Saturday, July 21, 2012

Preamble to KUSA

Dear Friend,

As you now must know, FPI is joining KUSA in helping to move the "ecumenical" (and "evangelical"?) churches to support Kairos USA (KUSA).

So you may familiarize yourselves, please click on to read (download) the whole document.

It gives an accurate portrayal of the realities on the ground. It hears the cry for help from our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine and it lays out a plan for addressing systemic problems.

This is not a formulaic plan. It is a rough outline of how to proceed. It will need input from all of us, discernment, continued patience and touch choices to get the attention of the Israeli (and Palestinian) public that the time for change has come.

The status quo will not hold. JRK


“The crisis is not only in our society. The crisis is in our churches. ... For the churches, too, this is a kairos moment in which we are called to conversion, our structures, values, habits and assumptions in need of basic transformation.”
— “On the Way: From Kairos to Jubilee,” U.S. Kairos document, 1994

“The mission of the Church is prophetic, to speak the Word of God courageously, honestly and lovingly in the local context and in the midst of daily events.”
—“A Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering,” Kairos Palestine document, 2009

In June 2011, a group of U.S. clergy, theologians and laypersons, cognizant of our responsibility as Americans in the tragedy unfolding in Israel and Palestine, and mindful of the urgency of the situation, met to inaugurate a new movement for American Christians. We have been inspired by the prophetic church movements of southern Africa, Central and South America, Asia and Europe that have responded to the call of their Christian sisters and brothers in occupied Palestine. This is our statement of witness and confession—and our response as U.S. Christians to the Palestinian call.

It was in ancient Israel that the prophets called states and peoples to the core principles of God’s rule: equal rights and justice for all, compassion for the most vulnerable and the unity of all humankind. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God as a present possibility and a demand to follow God’s commandments to do justice. The tragic realities of Israel and Palestine today would deeply trouble Jesus and the prophets. The land in which Jesus lived and was crucified by the Roman imperial rulers is again a place of violence, inequality and suffering. Palestinians and Israelis are trapped in a spiral of violence that is destroying their humanity, squandering their resources and killing their children. Palestinians are prisoners in their own land, powerless as Israel’s program of dispossession and annexation continues. Israeli citizens, having endured five wars and intermittent attacks of violence during their brief history as a nation, continue to live with a deep sense of insecurity and a lamentable ignorance of the people with whom they share a love of this land.

The mission of Kairos USA is to mobilize the churches in the United States to respond faithfully and boldly to the situation in Israel and Palestine. In so doing, we heed the call of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Christ to bear witness to their nonviolent struggle for human rights. We also express our love for our brothers and sisters in Israel, who suffer from the social, psychological and spiritual costs of militarization and war. In this way, we stand with Kairos movements throughout the world, lifting up the ideal of nonviolent resistance to injustice in accordance with the teachings of our faith. We call upon our government to be faithful to the principles of universal human rights, equality and justice articulated in its foundational documents, enshrined in international law and expressed in the resolutions of the United Nations.

We acknowledge the tragic history of Christian persecution of Jews. We lament the centuries-long experience of marginalization, oppression and physical threat, culminating in the near total destruction of European Jewry in the last century. We recognize that it was this history of oppression that gave rise to the modern project of the Jewish people to establish a national homeland. We support the right of the Jewish people to live in security and to build a society free of the scourge of anti-Semitism. But the State of Israel’s present course will not bring it the security it seeks nor grant the Jewish people freedom from fear. The still vivid memories and long shadow of the Nazi Holocaust have fueled self-defeating strategies of self-protection among sectors of Israeli society and the Jewish community at large. Violence toward Israelis used by some Palestinians has contributed to the suffering of Israelis and evoked considerable fear and insecurity. But the cause of the current calamity is not the result of any historic or natural enmity between the two peoples, or the presence of deep-seated hatred directed against the Jewish people. Rather, it is the overwhelming imbalance of power, Israel’s practices of state violence, the ongoing abridgement of the human rights of the Palestinian people and the failure of the international community to hold Israel to principles of international law.

We recognize our responsibility as followers of Jesus to honor and protect the image of God in every person. We recall the central role of the church in the Civil Rights movement in our country, when the courage of African-American pastors and laypersons changed the political and social landscape of America. We lift up the example of the South African church when, declaring its Kairos moment in the 1985 Kairos document “Challenge to the Church,” it summoned the church to speak and act against the evil of Apartheid. This action of the South African churches signaled the beginning of the end of the system that had so poisoned their society. Two decades ago, the church in our country, recognizing its Kairos on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus, created “On the Way: From Kairos to Jubilee.” This groundbreaking statement called on the power of the Gospel to acknowledge historic and current injustices to our own indigenous and marginalized peoples as well as our responsibility for injustice and suffering on a global scale. Even as we respond to the invitation to Kairos from our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers, we recognize the ways in which we have failed to respond faithfully to injustice in our own country, and we recommit ourselves to that work in our own context. In our own day, Kairos groups in Europe, Asia and South America have issued their own statements of faith and calls to action in response to the Palestinian document and in witness to the injustices in their own national contexts.

The focus of this Kairos initiative is on Israel and Palestine, reflecting the growing recognition of this longstanding and worsening human rights situation as an urgent challenge to our churches and our world today. At the same time, we are aware that this is only one of many issues facing us as we strive to follow the prophet Micah’s injunction to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.” It is our hope and prayer that the wisdom and courage we bring forth in answering the call for justice in Israel and Palestine will strengthen and deepen our awareness of other ways in which our nation’s political, economic and ethical actions must be brought into harmony with Jesus’ call for a world in which all share in God’s peace.

In the tradition of Kairos statements past and present, this document will focus on three topics, with an additional section on Interfaith Relationships:

Part One: The Signs of the Times
Part Two: Theological Reflections
Part Three: Interfaith Relationships
Part Four: Call to Action


John & Sharon