Prayers and statements on violence in Israel and Gaza

October 12, 2023

Churches are responding with prayers and statements to the violence in Israel and Gaza:

O God of all
Of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael:
Our hearts are broken in pieces at the suffering and murder of your people.
Our voices cry for peace and for justice.

Comfort those who grieve,
Console and heal the injured,
Be close to those in fear,
Restrain with your mighty hand those who perpetrate violence.

Send us your wisdom in all that we say and do,
That our voice may always seek justice, peace and security for all.

Revd Peter Colwell, Deputy General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Baptist Union of Great Britain

A message from Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain:

I am certain, like me, many of you have been watching the news this week and have been overwhelmed with emotion at what is unfolding in Israel and the Palestinian territories. At times like this, as the world analyses the developing situation, comments on the complex history of the region and makes statements of sympathy or blame, my hope is that those of us who put our faith in God will see past the politics and the history, and have the courage to stare into the eyes of all those who suffer and see both their humanity and the reflection of Christ, who knows both the land and the suffering intimately. As you do that, please join me in prayer, to the God of all comfort, peace and hope.

A Prayer for the Israeli and Palestinian People

Lord God,
It is with shock and horror we witness the devastating violence and loss of life in Israel-Palestine over recent days.

We come to you as the source of all comfort
asking that you send your Spirit to surround and uphold
all those who are grieving,
all those who are suffering,
all those in fear,
and all those in captivity.
May the arms of comfort and compassion, overwhelm the arms of war.

We come to you as the source of all peace
asking that you send your Spirit to
strengthen and uphold those pursuing an end to violence,
embolden those with a heart for truth and justice,
and amplify voices of wisdom and restraint.
May the light of peace and reconciliation, overwhelm the darkness of destruction.

We come to you as the source of all hope,
asking that you send your Spirit to bring about a future,
where neighbours embrace despite their differences,
where love conquers hate,
humility surpasses pride,
and where forgiveness is treasured as a fundamental strength.
May the hope of a day when weapons of conflict will be transformed into tools of reconciliation be realised soon,
so there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away.

Please see the Baptists Together website

Catholic Church in England and Wales

Preaching at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Marylebone, Cardinal Vincent Nichols asked the faithful to pray for peace in the aftermath of a surprise attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel from Gaza.

The incursion has resulted in hundreds of deaths and reports of dozens of hostages captured. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is “at war”. Retaliatory strikes have killed hundreds in Gaza.

Cardinal Nichols said: “Today I ask your prayers that, at the intercession of Mary, the Holy Spirit may be a bringer of peace in the conflicts spreading at this time in Israel and Gaza. Having visited Gaza on two occasions, my heart goes out to its people who will now bear the consequences of the attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

“Violence is never a solution. Retribution is never a contribution to peace. Please pray today for that peace. Pray for all who have lost their lives and for the immediate release of those taken hostage.

“Pray especially for the small but active Catholic community in Gaza City who at this moment will be reaching out courageously to their neighbours, trying to offer shelter and support. Today please pray the great prayer of the Rosary that this conflict, in the homeland of Mary herself, will quickly come to an end.”

Please see the Catholic Church website.

Church of Ireland

Archbishop John McDowell and Archbishop Michael Jackson have asked all members of the Church of Ireland to pray for peace in the Holy Land, and emergency humanitarian funds have been released to the sister church in the region, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem:

The rapidly escalating and degenerating situation in Israel and Palestine awakens within us our deep compassion for our brothers and sisters of all faiths in the Land of the Holy One. Where lives are lost through military attack and response, humanity in its entirety is diminished. We all grieve.

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have called for peace and justice amidst unfolding violence. They have unequivocally condemned any acts that target civilians, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or faith. They have called on the international community to redouble its efforts to mediate a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.

The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal for World Aid and Development is releasing €10,000 (equivalent to £8,650) in emergency funds to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The Diocese includes 7,000 Anglicans worshipping within 28 congregations in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. It is responsible for more than 30 institutions, including hospitals, schools, clinics, rehabilitation centres, guesthouses, and retirement homes. The Diocese runs Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza which provides medical care and support to all people, regardless of their faith or ethnicity.

