Over the weekend of October 23/24, the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ’s voted unanimously to endorse a divestment campaign by the Grand Rapids-based non-profit organization, Healing Children of Conflict (HCC), whose twofold mission is to heal families and communities by facilitating medical treatment for children seriously wounded in Middle Eastern conflicts involving the United States, and to thereby educate the West Michigan community about the root causes of those conflicts.
HCC’s campaign was initiated on October 13, when about 75 HCC members and supporters attended a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting to request that the Mayor and Commissioners adopt a divestment resolution in support of the international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005. HCC’s campaign is based on a successful 1982 initiative that led the City of Grand Rapids to pass a resolution to divest from companies that were profiteering from apartheid in South Africa.
The endorsement of HCC’s campaign by the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ lends further weight to the more than 30 endorsement letters from other church bodies, pastors, community organizations, student groups, and concerned individuals that HCC submitted to the City Clerk at the City Commission meeting.
HCC member David Alvarez says, “This endorsement follows in the footsteps of the UCC’s Synod’s decision to endorse a worldwide movement for justice initiated by Palestinian civil society and based on the 1980s campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in South Africa. Progressive organizations and individuals around the world, including within Israel itself, have responded to the Palestinian call for BDS. That call has created a groundswell of grassroots efforts to achieve what governments have not: the end of the Israeli state’s regime of military occupation, colonization, and segregation for the Palestinian people and the achievement of a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The Reverend Doctor Campbell Lovett, Minister of the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ, stated:
“Our resolution of support makes clear that we condemn all violence and that we affirm Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation and a homeland for the Jewish people. We are troubled, however, by particular policies of the government of Israel that subject the Palestinian people to the loss of their lands and livelihood. That U.S. corporations profit from these policies is immoral. Our resolution calls for divestment from those companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories, and for support of HCC’s campaign to encourage the City of Grand Rapids to divest.“
Here is an excerpt from the UCC statement in support of the HCC campaign: Historically this resolution grows from the seeds of more than 20 General Synod and Executive Council actions speaking to a just peace between the Palestinian people and the State of Israel. It is an incarnation of what we mean by proclaiming that the United Church of Christ is a just peace church. Further, this resolution seeks to embody the covenantal theology we proclaim as a church by advocating for the common good by lending our voice to the organized work of others from various faith traditions who are striving for the same goal: a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the Palestinian people and the State of Israel. This resolution affirms HCC’s campaign.
To read the entire Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ statement endorsing the HCC BDS Campaign call for the City of Grand Rapids to adopt a divestment resolution, click here.