Dear Bishop Riah,
Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to know that you, your family, your congregations and all the people of the land of the Holy One have been in my prayers and the prayers of this office. We join you and the Archbishop in saying the violence must stop now.
As you may know, I have been appointed as the Interim Anglican Observer at the UN. I will be here until a successor is in place. I do not forget the time we have spent together and our friendship. Once again, I keep you in my prayers.
As Interim Observer at the Anglican United Nations Office, I would like to extend the deep concern of our communion for all parties currently involved in the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Our office joins the international community in condemning this violence and demanding the availability of humanitarian aid and the political support of the nations.
We in the Office of the Anglican Observer to the UN want you to know that you are not alone in your struggle for tolerance and security in the Middle East. Since the most recent fighting has begun, our office has engaged in a variety of peace-building actions.
We sent a letter of condolence to the Lebanese mission to the United Nations expressing our deepest sympathies for the loss of so much innocent life. Our letter to the Israeli Mission to the United Nations condemns the violence that led to the deaths of so many, including three UN peacekeepers, and urges their office to use its unique position in both the Middle East and the international community to alleviate harm inflicted on innocent lives.
In a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan, we extended our condolences for the loss of these observers. The toll of war on the Lebanese infrastructure and all civilian lives, be they Palestinian, Lebanese, or Israeli, is distressing and appalling. Such tragedy makes humanitarian assistance crucial, and the security of these international peacekeepers should also be of the utmost importance.
We have forwarded the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement condemning the violence and extended his prayer for peace, hope and solidarity in the Middle East to all of the 192 missions to the UN here in New York City.
When the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin approved an emergency allocation of £20,000 from Bishops’ Appeal funds to help with the settlement of persons displaced by this current crisis, our office alerted the Lebanese mission, helping to ensure that the funds were allocated to the accredited Christian Aid organization.
Our office has collaborated with the organizations at the Church Center for the United Nations in arranging “End the Violence Week,” a week-long program of peace promotion. It commenced with the unveiling of a forty foot banner positioned on the side of the Church Center building immediately facing the UN building. The banner, which reads “End Violence Now – Pursue Peace!” is endorsed by 28 organizations.
We have come together in solidarity during this week to pray and mediate, but also to work together towards peaceful alternatives to this escalation of violence in the Middle East and around the world. Twenty-five official organizational statements and press releases on the Middle East conflict have been collected and offered at the alter in the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations. These statements were then posted on the walls of the chapel, along with sections of the UN Charter and personal statements and stories from those who were and remain closest to the violence. It is our goal to provide a non-political, neutral space for the UN community, as well as the general public, to come and meditate on the issues, and remain connected to the human aspect of a tragedy that is occurring so far from our shores.
We offer our humble contributions to the struggle, knowing that although at times we all may feel that these efforts are in vain, we must keep the faith that God’s plan will ultimately triumph, and that His plan is peace, solidarity, and love among all nations.
God Bless You,
The Revd Canon Douglas Renegar
Anglican Observer at the United Nations (interim)