December 4, 2003

 Churches for Middle East Peace Email Network

RE:  National Interreligious Leadership Initiative

This action alert is also posted on our website at:


At a December 2 press conference in Washington, Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders urged the Bush Administration and Congress to more actively engage in a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Senator Lincoln Chafee and Rep. Amo Houghton came to the press conference. The delegation had sought, but was denied, a meeting with President Bush or National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.


The delegation declared that it is united in support of a viable, independent, democratic Palestinian state alongside the existing state of Israel with enduring peace and security for both sides.  They announced that they will mobilize their constituencies to press for U.S. leadership in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.


Some of the leaders of the national churches and organization affiliated with CMEP are involved in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative. Among the 32 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders that made up the group as of December 2 are:


His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington;

His Eminence, William Cardinal Keeler. Archbishop of Baltimore;

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate, Greek Orthodox Church in America;

Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;

Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Secretary, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church;

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold III, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church, USA;

The Reverend John H. Thomas, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ;

The Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church, USA


Spokespersons at the Dec. 2 press conference included Cardinal McCarrick and Bishops Rader and Hanson.  ELCA Bishop Hanson said, “We have no choice but to come to Washington DC., today; for we believe working together for peace with justice in the Middle East reflects a central moral imperative of our common Abrahamic faith.”  Cardinal McCarrick said, “Israelis and Palestinians are the ones who must create a just peace, but the United States has a moral obligation to use its powerful influence to help them do this.”


Other delegation members at the press conference were:

The Rev. John M. Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, Christian Century and representing Presbyterian Church;

David Neff, Editor and Vice-President, Christianity Today (and Evangelical Church community);

Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President, Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform);

Catherine Gordon, Washington Office of PCUSA, representative for The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick;

Rabbi Amy Small, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association;

Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, Board of Trustees, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform);

Dawud A. Assad, Former President, Council of Mosques, USA;

Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director & Director of Interfaith Relations, United Muslims of America;

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder, American Sufi Muslim Association;

Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America.


The press release, the list of the delegation, the delegation’s letter to the President, the joint statement, and the 12 “urgent steps needed on the road to peace”, will all be available on their website in a few days:


Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Mission Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM) .  For further information, see