We urge the people of the Church of Ireland to pray for peace in the Land of the Holy One and pray for wisdom for those in positions of authority to work towards an end to all violence. We uphold to God in prayer all who are affected by the current conflict. All human life is the gift of God. The Church of Ireland, in its daily prayers, prays for people suffering in conflict, those who seek to bring care and relief, and the peace of the world.

A Prayer for the Peace of the World – from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed; Kindle, we pray thee, in every heart the true love of peace; and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Please see the Church of Ireland website.

Church of England

Church of Scotland

Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has issued a statement:

“I reach out to you all, as we continue to grapple with the shattering violence unfolding in Israel and Gaza, and to ask for your prayers and your action.

“Across Scotland, our Jewish friends, neighbours and colleagues grieve the loss of loved ones following the devastating terrorist attacks we witnessed unfolding over the weekend, worry for friends and family who have been kidnapped and fear the possibility of increased antisemitism in their own neighbourhoods as tensions rise across the world.

“In Scotland, our friends with family in Gaza mourn the loss of loved ones, worry for those unable to find safety or a place of refuge and fear an even more uncertain future.

“Together we agonise, yet again, over peace gone to pieces. We desperately try to fathom how we can be any comfort to the members of our global family trapped in the middle of such a barrage of violence and fear. We are appalled by the horrifying levels of brutality and the inhumanity of mass murder scenes of which were broadcast across our screens in horrifying, gut-wrenching detail.

“We call for calm and active consideration for the innocent civilians who are suffering in Israel and Gaza. Peace in our world can never come through violence. Peace in our spirits can never come through revenge.

“So, what can we do in the face of war?

“If you pray, pray from your guts, not your lips – offer a prayer that moves in you and through you – one that calls you to reach out to a fearful neighbour, to speak up for peace and calm and the unity of humanity.

“Pray for all those many people injured and those mourning the loss of loved ones and those living in abject fear who await news of family members missing.

“Wherever you are, check in on your Jewish neighbours, friends and colleagues.

“Wherever you are, check in on your neighbours, friends and colleagues who have family in Gaza.

“Wherever you are, be mindful of your words. Tarring with a broad brush adds more fuel to the fire, so be kind to one another wherever you find each other.

“The Zulu phrase, Ubuntu, is the theme for my year as Moderator and its challenging truth resonates powerfully today. ‘I am because you are.’ We are one global family. When we look into the face of another human being, God looks out from the windows of their souls. Today, love God by loving each other.”
Please see the Church of Scotland website which includes a prayer for peace.
On 8 October 2023, Rev David Cameron, Convener of the Assembly Trustees on the Israel Gaza Conflict gave this message:

“We are horrified by the situation currently occurring in Israel and Gaza, and the wider areas. The sudden attack by Hamas on Israel, 50 years and a day after the Yom Kippur War, came at a time when many Israelis were celebrating the end of the festival of Succot.

“At this time, our prayers are for all of those affected by these horrendous events. They are with the families of those killed, both in Israel and in Gaza. They are with those who have been taken hostage. They are with those dealing with the decisions to be made in the days ahead. With two Mission Partners and 160 locally employed staff, our prayers are also with them and their families, and they are with all whom we know in both Israel and Gaza.

“There can be no peace without justice, and we all must do what we can to bring justice to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza.”

For the full message, please see the Church of Scotland website.

Church in Wales

Coptic Orthodox Church

Methodist Church

Statement on the escalation of violence in Israel-Palestine from the Methodist Liaison office in Jerusalem:

The World Methodist Council, the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, and the Methodist Church in Britain work in partnership to run the Methodist Liaison Office based in Jerusalem employing 3 staff members. They have released this statement after the attacks in the region:

We are witnesses to the escalation of violence in the region and we call on the global Methodist people to continue to pray for peace and for an end to the violence.

Pray for those who have lost family members and livelihoods, the injured, for those who perpetuate violence and for world leaders that they may work for peace, the churches and all religious leaders and for those who work for peace in the region.

