Responding to the ongoing agony of a virtual civil war in Syria, the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls Presbyterians to engage in prayer, witness, and action on behalf of the Syrian people. Specifically, this year’s General Assembly acted to:
Invite all Presbyterians to join in prayer for Syria, using this one and others: “Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, as you appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, shine forth in these dark days to show us your way of peace. Put an end to violence and murderous threats. Fill every heart with the Spirit of peace; in your holy name we pray. Amen” (based on Acts 9).
Stand with the Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, our partner church, and other churches who have already themselves helped Christian refugees from Iraq, understanding the dangers that surround religious and other minorities in times of violence.
Encourage Presbyterians to become more fully informed about what is actually happening in Syria and within the peace-seeking efforts of the international community. [Sources of information include – the Presbyterian Office on the Middle East, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and the United Nations News Centre]
Urge the U.S. government
- to support a mediated process of cessation of violence by all perpetrators, including the Assad regime and armed opposition groups,
- to call for all outside parties to cease all forms of intervention in Syria,
- to support a strong and necessary role for the United Nations, possibly including observers and peacekeeping forces, and
- to refrain from military intervention in Syria.
Support full, public congressional debate of any potential U.S. military intervention, including cyberwar, weapons supply, training (as is already reported), and drone warfare, to examine carefully the possible humanitarian benefits, costs, and outcomes of such intervention, including its impacts the Syrian people, and to support review of the impacts of sanctions and other pressure on both Syrian society and the regime.
The people of Syria, including our brothers and sisters in Christ, face great suffering under the escalating fighting between the Assad regime and the armed opposition groups. The international community appears unable to agree on ways to end the violence or to find a path that can lead to a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The UN estimates that between 10,000 and 15,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria since the violence began. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that more and more people are being forced to abandon their homes to seek safety as the violence continues, with hundreds of thousands having already fled to neighboring countries and an estimated one million internally displaced persons.
Areas touched by violence are experiencing shortages of water, food, and medicine. Where such necessities are available, a sharp increase in prices is noted. The lack of security has led many businesses to close, with the result that people have lost their source of income. As many as three million people may stand in humanitarian need.
As believers in Jesus Christ, who declare that our God is “able to find a way when there is no way,” we turn to God in prayer on behalf of all who are suffering and all who seek to respond to the suffering. We ask God to guide the leaders and people of Syria and the international community in paths of peace and justice. And we ask for wisdom as to how we might provide comfort and support.
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency
Neal Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)