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Presbyterian UN Office addresses U.S.-Iran tensions

Ministry sends letter to Security Council members stating Presbyterian position on conflict

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Ryan Smith, at right, director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and Representative to the UN, spoke at the Church Center for the United Nations in March 2019. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations is sending out a letter today to let the UN Security Council know the church’s view on recent tensions between the United States and Iran.

“As Christians, we are reminded of the promise of our scriptures in Isaiah 2:4, ‘He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore,’” the letter says, in part.

Ryan Smith, director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and Representative to the UN, said that the letter is going to the ambassadors of the 15 member states of the UN Security Council.

“The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations brings the voice of Presbyterians to decision-makers within the United Nations system,” Smith said. “This letter communicates the will of the Church through our General Assembly that stands for justice and peace with both the people of the United States and the people of Iran. “

Smith said the Security Council is the appropriate body to approach because of its role in maintaining and restoring international peace and security.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran reached a boiling point last week when the United States military carried out a targeted assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani through a drone strike. The White House said the action was necessary to prevent imminent attacks on Americans, though questions have been raised about the threats and whether Soleimani’s death would have any impact on them.

Iran retaliated with missile strikes on American assets in Iraq Tuesday night, resulting in no casualties. Wednesday, both sides said they did not want to pursue further military conflict.

Here is the full text of the letter:

9 January 2020

Your Excellency:

I write this letter to express my concern regarding the military actions taken by the United States of America and Iran. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seeks peace and we are concerned that without the diplomatic help of the global community, war may persist. As Christians, we are reminded of the promise of our scriptures in Isaiah 2:4, “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Our Church has stood faithfully advocating justice and peace in both the United States of America and Iran. The 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

  • Affirms the value of respectful understanding and reducing tensions with the government and 82 million people of Iran of whom two-thirds are Persian and one-third a variety of ethnicities and non-Shiite Muslim religious traditions, including Christians —some of whom will suffer from association with unwise actions by Western nations.
  • Opposes punitive sanctions on U.S. and European-based non-military companies and nongovernmental organizations as ultimately ineffective, if not counterproductive.
  • Opposes efforts to increase hostilities with Iran, which do not seem to serve U.S. interests.

We join the Secretary General in his call to “stop escalation; exercise maximum restraint; re-start dialogue; [and] renew international cooperation.”

Faithfully,

Ryan D. Smith

Director & Representative to the United Nations

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering to continue the valuable ministry of the Presbyterian Mission at the United Nations.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.


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