This Lenten season, the World Council of Churches (WCC) invites its member churches to pray on Sunday 29 March for those affected by wars in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt. The season of prayer is meant to revive hope from hopelessness, taking into account the vulnerability of minority communities and the threat of losing the diversity of the social fabric in this region.
“Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, in a letter of invitation to prayer addressed to the churches, issued on 24 March.
“Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always cross, always resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife,” he added.
In the Middle East, the WCC general secretary said, “unbearable atrocities have been committed by state and non-state armed groups” – mainly in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt.
“The religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region,” Tveit said.
He invited the churches to use a common prayer for peace in Syria and beyond through liturgical resources made available on the WCC website. These prayers may be adapted according to the different calendars, liturgical styles and church traditions.