The National Council of Churches has expressed "shock and dismay" at the July 3 downing of an Iranian passenger plane by a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf and urged a change in U.S. policy there.

Otherwise, such events will be repeated, the council said. It said the United States through "its massive naval presence" has become a party to the "brutal regional war" between Iraq and Iran and added:"It is not the development of more sophisticated military strategies capable of coping with new contingencies which is demanded, but a firm dedication to undergird and support international efforts under United Nations auspices to achieve a peaceful, lasting resolution of this war."

In another political statement this week, one of the nation's historic peace churches - the Church of the Brethren - denounced covert operations and covert warfare during the church's annual conference.