General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, in consultation with Presiding Co-Clerks, Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch and Frank Barch, joined over 100 Christian leaders of the governing board of the National Council of Churches in Christ in signing an open letter to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, asking him to speak out against his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The letter, sent to Kirill today, March 11, laments the “tragic and terrible loss of innocent civilian life” and includes an “earnest plea that you use your voice and profound influence to call for an end to the hostilities and war in Ukraine and intervene with authorities in your nation to do so.”
His Holiness Kirill is Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, the country’s dominant religious group.“In this moment, as the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, you have the holy opportunity to play an historic role in helping to bring a cessation of senseless violence and a restoration of peace,” the US Christian leaders wrote in their letter. “We pray you will do so, and our prayers will accompany you.”
The full text of the letter follows (not including the list of signatories)
His Holiness Kirill
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Russian Orthodox Church
We write you as brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of us have worked with you in fellowship in ecumenical settings. All of us serve in various positions of leadership and service in churches and Christian organizations. We know well the heavy responsibilities and challenges which rest on you, and all those called by God to be shepherds and servants of God’s people.
With broken hearts, we are making an earnest plea that you use your voice and profound influence to call for an end to the hostilities and war in Ukraine and intervene with authorities in your nation to do so. We all are witnessing the tragic and terrible loss of innocent civilian life and the grave dangers of escalation posing the deepest threats to peace in the world. Moreover, we grieve for the ways the body of Christ is being torn asunder by warring factions. The peace desired by our common Lord demands that this immoral warfare end, halting the bombing, shelling, and killing, and withdrawing armed forces to their previous boundaries.
We make this appeal with no political agenda. Before God, we bear witness that there is no religious justification from any side for the destruction and terror the world is witnessing daily. Our first allegiance is always to our Lord Jesus Christ. This transcends the narrow claims of all nations and ideologies.
We are in the season of Lent. In that Lenten spirit, we ask you to prayerfully reconsider the support you have given to this war because of the horrendous human suffering it has unleashed.
In this moment, as the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, you have the holy opportunity to play an historic role in helping to bring a cessation of senseless violence and a restoration of peace. We pray you will do so, and our prayers will accompany you.
Respectfully Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