Christian Church leaders worldwide urge Sunak to back ceasefire now

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
No 10 Downing Street,
London, SW1P 2AB

November 29, 2023

“My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.”
Lamentations 2:11

Dear Prime Minister,

We have watched in horror and sadness at the devastation unfolding in Palestine and Israel since October 7th. As leaders of Christian communities throughout the world, we join in grief for the Israelis and Palestinians who are mourning loved ones who have died. Our faith compels us to speak out. To make clear that we oppose violence, whether directed toward Israelis or Palestinians. Even the loss of one more life is one too many. International humanitarian law must be respected and adhered to by all sides.

We welcome the recent announcement about the release of dozens of hostages and a parallel prisoner exchange, in addition to the desperately needed few days of a cessation of violence. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to insist that a long-standing bilateral ceasefire comes to fruition.

We acknowledge the profound and existential grief experienced as a result of the actions of Hamas on October 7 as a tragedy for Jewish people in Israel and around the world. We weep with those who have loved ones held hostage, and we pray for their immediate release.

Like the author of Lamentations, our broken hearts weep as we hear of Palestinian babies in Gaza dying and of the thousands of children who have lost their lives. More than eleven thousand Palestinians have been killed, tens of thousands have been wounded, and 1.6 million have been displaced from their homes and communities. It is unacceptable that millions of people are in desperate need of clean water, adequate food, fuel for electricity, and urgently needed medical supplies. Without safe drinking water and proper medical supplies, poor hygiene conditions have already led to more preventable deaths, especially among children. We weep with broken hearts as we hear of hospitals, mosques, churches, and schools damaged and destroyed by this war. In Gaza, there is no safe place. There is no refuge. There is no escape.

The escalation of war cannot be adequately understood without acknowledging the conflict’s broader backdrop – ongoing Israeli occupation and the disenfranchisement of Palestinians for more than 70 years. Three-quarters of Palestinian residents of Gaza are refugees dating back to Before 7 October 2023 had already been on track to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the Second Intifada in 2000. Under the current Israeli government, there has been a significant expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank, emboldening Israeli settlers to act with impunity as they attack Palestinians and force them from their homes. Settler violence has brutally intensified since 7th October, while there has been an increase in abuse, harassment, and discrimination of Palestinian Israeli citizens in Israel. A future where all human dignity in the region is respected looks distant if these realities are not acknowledged.

We stand up ardently against the vitriolic hatred that is being expressed around the world toward Jews, Muslims, and others because of firmly held convictions about the war. We condemn crimes of hate and uphold that all people should be able to live without fear, with security, and with equally protected human rights. We lament how this conflict is straining community cohesion and interreligious efforts.

We write as religious leaders to say enough is enough. We cannot remain silent as generations of families in Gaza are wiped out in an instant. World leaders cannot sit by while Palestinian civilians in Gaza experience such catastrophic destruction and trauma. The relentless and unrestrained bombing campaign with horrific indiscriminate effects and the ground invasion by Israel must end.

We are deeply grieved by the complicity of the United States and several other Western countries in the continued violence through efforts to actively oppose a ceasefire, including by vetoing multiple United Nations Resolutions. Instead, we call on governments worldwide to do everything possible to secure a bilateral ceasefire, one that will stop all violence from Hamas and Israel, allow for the safe release of civilian hostages held in Gaza, and give immediate and adequate access to desperately needed humanitarian aid to be delivered, including through crossings to Israel.

Without an agreed upon end to violence from all parties – there is no path forward. We call on all governments to show support for the protection of all human life, advocating for a just and durable resolution to this crisis in which all Israelis and Palestinians might realize a vision of a just peace, illuminating human dignity, advancing security and self-determination for all.

