Oct 11, 2023 | John W. Coleman

“In the shadows of grief and concern, I reach out to you today regarding the deeply distressing events unfolding in the Middle East,” wrote Bishop John Schol in a letter to EPA&GNJ members today. He lamented the “devastating acts of war by Hamas against Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of innocent lives and the taking of individuals as hostages,” calling them “heartbreaking and incomprehensible.”

The bishop called on everyone and every church to “pray, empathize, learn and be sensitive” to how such aggression and war can impact people. He also gave thanks and prayers for the safety and return home of EPA clergy and laity who were traveling in Israel during the attack. “In this daunting challenge,” he wrote, “let our faith be the beacon that guides us and our congregations to embody Christ’s message of love, hope, and peace.”

The United Methodist Council of Bishops (COB) also condemned the ongoing violence in the Middle East and called for prayer and action in an October 9 letter. COB President Thomas J. Bickerton urged all United Methodists to deepen their commitment to prayer for those injured, abducted or killed and those who have lost loved ones.