After almost two years of study, travel and discussion, the Middle East Study Committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approved its final report to the 219th General Assembly (2010).

The report, “Breaking Down Walls,” will be released in three parts.

The first part of the report, which contains the introduction and a series of letters to multiple audiences, is now available at the PC(USA) Middle East Peace site.

“We begin our report with these letters because we recognize that our ministry must be focused on relationships,” said the Rev. Ron Shive, chairman of the committee. “Our primary audience is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). But we know that others are eager to read our report and will bring their own expectations. We want to speak directly to them so that they hear the rest of what we say in light of this conversation.”

A biblical/theological section will be released March 8, and the remainder of the report, including policy recommendations, will be released March 10.

The committee was established by the 218th GA (2008) to “prepare a comprehensive study, with recommendations, focused on Israel/Palestine within the complex context of the Middle East.”

The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th GA, appointed the nine-member committee in consultation with the two previous moderators.

Part one of the report contains eight letters to the ecumenical and interfaith community as well as to Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.

“We have our points of agreement and disagreement with each of these audiences,” Shive said. “We don’t shy away from that. Instead, we want to move past misunderstandings and misinterpretations so that we can have substantive conversations on issues of world peace that matter to us all.”

One of the letters is addressed to “Our American Jewish Friends.” In it, the committee speaks of both its support for Israel as a state and its distress over the Israeli Occupation.

“It’s the honest tension in which we live,” Shive said. “Our underlying principle here is rooted in Scripture and ‘speaking the truth in love.’ It’s not the easiest road; but it’s the faithful path. And there’s hope in that.”

The committee’s report will be considered by the 219th GA, first in committee and then on the floor of the full assembly. If the GA as a whole approves the report and ecommendations, it will then become official PC(USA) policy.

The 219th GA will meet July 3-10, 2010, in Minneapolis, Minn.