The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion joined his counterparts in the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council, as well as global and regional ecumenical leaders to issue a joint pastoral letter to the Churches and People of Ethiopia.
The letter was sent in response to the ongoing conflict between the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Ethiopian National Defence Force in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and parts of neighbouring Eritrea. Casualty figures are disputed. One regional news agency claimed 10,000 Tigrayan casualties. Humanitarian agencies report a death toll of several thousand; while the Ethiopian government reports 1,000 dead.
In their letter, the Church leaders say: “we send to you Christian love and care from your sisters and brothers in different parts of the world, representing churches, church-related organisations, and networks committed to accompanying you, the churches and people of Ethiopia, in facing the challenges confronting your country.
“We join you in grieving for the deaths, injuries, displacement and divisions resulting from the tragic conflict in the northern part of the country. We are deeply concerned about the hardship and loss inflicted on the civilian population, especially the most vulnerable including women, children and the physically challenged.
“We commiserate with all who have lost loved ones because of this crisis and pray for God’s comfort in their grief. We lament the fact that this conflict has added heavily to the constellation of concurrent crises already afflicting the people of Ethiopia – including the attacks targeting specific ethnic and religious groups, regional tensions associated with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the worst locust plague in 25 years, serious impacts on food production, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The work of the churches and church-related organisations responding to human suffering and need, and seeking to promote peace, reconciliation and unity is greatly needed in these exceptionally challenging times. We convey our solidarity and commitment to support and accompany the churches of Ethiopia as you seek to fulfil your prophetic ministry for justice, peace and human dignity.
“We encourage you to continue inviting the people of Ethiopia to choose peaceful ways to address conflicts and differences. And we pray that you be granted strength and wisdom to minister to the people of Ethiopia in this hour of need.
“Be assured of our prayers for all the people of Ethiopia. As disciples of Christ and as partners in Christ’s mission, we are bound together by love and compassion, especially for such moments as these, to share each other’s pain, and to lift each other up. We pray with you for an end to the conflict, the safe return of those who have been displaced, and for an inclusive reconciliation process that will lead to sustainable peace for all in Ethiopia. May the overcoming power of our Lord Jesus Christ uphold your faith together.”
The letter (which can be read in full here) was signed by
- The Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon
The Anglican Communion
- The Revd Dr Martin Junge
The Lutheran World Federation
- The Revd Chris Ferguson
The World Communion of Reformed Churches
- Bishop Ivan M Abrahams
The World Methodist Council
- The Revd Professor Dr Ioan Sauca
Interim General Secretary
The World Council of Churches
- Mr Rudelmar Bueno de Faria
The ACT Alliance
- The Revd Dr Fidon Mwombeki
The All Africa Conference of Churches
- Ms Jeannette Uwizeye
The Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches
in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa