Written by Gregg Brekke
In their first action on a resolution, delegates to General Synod 27 expressed concern for refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq who have been forced from their homes and are living "with much uncertainty and hopelessness."
By unanimous vote, the delegates asked all settings of the United Church of Christ to continue "to raise awareness of the impact of the Iraq war" by advocating for a clearer recognition in the United States "for our country's responsibility for the humanitarian crisis the war has caused."
The action also called for "significant increases and expedited processing to offer resettlement of refugees in the United States."
The resolution was presented to delegates by the Rev. John Deckenback, minister of the Central Atlantic Conference, who had recently visited the Middle East to review the conditions of Iraqi refugees there. In addition, it heard from Mr. Samer Laham, the director of a partner agency in Syria related to the UCC's Wider Church Ministries. Mr. Laham, who is a staff member of the Middle East Council of Churches and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, pled with delegates to work for "a final and durable solution to Iraq and its numerous refugees."
The Synod encouraged UCC members to support the humanitarian relief efforts of its international partners who care for Iraqi refugees currently living in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Delegates also affirmed the UCC's commitment to refugee resettlement and to support for the rights of refugees "scattered throughout the Middle East and all over the world" to safe repatriation or resettlement with compensation for their losses.