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NCC, Member Communions Together Call for Peace Between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Support US diplomacy to End Violent Conflict

The National Council of Churches, USA reiterates its lament and deep concern about the continuing conflict and rapidly deteriorating situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, known by its Armenian residents as Artsakh. In the last three weeks, since the NCC issued an earlier statement and prayer, the people of the region have continued to be victims of Azerbaijani aggression, and a violation of the cease fire agreement brokered by Russia and supported by the United States and others. The NCC supports the new cease-fire agreement brokered by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo between the parties – Armenia and Azerbaijan – as a first step towards ending the conflict. We pray that it will bring peace to Artsakh, and urge that this new cease fire agreement be observed immediately, even while a more robust resolution of the conflict is being pursued.

Of particular concern is that this conflict has revealed again the heavy hand of other regional powers to fuel belligerency. Several nations, including Turkey, Israel, and the United States, have provided military arms (including weaponry, drones, and strategic support) to Azerbaijan (a former Soviet republic); and Russia, which has a military base in Armenia (also a former Soviet Republic), has interests in Armenia’s security. Leaders of the nation of Armenia have appealed to regional and global powers to use their leverage to bring peace and relief. The militarization of the area has only served the interests of outside powers, and not the interest of the people who live there.

Let us be clear: there can be no military solution. We urge the US, the International Community, and indeed all involved, to intensify efforts to bring an immediate end to the current crisis, and to resolve outstanding issues in a just manner so that Armenia and Azerbaijan may live in peace as neighbors. We implore outside powers to end their military interference in the region so as to reduce the flow of arms and avoid future armed conflict. Finally, we state our deep and sincere concern for the people of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, who are Armenian by heritage, recognizing that they are the victims of this continuing conflict, and advocate strongly for their safety, security, and protection.

As churches that enjoy close and longstanding ties with the Armenian Apostolic Church – which is also a member of the NCC – and the Armenian Evangelical (Protestant) churches, we hear their persistent cries, and offer our collective support.

Appended Signatures of the Communions

Kimberly Gordon Brooks, The African Methodist Episcopal Church; At-Large Member, NCC Governing Board

Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Interim General Secretary, American Baptist Churches, USA

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. David A. Steele, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Apostle Barbara L Carter, Member of Council of Twelve Apostles, Community of Christ

Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Northeast American Diocese of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, President, Moravian Church Northern Province

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

Rev. Jane Siebert, President, The Swedenborgian Church United States and Canada

Rev. Richard Tafel, Swedenborgian Church

Dionysius Jean Kawak, Archbishop, Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church for the Eastern USA

Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ; and NCC Board Chair

Bishop Sally Dyck, Ecumenical Officer, United Methodist Church