by Monte Sahlin

By AT News Team, August 8, 2014

The top leader of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination released a statement late Friday, August 8, condemning the violence against Christians and other minority religions in areas where Muslim extremists have recently taken control. Pastor Ted Wilson, president of the denomination's General Conference, expressed "great sadness and deep concern [about] the tragic situation where tens of thousands … have been subjected to persecution, coercion, killings, intimidation and lack of religious liberty in certain areas of Iraq and Syria."

Wilson "urgently" called church members around the world to "pray for the victims of this … religious intolerance," particularly "religious minorities." He stated that "it is important that the international community act unitedly to stop the persecution of … believers … who have lived in relative peace with their Muslim neighbors in the Middle East for hundreds of years." He also pledged that the Adventist denomination "will do its best to assist victims of this new tragedy" and "pray for a positive resolution to this appalling situation."

The denomination's East Mediterranean Field includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Throughout this large area with very different political and religious conditions in the different nations, there are only ten Adventist churches with fewer than 700 members among a population of 67 million. The main office of the organization is in Metn, Lebanon. There are also offices in Baghdad, Iraq, and Amman, Jordan.