Presiding Bishop on the Ongoing Crisis in Kosovo

May 14, 1999

I write to the Church today to provide an update on the multiple efforts undertaken at our Church Center and our whole Church in the midst of the tragedy that unfolds daily in Kosovo. Yesterday I sent two letters, one to President Clinton and the other to Dr. Han Wenzao of the China Christian Council, both on the subject of the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

We are now searching with our Anglican and ecumenical partners for any creative means of supporting diplomatic efforts to end this tragedy. Much of this work necessarily goes unreported, but the efforts have been unflagging. While recognizing the difficulty in finding solutions, we are pursuing any avenue of peacemaking open to us.

Since last speaking on this crisis, the bombing has intensified and thousands more have fled to safety in Macedonia and Albania. Some modest gestures toward peace have been made, but the anguish and suffering for both refugees and the people of Kosovo continue. However, from this tragedy has come an incredible response from the whole Church.

The Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief has received a heartening outpouring of support which has already made possible over $120,000 of humanitarian relief to Kosovo refugees. The Fund with its ecumenical partners is bringing relief to the thousands who now search for safety in neighboring Balkan countries. Donors to the Fund should know that their contributions will help those refugees now coming to the United States to rebuild their lives. The Fund also looks forward to assisting with rehabilitation in Kosovo should those so brutally dislodged from their homes and communities be able eventually to return home. The needs are great and I count on your continuing generosity so that the Episcopal Church can be an instrument of both relief and recovery for our sisters and brothers from Kosovo.

Further, Episcopal Migration Ministries through its network of diocesan resettlement programs will share in the resettlement of 20,000 refugees coming to the United States. In helping these refugees begin their lives anew, Episcopal Migration Ministries will connect these refugees with churches and other sponsors who will help with the healing that these new neighbors so urgently need. This effort will be sustained by the extraordinary generosity of parishes and Episcopalians around the country whose offers of assistance and friendship are received daily by the Church Center.

Surely, this is the Church at its best, seeking to serve Christ in all persons--even those of another faith from another land. Let us rejoice in this manifestation of our Church as a true source of resurrection for so many.

I also want you to know that I have assigned a team of staff to explore every option we might take in supporting an end to the conflict. Working in concert are staff from Anglican Relations, Migration Ministries, Peace and Justice Ministries (including the Church's Office of Government Relations), Ecumenical Relations, the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, and Media Services.

I again ask that we join in prayer with our sisters and brothers of all faiths in bringing healing out of the devastation that assaults us daily as we watch the evening news and read the daily press. I pray we will not enter the next millennium with the legacy of this tragedy hanging over us.

Yours sincerely,

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate