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UCCtruths

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Fair Witness denies misleading statements, still encouraged by resolution

Saturday, June 30, 2007

From the Christian Fair Witness news release on Religion News Service:
Fair Witness Reaffirms Its Statement Regarding UCC General Synod’s Resolution

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East stands by its June 27 press release regarding the United Church of Christ’s (“UCC”) General Synod’s resolution “In Support of a Renewed and Balanced Study and Response to the Conflict Between Palestine and Israel.”

According to Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president, Fair Witness issued “misleading statements” about the resolution.

“We did no such thing,” says Sr. Ruth Lautt, National Director of Fair Witness, “and we stand by our public statement, which referred solely to the ‘be it resolved’ and ‘whereas’ clauses of the resolution.”

“In his statement, which appears on the UCC website, Rev. Thomas asserts that the ‘be it resolved’ clauses are the only binding parts of the resolution and thus suggests that by invoking the ‘whereas’ section, Fair Witness is somehow misleading the public,” says Dexter Van Zile, UCC layperson and member of Fair Witness’s Executive Committee.

However, a cursory perusal of the minutes from previous UCC General Synods (available online on the UCC website) demonstrates that the “whereas” clauses are entered into the General Synod’s official Synod minutes and included in the denomination’s historical record. Moreover, the whereas section of the resolution is part of the “text of the motion.” (Standing Rules for the 26th General Synod, April 24, 2006: 12(C) (4)(d))

Fair Witness stated in the June 27th press release that the resolution was “an acknowledgment that the General Synod’s previous Divestment and Tear Down the Wall resolutions were not balanced.” This was clearly reflected in the second “whereas” clause of the resolution which states that the Divestment and Tear Down the Wall resolutions “focus[ed] on the actions of Israel” and that the church has “yet to fully address other forces contributing to the ongoing violence, oppression and suffering in the region.”

The fourth “whereas” clause refers to intra-Palestinian violence and the sixth “whereas” clause expressly acknowledges that the UCC “may have overlooked many aspects” of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This was also reflected in Fair Witness’s June 27th press release.

Fair Witness referred to and commended the establishment of a Task Force “to engage in ongoing and balanced study” of the conflict and to assist the church in acquiring “a deeper understanding of the situation.” This comes directly from the third “be it resolved” clause.

“Rev. Thomas would have us believe that the resolution does not mean what it says,” said UCC Minister and Fair Witness Executive Committee member Rev. Suzanne Wagner. “His accusation of ‘sloppy journalism’ and ‘ideologically driven misrepresentations’ are incorrect and unfair as applied to Fair Witness.”

After reading the statement on the UCC website, Sr. Lautt now encourages the denomination’s leaders to widen its information base about the conflict. “We are very pleased to note Rev. Thomas’s affirmation that UCC policy includes support for ‘peace and security’ for both Israelis and Palestinians and condemnation of violence on both sides,” she said. “We would suggest however, that the UCC’s position be informed not only by mission relationships with Palestinian Christians, as Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte stated, but by relationships with all God’s people in the Middle East. This will help bring about the balance that this resolution calls for.”
posted by UCCtruths, Saturday, June 30, 2007

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