"I am pleased that Presbyterian Action can make available free alternative resources that reflect the intent of a Presbyterian General Assembly concerned with fairness and honesty in our relations with both Palestinians and Israelis." -- IRD Presbyterian Action Director James D. Berkley
Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, email@example.com; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, April 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations are focusing on the Middle East this spring, observing a "Week of Prayer and Witness with Christians in the Middle East." This observance derives from an overture passed at the 2006 PCUSA General Assembly—the same Assembly that reversed the 2004 decision to move toward anti-Israel divestment and signaled a desire instead for balance in dealing with the Middle East. The IRD's Presbyterian Action committee was among those encouraging that denominational policy turnabout in 2006.
Yet the official PCUSA materials for this spring's observance show the same pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel political bias. In response, Presbyterian Action has released an alternative set of materials. These Presbyterian Action resources provide a variety of viewpoints and factual information not found in the denominational version. The free worship materials and reference guide may be downloaded from the IRD web site at www.ird-renew.org/presbyterian/mideast
The Rev. James D. Berkley, Presbyterian Action Director, commented:
"Presbyterian Action laments the bias and deficiencies of the official materials, which run counter to the broad desire of the General Assembly for evenhandedness regarding Middle East affairs. We are pleased, however, that we can make available free alternative resources that reflect the intent of a Presbyterian General Assembly concerned with fairness and honesty in our relations with both Palestinians and Israelis.
"Certainly the Middle East needs our prayers for its peace and freedom, and people everywhere need a witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. But in our denomination today, one-sided political agendas often lurk. The denominationally approved Israel/Palestine Mission Network is led by ardent supporters of the Palestinian nationalist cause, and they are roundly antagonistic toward Israel.
"Many Presbyterian congregations will not trust the material produced by that network for this Week of Prayer. Presbyterian Action is offering a positive alternative for those congregations that wish to celebrate the Week of Prayer, but without questionable theological or political slants.
"We do not seek to be a radically pro-Israel faction to counter the denomination's radically pro-Palestinian activists. Instead our materials reflect a variety a viewpoints, so that Presbyterians can piece together their own response to the Middle East. We aim to offer here a small-scale model of constructive Christian engagement in a potentially divisive political issue."