‘Dear friends in Iran’

MCC leaders offer solidarity amid rising tensions

Jan 27, 2020 by and

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The executive directors of Mennonite Central Committee U.S. and MCC Canada sent the following letter Jan. 9.

Dear friends of Mennonite Central Committee in Iran:

We write to you in solidarity and friendship at a time of great military tension. With the biblical prophet, we lament that “destruction and violence are before [us]; strife and contention arise” (Habakkuk 1:3, NRSV). As followers of Jesus we are deeply committed to peace.

Mohammad Ali Shomali, director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies, and J Ron Byler, MCC U.S. executive director, display a wall hanging Shomali gave to MCC during a 2014 MCC learning tour that visited MCC’s partners and friends in Iran. — Cheryl Zehr Walker/MCC

Mohammad Ali Shomali, director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies, and J Ron Byler, MCC U.S. executive director, display a wall hanging Shomali gave to MCC during a 2014 MCC learning tour that visited MCC’s partners and friends in Iran. — Cheryl Zehr Walker/MCC

Since 1990, Mennonite Central Committee staff and friends have been privileged to enter with you and other Iranians into spaces of dialogue, learning and friendship. Over the years, our understanding and commitment to the gospel have been deepened by conversations with you about theology and faith. MCC staff have seen firsthand the beauty and richness of your ancient culture.

Throughout all these years, there have also been strife and tension between the governments of the United States and Iran, which now have reached an unprecedented level. Our hearts are deeply troubled by the aggressive actions taken by the U.S. government and the potential for this to continue to escalate into further violence. We recognize the fear and grief this is causing for many Iranian families across the globe.

We continue to pray and work fervently for peace and understanding between our countries and peoples. We are actively encouraging actions that take us away from violence and toward a negotiated peace. We know that our well-being is inseparable from yours.

Human beings are members of one another
All created from the same precious jewel.
When, in the course of life,
Pain comes to a member,
The other members cannot remain at peace.
When you do not grieve at the suffering of others
You cannot be called by the name “human.”
— Persian poet Sa’adi Shirzai (1210-91)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. . . .
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
— Romans 12:15-16, 18

In faith and hope for a more peaceful future,

J Ron Byler, executive director, MCC U.S.
Rick Cober Bauman, executive director, MCC Canada

MC USA endorses statement renouncing U.S. ‘aggression’

At least 35 churches and faith-based organizations signed a statement renouncing “the United States’ dangerous aggression toward Iran, including the assassination of Gen. Qassem Solei­mani and the deployment of additional troops to the region.”

The statement urges the Trump administration to step back from the brink of war and “work toward lasting peace with Iran.”

“Our faith communities see the futility of war, and its power to dehumanize,” it says. “We know that human flourishing entails breaking cycles of violence, being courageous peacemakers and focusing on the root causes of conflict. Violent conflict is a path of mutual destruction.”

The statement calls for both nations to move forward in a way that upholds human dignity, halting violent attacks and returning to a diplomatic process.

Congress “must act to reassert its war powers by refusing authorization for war with Iran and related attacks and to block funding for war with Iran,” it says. “U.S. actions and strategy in the region must address the root causes of the conflict, such as distrust, trauma, economic resources and political influence.”

As of Jan. 6, signers also included Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Church of the Brethren and Mennonite Central Committee U.S. — Mennonite Church USA


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