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Christian Churches Together Urges President to Support Abducted Syrian Bishops

Letter sent to President Obama

June 11, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write you as leaders of Christian Churches Together in the USA, an organization comprised of 43 denominations and organizations representing the full spectrum of Christian faith - Catholic, historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal, Orthodox, and Historic Black churches. We wish to share with you our deepest concern over the kidnapping of two prominent archbishops in Syria, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo. As you know, they have been missing since April 22, and the driver of their car, a deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church, was killed.

The members of our churches and organizations deeply lament the ongoing and horrible tragedy in Syria, with the deaths of tens of thousands, the displacement of millions, and the bitter sectarian hostility which seems to grow daily. Our prayers for comfort are with all who suffer, and our prayers for wisdom and courage are with all who are working for peace.

But we are addressing you in particular about the fate of these two courageous and well-loved Archbishops in Syria because of what they mean to the Christian community in that country and around the world. While we understand that there may be limitations on what the U.S. government can do directly to secure their release, we also know that the U. S. and its allies have considerable influence with a number of governments and factions on the ground who could make a difference in the fate of these two kidnapped church leaders. The fact that they were traveling on a humanitarian mission makes this matter all the more tragic and horrific.

Therefore, we respectfully urge you to do everything within your power to work with others in the international community for the release of Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim. For our part, we will seek to work with religious leaders in the region who may have some influence with those holding the two bishops.

Please know that our prayers, and those of millions, accompany you in all efforts to end the senseless violence and destruction that continues to engulf Syria and its people.

Respectfully yours,

Rev. Stephen Thurston - Moderator
President Historic Black Family
National Baptist Convention, USA

Bishop Denis Madden
President Catholic Family
Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
President Orthodox Family
Armenial Orthodox Church America

Rev. Gary Walter - President
Evangelical/Pentecostal Family
Evangelical Covenant Church

Ms. Wendy McFadden
President Historic Protestant Family
Church of the Brethren

Rev. Carlos L. Malavé
Executive Director CCT