Statement On The Conflict In Israel And Gaza
Issued By The Cabinet Of Interfaith Partnership Of Greater St. Louis
October 13, 2023
As people of conscience, we are deeply distressed and profoundly saddened by the tragic attacks that took place in Israel this weekend, and our hearts break as we continue to watch the conflict unfold between Israel and Gaza. As we witness unconscionable attacks against civilians, our moral values have been violated and our longing for a peaceful world shattered. Our prayers go out to all those affected, especially those who have lost loved ones, those who have been displaced from their homes, and those who are held captive. Peace and safety are fundamental human rights entitled to all, Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis (IPSTL) includes representatives of more than 30 religions or denominations, including those with people directly impacted by the conflict. For nearly 40 years, IPSTL has worked hard to nurture and sustain strong friendships among all faiths, not just within our organization, but also in the community as a whole. The current circumstances make that mission as important as it has ever been.
IPSTL’s Cabinet is comprised of local religious leaders or their designees. The Cabinet provides a public voice for Interfaith Partnership on matters of religious, moral and ethical conscience.
The Cabinet declares that regardless of differing views regarding the conflict and its causes, all human beings should be assured of safety from violence. Therefore, we unite in prayers for peace, in prayers that the parties will work to resolve their differences without further harm to innocent civilians, and in prayers that all people be able to return safely to their homes.
Also, we declare a commitment that we will not permit the conflict to create divisions within our own community. We recognize that this commitment demands much of us, but it is essential if we are to assure that we remain at peace with one another.
We ask that everyone join us in these prayers and in this commitment.
A Prayer Responding to the War in Israel and Gaza by Teri McDowell Ott, Editor and Publisher – Presbyterian Outlook
Lord, hear our prayers.
You know our history of complicated conflicts, tense polarization, and situations so politicized that we are afraid to say or pray anything. Yet we know you grieve the violence of war and condemn acts of terrorism. We know you grieve the historical suffering of Jews and Palestinians. May our prayers for peace be uttered out loud for all to hear, our prayers for diplomacy, and for difficult, yet faithful conversation to resume.
God, we groan in grief over the news of this war in Israel and Gaza. Pave a path toward peace in this age-old, tragic conflict. Protect the innocent wherever bombs of destruction fall. Be with those who are captured and the families of those who are captured. Offer a way out for those who are trapped. Awaken us to our common humanity, our common human needs no matter the walls we build. Amen.
Our televisions and social feeds are full of news from Israel-Palestine and the recent declaration of war. To people of many faiths this land is culturally rich, historically significant, and sacred ground. Scenes of explosions and sounds of sirens disturb us deeply as we grieve the loss of life, captive taking, and the withholding of basic necessities of life.
Over the past five days 2,000+ civilian lives were lost on top of military casualties. 5,000+ people are injured needing immediate care. Another 250,000 people are displaced with numbers expected to increase. Global health experts remind us that on top of the tangible loss and physical toll there is a tremendous impact on the mental health of those who experience war, especially for children.
As people of faith, we turn to the practice of lament that guides our prayers and leads us to action. We join our voice with the Psalmist, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!” (Psalm 130:1) May God hear the voices of those in Israel and Palestine experiencing unprecedented suffering and escalating violence. May the cries of our partners and care for humanity lead us from prayer to action.
We cry aloud for the devastation that has occurred and the fear of what might be.
- We lament the lost lives of civilians, sojourners, military personnel, journalists, and aid workers.
- For the injured, kidnapped, and refugees we pray.
- We cry aloud for those whose homes have been destroyed and those who have been forced to leave their homes for safer ground.
- We lament the impact of war on families who become fractured or separated. Political leaders declare war, civilians pay the price.
- We cry aloud for those who feel forgotten, helpless, abandoned, and trapped within their own land.
- We are saddened by a delay in a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors.
- We decry the withholding of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies for people already devastated by isolation and embargo.
- We decry the actions of Hamas on Israeli citizens and the violent retaliation of Israel against the Palestinian people.
- We decry our own nation’s involvement in the region to provide peace and stability, but instead causes increased militarism and division.
- For world powers to eagerly enforce peace between Israel and its neighbors, we pray.
In our lament, we confess that we have not listened to our partners first nor the people of Israel and Palestine. We have leaned into our settler-colonial ways believing that we held solutions for other peoples and lands. We have trusted military might when God calls us toward diplomacy and peaceful protest. We confess that we are all too often egocentric putting ourselves, our families, and our nation’s needs before those of Palestinian people and Israeli peace and human rights organizations. In our lament we pause to pray and move to more just actions.
Please share your own prayer with the presbytery in the comment section.