British Church Delegation Completes Friendship Mission to Middle-East

A Christian delegation from Churches in Wales has visited the Middle-East recently to learn more about the situation of Christianity and Islam in the Lebanon and Syria regions, and how they affect the areas around them.

|TOP|The eight person delegation also expressed their desire to further friendship with the Middle-East Council of Churches, as well as encouraging links between Wales, Syria and Lebanon.

The visit was a joint venture at the invitation of the Middle East Council of Churches to CYTÛN, the National Council of Churches in Wales, which consists of Catholic, Protestant and Anglican Churches, with the Ukrainian Orthodox Mission in Wales as an active observer.

The General Secretary of CYTÛN, the Revd Gethin Abraham-Williams said, “The twelve-day visit included conversations in Syria and Lebanon with a wide range of Christian, Muslim and government leaders and those with political influence. In Lebanon on 17 March the group visited Khiam Prison Museum and met a former prisoner who described how the prison had been run by the South Lebanese Army, conditions had been dreadful and many people had died following torture.”

He continued, “At the prison the group had arranged a meeting with representatives from Hezbollah. At the beginning of the session, the delegates clearly set out the aim of their visit, to listen and to learn how peace and justice for all may be built in the region. They then listened to Hezbollah’s perspective from Sheikh Nabil Kawook. During the discussion one of the delegates, the Revd Christopher Gillham (Congregational Federation) gave his view, which he stressed was his personal view and that he was not speaking on behalf of the Welsh Churches. He said: “Had I been born in that part of the Lebanon, then I could understand that I would have been a member of Hezbollah.” Christopher Gillham has since been misreported in the media.

|AD|“Neither CYTÛN nor its delegation support terrorist activities in the Middle East or anywhere else. CYTÛN is an active and committed member of the Council of Christians and Jews in Wales and of the Inter-Faith Council for Wales,” Abraham-Williams concluded.

The visit to Lebanon saw conversations take place with His Holiness, Catholicos Aram 1, who is also the former Moderator of the World Council of Churches General Committee.

In Syria a visit was also made to His Excellency President Bashar al Assad and also the Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badruddin Hassoun.

Members of CYTÛN are Churches Together in Wales include: Church in Wales, Presbyterian Church of Wales, United Reformed Church, Methodist Church, Covenanted Baptist Churches of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Roman Catholic Church, the Union of Welsh Independents, the Baptist Union of Wales, the Congregational Federation, the German Speaking Lutheran Church, the Salvation Army, and the Religious Society of Friends.

The eight-member delegation consisted of the following:

The Revd Gethin Abraham-Williams
General Secretary of CYTÛN
Adviser to the World Council of Churches
Member of the National Assembly for Wales Faith Communities Forum

The Revd Dr Peter Baines
Secretary of CYTÛN’s International Forum
Member of CYTÛN’s Governing Body
A former President of the Baptist Union of Wales

Miss Jill Evans MEP
Member of the European Parliament
Vice-President of her Party
A member of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations
with the Palestinian Legislative Council

The Revd Christopher Gillham
Secretary of the Congregational Federation in Wales
Former President of the Congregational Federation of Great Britain
Former Vice-President of CYTÛN
Mayor Elect of the town of Haverfordwest

The Rt Revd Mark Jabale OSB LesL
Bishop of the (Roman Catholic) Diocese of Menevia
Former Abbot of Belmont
Born Alexandria, Egypt and a student at the Lycee Francais, Alexandria

Mrs Sylvia Jackson
United Reformed Church National Synod for Wales representative on
CYTÛN’s International Forum
Nurse and Counsellor

The Revd Robin Morrison
Church in Wales representative on CYTÛN’s International Forum
Advisor to the Bishops of the (Anglican) Church in Wales on Social
Chair of the Institute of Directors in South Wales

The Revd Roy Watson
Methodist Church representative on CYTÛN’s International Forum
Social Responsibility Officer, Methodist Church District
Former Head of Department, Secondary School