Guide Our Moral Outrage
Religion News Service: On Syrian conflict, three Christian Perspectives
National Council of Churches deplores Syrian chemical attack…
Pope Francis Renews His Appeal for fasting (Wed. Sept 4 – with audio)

A couple ways to Respond

UMCOR is taking donations to support Syrian Refugees
CWS: Syrian Humanitarian Crisis Response
United Methodist General Board of Church & Society: Say NO to U.S. Military Strikes on Syria


* Do you have a great resource or idea to share? Please email it to communications@greaternw.org as soon as possible.


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Comments (14)

  • Susan Lane

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    Bishop Hagiya,

    Thank you so much for taking the lead on this. God has been leading me personally to do the same and I am so glad that our church leaders are calling for the church to fast and pray.

    Peace, Susan Lane

    Reply

  • Paul Jeffrey

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    The girl in the image at the top of the page is worshipping at St. Paul’s Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Damascus.

    Reply

  • rima

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    God bless my country syria and peace for syrian people

    Reply

  • P. L. Doran

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    Bishop, thank you so very much for taking the lead for The United Methodist Church! I was handed a copy of the Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of New Mexico ‘s Day of Prayer and Fasting. I took this to my own First United Methodist Church of Clovis, NM and handed to my Pastor for his review and he told me that yes, of course we Methodists were also doing this Sep 7th. Thanks! Blessings! Pat Doran

    Reply

  • Deborah Maria

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    I am grateful for this call to conscience; however, one sentence in the Bishop’s statement seems inconsistent: “It is up to our government,and other foreign governments, to decide whether to intervene to stop these acts of violence by the Syrian leadership. This will most likely involve military intervention. ”

    Let us be hearty in our prayers and in our own methods of intervention. Let us use our influence as citizens to speak to our political leaders about seeking steps that avoid “military intervention.” Let us not presume it will happen. There must be another way. A better way.

    Reply

  • The Peace of Peaces | Spreading Shalom

    |

    […] all people of faith to a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on Saturday, September 7th. Other Christian leaders have joined him in calling for prayer on Saturday, making this an ecumenical effort. Prayer and […]

    Reply

  • Jennifer Andone

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    Thank you to the Bishop for the call to prayer and fasting for Syria. Also, thank you to those who compiled the resources. Very helpful (I couldn’t find anything like this on the GBOD site.) Can I use the photo of the girl at the top of the page, and what if any restrictions would apply? Thank you so much.

    Reply

    • patrick

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      You can use the photo in support of prayer for Syria. Please be sure to keep the photo credit (Paul Jeffrey) that is watermarked on the image with it as well.

      Reply

  • Karl Kroger

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    Magnificent and timely resources. Thank you.

    Reply

  • Syria War, Churches, Methodists, Franco, Spanish Civil War & Providence

    |

    […] In contrast with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society’s usual pacifist platitudes, two United Methodist bishops have made relatively thoughtful, careful statements on the Syria War. Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Greater Northwest Conference urged joining Pope Francis’s call for fasting and prayer. And Hagiya avoided making a specific political recommendation. Instead, he said: […]

    Reply

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