Think tank launches church resource on Iraq

 Following consultation with 2,000 churches, the theological think-tank Ekklesia has today made two resources available to help churches work through the issues surrounding a potential military conflict with Iraq. During the last few weeks, Ekklesia asked churches throughout the UK whether questions were coming up about Iraq and if so, whether they felt they had the tools to tackle them. They were also asked what resources they would value to help them work through the various issues involved. Over 95% of churches that responded, said that there had indeed been discussions about Iraq in church contexts such as Alpha courses, and that they would value resources to help them tackle the questions that were arising. One of the primary concerns that churches expressed was the little knowledge that they had been given about the situation of Christians in Iraq. Churches also made clear that there were a variety of perspectives amongst their congregations surrounding ideas such as "Just War" and that tools would be desirable to help them work through divergent perspectives together. The first resource that is being made available is a briefing paper on the church in Iraq, which looks at the position of the Christians who make up an estimated 3% of the population. Covering amongst other things their history, numbers, geographical location, denominational make-up, and the way that they are have been treated by Saddam Hussein's regime, it aims to give a better understanding to churches in the UK of the status of Iraqi Christians and what military conflict might mean for them. The second resource, developed by one of Ekklesia's partners, Agora, is a discussion guide. The resource has been developed to encourage churches to explore the issues for themselves rather than presenting any 'model' answer. By connecting with the idea of story as a fundamental means by which human communities negotiate life, the resource has a group-based approach that encourages people to link and explore stories from the Christian faith with what they see around them in the developing international situation. Both resources are free and can be downloaded from the Ekklesia web site at: . Churches can also request that copies be sent to them by telephoning Ekklesia on 020 8769 8163.

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