Disciples News Service

Facilitating peace in Syria: WCC dispatch #6

By Nathan Wilson

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Olav Fyske Tveit, said the WCC is ready to facilitate a meeting of key religious leaders, including Muslims, to help politicians bring about a lasting peace and reconciliation process in war-torn Syria.

In an invitation-only briefing, Tveit said, “We will try to gather both church leaders and also Muslim participants for a wider consultation about what religious leaders and communities can contribute both to promote and push for a Geneva 2 meeting to support those leaders who have to take tough decisions to start the political process to solve the conflict.”

Disciples may recall that General Minister and President Sharon Watkins participated, by invitation, in a gathering of Christian leaders from Syria and around the world on Sept. 18 at the Ecumenical Institute de Bossey in Switzerland.  Participants in the first gathering concluded that, “Churches must continue to raise their voice in their congregations, in their societies and with their governments.  We must strengthen the public outcry so that those in power will protect the common interest of humanity.”

About a second gathering, this one including key Muslim leaders, Tveit said, “We have plans for it but I cannot announce the plans before we know that it will happen.”

Tveit’s hope is that a second gathering will spur communities and political leaders to hold a “Geneva 2” Middle East peace conference that was originally expected to take place at the end of 2013.  The aim of the conference is to persuade the warring parties to find a solution to the conflicts that constitute the Syrian War and then build on a peace plan put forward by Kofi Annan in June 2012. 

Wilson pastors First Christian Church in Shelbyville, Indiana, and coordinates the “Faith & Values” section of The Indianapolis Star. He is an accredited media representative at the WCC’s 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea.