The diverse group included the Rev Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Jim Wallis, president and chief executive officer, Sojourners; the Rev. Dr. William Shaw, president of National Baptist Convention, Inc.; the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican bishop in Jerusalem; Ambassador Warren Clark, executive director, Churches for Middle East Peace; Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr., founder and senior pastor, North Wood Church; and others. In response to requests from leading members in the Christian community, The Carter Center agreed to host the conference. Planning for the conference began prior to the election of 2008. Anticipating the arrival of a new administration in Washington, the Carter Center's Human Rights Program agreed to convene a conference Towards a New Christian Consensus: Peace with Justice in the Holy Land.
Its purpose would be to present to the new administration the collective conviction and Christian understanding among the participants of the importance of immediate action to seek "peace with justice in the Holy Land".
At the close of the two day conference, the participants crafted a brief letter , which was sent to President Barack Obama Friday. The text of the letter and the names of those who signed it follow:
May 15, 2009
Dear President Obama,
We are a diverse group of Christian leaders convened in Atlanta, who have been meeting for the past two days. As you prepare for meetings with Israeli, Palestinian, and other Arab leaders, we offer you our support, encouragement and commitment. We have heard testimony consistent with the experiences of our churches in the Holy Land about a growing sense of despair. Yet, at this meeting we sense a rising hope. That hope is grounded in the growing consensus across the Christian community that supports a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the new leadership that you bring, both of which will make more possible a real, just, and lasting two-state solution and an end to conflict in the region that upholds the security and freedom of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Our pledge to you is to continue to build constituencies that will advocate for a just political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We request that you call upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to embrace the principle of a two-state solution. As members of your administration have already suggested, we share a concern about how Israeli settlements make that solution less and less possible. Furthermore, we are concerned that a way be found immediately to open the Gaza borders in a manner that respects both humanitarian and security concerns.
We are committed to an ongoing conversation with you about achieving the solution we can no longer postpone. Know that we are praying for you in these critical meetings.
The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, Presbyterian Minister, Executive Director of AMIS, Inc, and Moderator of the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Rev. Dr. Jimmy R. Allen, Coordinator, New Baptist Covenant
The Rev. Dr. Randall C. Bailey, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hebrew Bible, Interdenominational Theological Center
The Rev. Bruce Burnside, Bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Ambassador Warren Clark, Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace
Dr. Elizabeth Corrie, Director of the Youth Theological Initiative and Assistant Professor of Youth Education and Peacebuilding, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
Dr. Joy Fenner, Former President, Baptist General Convention of Texas
James Fine, Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Ms. Beth Fogg, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
The Rev. Dr. David Goatley, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention
Dr. Marsha Snulligan Haney, Professor of Missiology and Religions of the World, Interdenominational Theological Center
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and President, Lutheran World Federation
Lynne Hybels, Advocate for Global Engagement, Willow Creek Community Church
The Rev. Charles Jones, Area Director for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society
The Rev. John McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service
The Rev. Dr. Kathy Nelson, Pastor, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc.
The Rev. Gradye Parsons, General Assembly Stated Clerk for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
The Rev. Canon John L. Peterson, Canon for Global Justice and Reconciliation, Washington National Cathedral
Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr., Founder and Senior Pastor, North Wood Church
Leila Sansour, Executive Director, Open Bethlehem
The Rev. Dr. William Shaw, President of National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Ronald J. Sider, Professor at Palmer Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, and President of Evangelicals for Social Action
The Rev. Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, President, Progressive National Baptist Convention
James M. Wall, Contributing Editor, Christian Century and former Editor
Jim Wallis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sojourners
Ambassador Phil C. Wilcox, Jr., Director, Foundation for Middle East Peace
The Rev. Robina Marie Winbush, Associate Stated Clerk and Director, Department of Ecumenical and Agency Relations, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
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