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Black Clergy Leaders Condemn Hamas; Call for Protection of Innocent Palestinian Civilians

October 17, 2023

Washington, DC ---We vehemently condemn the unspeakable atrocities caused by Hamas against the Jewish people. The devastation and deaths also grieve us and the untold suffering of innocent Palestinians in Gaza, caught in the counter-offensive, who have long suffered human rights violations.

In light of the escalating and devastating conflict between the state of Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, we, as religious leaders, express our deep anguish and sorrow for the countless lives lost and affected by this ongoing violence. As shepherds to our respective flocks, we stand together to emphatically condemn all acts of violence and terrorism, imploring all involved parties to craft a path to peace immediately.

The current devastation in Israel and Gaza has unfolded unimaginable pain and loss, with innocent civilians, including children, tragically caught amidst the destruction. The launch of terrorist atrocities by Hamas and the consequent devastation and despair experienced by those in Gaza are all stark reminders of the unrelenting pain that conflict breeds, and we emphatically condemn it. We acknowledge that our faith traditions recognize traditional just war theories allowing self-defense and defense or rescue of the innocent.

We recognize the deeply entrenched histories and longstanding tensions that have fueled this conflict. While the histories of Israel and the Palestinians are interwoven with pain and struggle, we call for acknowledging our shared humanity, which binds us all, irrespective of our geographical borders and religious affiliations. We earnestly advocate for both sides to seek diplomatic channels that pave the way toward a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region.

We, the undersigned, extend our hands in unity and empathy to:

  1. Uphold the Dignity of Human Life: All lives are invaluable and sacred. The intentional targeting and killing of civilians are indefensible and violate the basic tenets of our faiths and universally accepted ethical norms.

  2. Call for a Path To Peace: We urgently call for a cessation of hostilities and violence from all parties to protect innocent lives, prevent further suffering, and create a space for dialogue and reconciliation.

  3. Support Peaceful Resolutions: Encouraging initiatives aimed at establishing peace, supporting justice, and creating environments conducive to dialogue and understanding between conflicting parties.

  4. Support Humanitarian Pathways and Aid: Mobilize and facilitate the provision of immediate humanitarian aid to all those affected by the conflict, ensuring that necessary resources like food, medical assistance, and shelter are accessible to those in dire need and provide evacuation routes to move the innocent out of harm's way.

  5. Pray for Peace: Extend our prayers and thoughts towards those suffering, perpetuating a collective spiritual support that traverses across borders and conflict lines.

Regarding the sacredness of all lives and acknowledging our ethical and spiritual responsibilities, we beseech all involved to seek peaceful coexistence, steering away from the path of destruction and despair.

Our earnest prayer is that wisdom, compassion, and understanding may guide the leaders and individuals involved in this conflict so they may navigate the path that leads toward lasting peace, healing, and reconciliation in Israel and Gaza.

In unity and peace,

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, Jr., Co-Conveners, National African American Clergy Network

Religious Leaders/Signers Bishop Claude Alexander, Senior Pastor, The Park Church, Charlotte, NC Rev. Dr. Malcolm T. Byrd, D.Min, Pastor, Hope’s Beacon Baptist Church and President & CEO of Forum Philly, Inc. Bishop Timothy J. Clarke, Senior Pastor, First Church of God, Columbus, OH Rev. Joshua Dubois, Values Partnerships, Washington, DC Rev. Sheleta E. Fomby, President, Sequoia Ministries, Inc., Washington, DC Rev. Justin Giboney, President, The AND Campaign, Atlanta, GA Rev. Dr. Etoria V. Goggins, Pastor, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Manassas, VA Dr. Cynthia Hale, Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, Advocacy Director, Presbyterian Church, USA Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Maryland Dr. Bobby Manning, Pastor, The Heights Church, MD, President, The Collective Empowerment Group, Inc. Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Retired Bishop African Methodist Episcopal Church Rev. Dr. Gloria Miller Perrin, Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, MD Pastor Darin Poullard, Fort Washington Baptist Church, Fort Washington, MD Bishop Kenneth Monroe, Presiding Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Bishop Bishop W. Darin Moore. Presiding Prelate of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District of The AME Zion Church Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL Rev. Dr. Dexter Nutall, Senior Pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church, Washington, DC Rev. Teresa "Terri" Hord Owens, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) US & Canada Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, Pastor Emeritus, Greater Christ Baptist Church, Detroit, MI Rev. Dr. Zina Pierre, Senior Pastor, Bethel Restoration Church, Lanham, MD Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart, Senior Pastor, Christ Missionary Baptist Church, Memphis, TN Bishop Talbert W. Swan, II, Director of Social Justice Ministry, Church of God in Christ Bishop Teresa E. Snorton, Ecumenical Bishop, The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Rev. Adam Taylor, President, Sojourners, Washington, DC

Conference of National Black Churches - Signers Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Chair, Conference of National Black Churches Minister Jacqui Burton, President, Conference of National Black Churches Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr., Senior Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Kenneth Monroe, Senior Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Bishop Lawrence Reddick, III, Senior Bishop, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop John Drew Sheard, Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle, Church of God in Christ, Inc. Dr. Jerry Young, President, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Dr. David Peoples, President, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.


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