On the day the Global Christian Forum released an Appeal by Middle East church leaders calling their co-citizens “to reject all forms of extremism and enmity” and for the world community to “to support a Christian presence in the Middle East in partnership with other religions” it was reported that two Orthodox archbishops had been kidnaped in Syria.
The Church of the Brethren is one of the Christian denominations taking part in the Global Christian Forum, which is intended to offer “an open space for churches and Christian groups uniquely bringing extended families of the Christian traditions together,” according to its Guiding Purpose Statement.
Global Christian Forum leaders are concerned for the safety of Archbishop Mar Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, Syria, and Archbishop Boulos Yazaji of the Greek Orthodox of Aleppo. The two were intercepted by armed men as they travelled from Turkish border areas where they were undertaking humanitarian work. It is understood that the bishops’ driver was shot and killed.
Archbishop Mar Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim is a member of the international committee of the Global Christian Forum.
Forum secretary Larry Miller has asked that global participants in the forum join in prayer for the safe release of the two bishops and a cessation of violence in the region.
Appeal by Middle East church leaders
Meanwhile, an appeal released by 21 Middle East church leaders, covering the widest spectrum of denominations and communities, said they “were particularly appalled by the horrific and bloody violence in Syria, the destruction, the displacement, and the dire circumstances of the victims of such violence.” The leaders met in Amman, Jordan, on April 8-9, in a gathering convened by the GCF.
The appeal also expressed deep concern about recent events in Egypt with its “repugnant sectarian tensions and undesirable consequences.” Recognizing that many had suffered regardless of “religious, ethnic, social, and political identity,” the group called on “our brothers, sisters, and co-citizens to reject all forms of extremism and enmity, and to return to our shared human and spiritual values.” They also urged governments, international bodies, and church groups “to provide more efforts to insure the continuity of Christian presence in the Middle East by helping and encouraging people to remain in their own lands.”
Find the release from the Global Christian Forum, including the full text of the appeal from the Middle East church leaders, at www.pictco.org/MC2_GCF/mails/attach/GCF-MedRel-ME%20consultation-kidnap.4.pdf .
The Global Christian Forum is headquartered in Strasbourg, France. Its website may be found at http://globalchristianforum.org .