(Portland, Oregon, May 10, 2016) United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine (“UMCPIP”) held a press conference on the opening day of the United Methodist General Conference (“GC”) to urge rejection of divestment from Israel. Instead of divestment, UMCPIP is advocating for more peaceful, moderate, and productive approaches.
UMCPIP is supporting a resolution which encourages the UMC to invest in companies which themselves are involved in peacemaking and cooperative efforts between Israelis and Palestinians or which make financial donations to non-profits working for peace and reconciliation in the region. UMCIPIP is also supporting a resolution calling on the UMC to lobby the United States government to take a more proactive role in the peace process and for the Church to invest money in helping build a viable Palestinian state.
According to Rev. Dan Bryant, District Superintendent of the Mahoning Valley District of the East Ohio Annual Conference and a GC delegate, “The United Methodist Church has to find real strategies to end this conflict. Strategies that will go to the root causes of the conflict. Strategies that build up weak parties, rather than tear down stronger ones. Strategies that encourage peacemaking. I think these approaches are far more wholesome and certainly far more Christian than divestment.”
Rev. Alex Joyner, Superintendent of the Eastern Shore District in the Virginia Conference and GC reserve delegate, said “when we see righteousness in one party only…when we choose up sides and elevate one narrative of the conflict to truth and don’t seek the new, shared narrative that will allow for peace…then we have chosen the path of division and continued mistrust that only contributes to perpetuating the conflict.”
Bonnie Marden, head of the New England delegation added: “I believe United Methodists must extend more peaceful acts to both Palestinians and Israelis so that their visions for constructive co-existence can replace the fear and anger dividing them. Any other actions on our part are doomed to simply reinforce the angry, fearful and violent forces sustaining this conflict and trapping all parties in their rigid polarized positions.”