The situation is complicated, and we recognise the fear and sense of injustice that are felt, but we call on both sides not to resort to further violence and to engage in negotiation to establish a peaceful solution for all who live in the Holy Land.

A prayer from the President and Vice-President of Conference:

God of peace and compassion,
We pray for all impacted by the escalation in conflict in Israel-Palestine
For all who are mourning
For all who are fearful, today, and for what may lie ahead
For all traumatised and re-traumatised by what they have experienced.
Enable us to stand in solidarity with people of peace
May your Spirit bring peace and healing to your troubled world

Quakers in Britain

Quakers in Britain are shocked and deeply saddened by the major escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine,

As of 11 October 2023, more than 1,200 people have been killed in Israel and more than 900 in Gaza. Over 2,700 people have been injured in Israel, and 4,250 in Gaza. More than 260,000 Gazans have been displaced from their homes. Up to 150 people have been taken hostage by Hamas. Behind these rising numbers of deaths and casualties are individual lives ended or changed irrevocably. We mourn those lives already lost and call for an immediate de-escalation.

Indiscriminate attacks on civilians are always unjustifiable. They violate international humanitarian law which seeks to limit the harms of war and protect non-combatants. We condemn the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians and the taking of hostages. We also condemn the violent actions of the Israeli state in Gaza, including airstrikes into areas with high civilian populations, and cutting off water, electricity, and access to humanitarian relief.

We have said before that these cycles of violence must be understood in the context of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, including the blockade on Gaza. The past year has seen record levels of attacks on Palestinian communities, and a sharp increase in human rights violations. This includes demolition of homes and schools, repression of nonviolent protests and mass-arrests.

As Quakers we place equal value on every human life and see that the structural violence of the occupation damages all people of the region. We believe the situation can only be resolved when the occupation has ended and the inherent equality, dignity and worth of all is realised.

It is time for everyone – including the international community – to recognise that no military solution will bring a permanent end to violence. Only a just peace based on international law can do that. We urge the UK government and international leaders to ensure humanitarian access and response. We call for a ceasefire and release of hostages to prevent further loss of life and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians.

Please see the Quakers in Britain website.

Quakers in Ireland

Statement on tragedy in Israel and Palestine from Will Haire, Clerk, Ireland Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland:

At this time we, Quakers in Ireland, are in shock as we witness the continuing tragedy of Israel and Palestine’s relationship entering a new and terrifying phase. We mourn the lives lost now, adding to the generations of death and misery that has scarred this region, exacerbated by the actions over centuries of outside forces.

We must speak out against the attacks on civilians, the taking of hostages, the cutting off of food, water, electricity, and humanitarian aid. So too do we call for the de-escalation of this terrible cycle of violence.

We know that no military solution will bring a permanent end to this tragedy. We know that only a just peace, based on international law, can do that. We join with those calling for the international community to focus now, working together with the people of Israel and Palestine, to bring this forward.

Our focus in the coming year, across the worldwide family of Quakers, is on Ubuntu, the Zulu concept emphasising our deep human interdependence, captured by the phrase “I am because we are”. That human interdependence is true of all the citizens of Palestine and Israel. It is true of all of humanity. So let us understand that we are also intimately involved in this tragedy. Let us seek to uphold everyone in the Light.
Download the statement (PDF)

United Reformed Church

The URC offers prayers for public or private use following the outbreak of hostilities in Israel and Palestine.

Please see the URC website.

World Council of Churches (WCC)

“The World Council of Churches appeals urgently for an immediate cessation of this deadly violence, for Hamas to cease their attacks and ask both parties for de-escalation of the situation,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay. “We are deeply concerned about the imminent risks of spiralling conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, and of the inevitably tragic consequences for the people of the region – Israelis and Palestinians alike – following a period of escalating tensions and violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Pillay added: “The current attacks threaten only more violence; they cannot provide a path to peace or to justice.

“We urge all WCC member churches to join today in praying for just peace in the land of Christ’s birth, and in solidarity with all the people affected and threatened by violence,” he concluded.

Please see the WCC website.

The WCC has also published calls from Church leaders in the Holy Land for de-escalation of violence and respect for human rights.

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