VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 8/2/16)—Ambassador Warren Clark announced his retirement as Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) this week after leading the organization for the past eight years. The CMEP Board of Directors has named Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon as the new Executive Director, effective August 1.
CMEP is a coalition of 22 national Church member bodies, including American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), and organizations in Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions working to encourage U.S. policies that actively promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region.
Ambassador Clark has headed CMEP since January 2008. During his tenure, he arranged meetings for church representatives with administration officials at the highest levels within the United States and foreign governments. Clark also expanded CMEP’s grassroots network nationwide for targeted advocacy by supporters from every state and congressional district.
“This is an exciting time for us to write the next chapter of CMEP,” said Russell Testa, chairman of the CMEP Board of Directors. “While we will miss working with Warren and are so grateful for his service, we are privileged to have Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon lead CMEP forward. Mae has the strong vision and direction to build upon his great legacy of success and broaden our tent.”
Rev. Dr. Cannon is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Cannon formerly served as the senior director of Advocacy and Outreach for World Vision U.S. on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC; as consultant to the Middle East for child advocacy issues for Compassion International in Jerusalem; as the executive pastor of Hillside Covenant Church located in Walnut Creek, Calif.; and as director of development and transformation for extension ministries at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Ill.
Cannon holds an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, an MBA from North Park University’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management, and an MA in Bioethics from Trinity International University. She received her doctorate in American History with a minor in Middle Eastern studies at the University of California (Davis) focusing on the history of the American Protestant church in Israel and Palestine. Her work has been highlighted in CNN, Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, Leadership Magazine, The Christian Post, Jerusalem Post, EU Parliament Magazine, Huffington Post and other international media outlets.
“I am honored to lead CMEP and build upon the work of Ambassador Clark,” Cannon said. “The need for peace with security and justice for Israel and Palestine is more important than ever. American Christians across diverse theological perspectives, denominations, and traditions must come together to advocate strongly and courageously for new engagement strategies toward the mitigation of conflict in the Middle East. As a new U.S. administration and Congress take over next year, CMEP will continue to play a significant role in encouraging progress towards a lasting and just peace.”
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.