The tragedy of Syria is mind-numbing. Since the 2011 peaceful protests turned into violent struggle and proxy wars, 1 in 10 Syrians has been killed or wounded; half the population has been made homeless; millions have fled their homeland, becoming refugees in surrounding countries; and over a million have made the perilous trip to Europe seeking asylum. Christian and Muslim citizens suffer together, and amid the suffering our Presbyterian partners of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon continue their witness and work for peace. Their counsel lies at the heart of this Overture that will be considered at the 2018 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
223rd General Assembly: Overture 10
RESPONDING TO THE CURRENT SYRIAN CRISIS
The Presbytery of the Cascades overtures the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the PC(USA) to respond to the crisis in Syria focused on four principal goals: stop the killing; work for reconciliation; alleviate the suffering; and deepen PC(USA) partnership with Syrian Christians.
Stop the Killing:
A. Direct the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to send a message to the President of the United States, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and to each United States Senator and Representative to use all diplomatic means, in cooperation with other major parties in the Syrian crisis, to bring about a durable ceasefire, in tandem with a cessation of military support to any participant in the conflict.
Work for Reconciliation:
B. As a part of the necessary work of Syrian reconciliation, direct the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to communicate to the United States government and other parties involved the need to contribute fully to the humanitarian, human rights, and peace-building work of the United Nations. Encourage the United Nations to cooperate fully with these efforts, to involve civil society wherever possible, and to advocate measures to stabilize a more just world order in this region, encouraging nonviolent coexistence among religious and ethnic groups. Direct the Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC, and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations to support this witness in their work.
Alleviate the Suffering:
C. Direct the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), Presbyterian World Mission, and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to call on congregations and presbyteries, non-profit organizations, the United States government, and agencies of the United Nations, to provide robust financial support for organizations engaged in alleviating the suffering of Syrians, especially those displaced inside Syria and those now living as refugees in neighboring countries.
D. Direct the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to call on the United States government to reopen Syrian refugees’ entry into the United States and substantially expand the number of refugees admitted. Encourage the United States to maintain a more generous policy toward refugees based on our identity as a pluralistic nation.
E. Direct the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to call on the United States Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, to review and revise the current program of economic sanctions on Syria so as to reduce their painful impact on ordinary Syrian families and on religious, civic, educational and medical bodies unassociated with any form of terrorism.
Deepen our Partnership with Syrian Christians:
F. Direct Presbyterian World Mission to provide an annotated list of media sources about events in Syria and the situation of PC(USA)’s Christian partners.
G. Encourage PC(USA) pastors and congregations to build personal contacts and partnerships with Syrians: covenant to pray regularly for congregations in Syria, make visits to Syria, and develop relationships with Syrians in the United States. Encourage congregations to work with Syrian refugees now in the United States, to help and encourage them in ways that express Christian love.
Presbyteries that have concurred with Presbytery of the Cascades to bring this Overture to General Assembly include:
New York City
Synod of the Covenant, which includes the Presbyteries of:
- Lake Huron
- Lake Michigan
- Maumee Valley
- Miami Valley
- Scioto Valley
- Western Reserve