The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have continued for several years. The impacts of these wars on both countries, and on the US, have been quite stark in terms of social, political, and economic effects, as well as the most important, the human. With unprecedented spending on the wars, and with no clear end in sight, much continues to be written about the wars, mostly in the form of political critique. In this particular case, we cannot deny that the US has a great responsibility for the uprooted lives of literally millions of people—people for whom we and our partner churches are trying to care in a variety of ways. Much should be spent on rehabilitation and relief, of people and of the countries affected—not the perpetuation of conflict. The well-being of the people to live in security and safety with functioning and reliable infrastructure must be guaranteed.
The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have been outspoken about war, particularly the war in Iraq, most recently in the form of the UCC Collegium of Officers' Pastoral Letter on the Iraq War and the ensuing 100,000 Peace: Join Prayer to Protest campaign, and the Disciples' 2007 General Assembly resolution The Church's Response to the War in Iraq and the Disciples' General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins' Pastoral Letter about the War in Iraq.
Our churches have a particular competence to speak on the situation due to ongoing relationships with churches and other partners in the Middle East, special ministries of healing and relief for the people of Iraq who have been negatively impacted by the war, and of course, the fact that members of the UCC and Disciples have been deployed to serve in the armed forces in the Middle East, both as soldiers and as military chaplains.
The purpose of the resource is to draw attention to aspects of the war that are not often treated in other places. This resource gives church partners in the Middle East a chance to offer reflections from their perspectives (a number of contributions come from partners); it helps us to learn more about the impact on Iraqis who have been forced from their homes and are now living as refugees or internally displaced and the efforts by Middle Eastern and US churches to address this problem; it gives us a chance to understand the issues of chaplains and soldiers in various stages of their involvement and what can be done in the context of local congregations to offer care for them and for their families; and it offers ideas about advocacy and public policy. In addition, it provides a section on peace and war that delves into the basic issues from theological and biblical points of view.
This resource has taken some time to come to fruition. It has depended on thoughtful reflection and contributions from people across our two denominations and from around the world. We hope that this resource—even parts of it—will be of some value to everyone who visits the site. While the situation changes every day, many of the issues remain the same. And while this resource focuses primarily on the Iraq war, we do not in any way wish to shift focus away from Afghanistan, or other places around the world where there is unresolved conflict.
Our prayer is for peaceful and just resolution to war and conflict. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
—Peter Makari, January 2009