Yours sincerely,

Christine Allen – Director, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development
Dr. Nicola Brady – General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
The Rt. Rev. Christopher Chessun – The Lord Bishop of Southwark, Church of England
Rt. Rev. Michael Doe – Assistant Bishop and Preacher to Gray’s Inn (London) Anglican Diocese of Southwark Trustee, The Balfour Project
Rt. Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton – Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
Rev. Dr. Tessa Henry-Robinson – Moderator of the General Assembly, United Reformed Church
John Hill – Interim General Secretary, The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
The Most Rev. Dr. Michael Jackson Archbishop of Dublin, Church of Ireland
Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Langrish Former Bishop of Exeter
Tim Livesey – Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Very Rev. Andrew R.C. McLellan, C.B.E. – Former Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Rev. Gill Newton – President, Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain
Paul Parker – Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Father Timothy Radcliffe, OP – Former Master of the Order of Preachers
Rev. Chris Rose Director, Amos Trust – Patrick Watts Director, Christian Aid
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Jo Bailey Wells – Deputy Secretary General, Anglican Communion, London
Joyce Ajlouny – General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian – Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate Diocese, Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
Rev. David E. Bennett – President, Moravian Church Provincial Elders’ Conference
Rev. Bronwen Boswell – Acting Stated Clerk, General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Bishop Susan J. Briner – Southwestern Texas Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. LaMarco Antonio Cable – Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ (UCC)
Bishop Laurie Larson Caesar – Oregon Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon – Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
The Rt. Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler – Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming, Founding President of CARAVAN
Stassi Cramm – President, Community of Christ
Rev. Dr. Rob Dalrymple – Leadership Board, Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East (NEME)
Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe – Diocese of Central New York, The Episcopal Church
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton – Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Pastor Ps L. Elliott – General Secretary, Rhema Family Churches
Bishop Paul D. Erickson – Greater Milwaukee Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson – General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America (RCA)
Susan Gunn – Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Andrew S. Hamilton – District Executive, Southeastern District Church of the Brethren
Lisa Sharon Harper – President and Founder, Freedom Road
The Rev. Deborah Hutterer – Bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod, Evangelical Church in America (ELCA)
Bishop Richard Jaech – Southwestern Washington Synod, Evangelical Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Kevin T Jones – Bishop of Northeastern Iowa Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Nicolas Kazarian – Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Dr. Peter Makari – Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ (UCC)
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Rev. Felix Malpica – Bishop of the La Crosse Area Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The Rev. Lee M. Miller II – Bishop of the Upstate NY Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Professor Leepo Modise – University of South Africa
Bridget Moix – General Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
Bishop Joy Mortensen-Wiebe – South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Dr. Lungile Mpetsheni – General Secretary, The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana – General Secretary, South African Council of Churches
Scott Murphy – President, Community of Christ
Rev. Siphiwe Ndebele – Evangelical Alliance of South Africa
Rev. David M. Neuhaus, SJ – Superior of Holy Land Jesuits
Rev. Amy J. Odgren – Northeastern Minnesota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens – General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada
Rev. Dr. Tyrone S. Pitts – General Secretary Emeritus/Ecumenical Officer , Progressive National Baptist Convention Inc.
The Rt. Rev. Bavi Rivera – Bishop of Eastern Oregon, The Episcopal Church
Richard L. Santos – President and CEO, Church World Service (CWS)
Bishop G.S. Seane – Central Diocese, Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa (ELCSA)
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka – Catholic Bishop of Umtata, South Africa
Andrea Smith – Founding Board Member, Evangelicals4Justice
Rev. Jason Smith – Executive Director, BPFNA Bautistas por la Paz
Bishop Kevin L. Strickland – Southwestern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Bishop Pedro M. Suarez – Florida-Bahamas Synod. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Adam Taylor – President, Sojourners Rev.
Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson – General Minister and President. United Church of Christ (UCC)
Rev. N. Tyokolwana – Moravian Church, South Africa
Nikki Toyama-Szeto – Executive Director. Christians for Social Action (CSA)
Rev. Sandra María Van Opstal   – – –      Founder, Chasing Justice
Father Thomas Zain – Vicar General, Antiochian Orthodox Church

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