بــيــــــــــــان أصحاب الغبطة بطاركة الكنائس الشَّرقيّة

المقدّمة

بدعوة أخويَّة من صاحب الغبطة والنِّيافة الكاردينال مار بشاره بطرس الرَّاعي بطريرك إنطاكية وسائر المشرق للموارنة، اجتمع أصحاب الغبطة بطاركة الكنائس الشَّرقيَّة في الصَّرح البطريركيِّ في الدِّيمان، في السابع من شهر آب 2014، وهم:

الكاثوليكوس آرام الأول كشيشيان، كاثوليكوس بيت كيليكيا للأرمن الأرثوذكس؛ البطريرك غريغوريوس الثالث لحّام، بطريرك أنطاكيه وسائر المشرق والاسكندرية وأورشليم للروم الكاثوليك؛ البطريرك يوحنا العاشر اليازجي، بطريرك أنطاكيه وسائر المشرق للروم الارثوذكس؛ البطريرك مار اغناطيوس يوسف الثالث يونان، بطريرك السريان الإنطاكي؛ البطريرك مار إغناطيوس أفرام الثاني، بطريرك أنطاكيه وسائر المشرق للسريان الأرثوذكس؛ البطريرك نرسيس بدروس التاسع عشر، كاثوليكوس بطريرك كيليكيا للأرمن الكاثوليك؛ وممثّل البطريرك لويس روفائيل الأول ساكو، بطريرك بابل على الكلدان، المطران شليمون وردوني المعاون البطريركي.

لقد هالَهُم ما يَجرِي في المنطقة من أحداث خطيرة لا سابق لها، ومن صراعاتٍ وحروبٍ بين الأخوة في العراق وسوريا، ومن تنامٍ للتطرّف الديني الذي يستهدف النسيج المجتمعي ووحدته في بلداننا، ومن بروز تنظيمات أصولية تكفيرية تهدم وتقتل وتهجّر وتنتهك حرمة الكنائس وتحرق تراثها والمخطوطات، ومن دخول العديد من المرتزقة إلى جانب المعتدين على المواطنين وحرماتهم. وقد آلمتهم مآسي الإخوة الفلسطينيين في غزّه من جرّاء القصف الإسرائيلي العشوائي الخالي من كلّ مشاعر إنسانية والذي استهدف الأبرياء خروجًا على كل الأسس القانونية. وتألّموا في العمق لأحداث عرسال وجرودها في لبنان، التي قامت فيها مجموعات إرهابية دخيلة بالاعتداء على الجيش اللبناني وقوى الأمن الداخلي، فأوقعت عدداً من الشهداء في صفوف الجيش وأسرت بعضاً من جنوده ومن عناصر قوى الأمن، وحاصرت أهل البلدة واتّخذت منهم دروعًا بشريّة وتسببت بتهجيرهم من بيوتهم.

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WCC Denounces Actions Against Yazidis, Christians, and Other Minorities in Iraq

Geneva, 7 August, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I am writing to solicit your prayers for the Christians, the church communities and all the suffering people on the Plain of Nineveh in northern Iraq, as well as the surrounding region. Reports in recent days have confirmed the forced displacement and indiscriminate killing of Christians, Yazidis, and members of other vulnerable religious and ethnic communities in Iraq as the result of military attacks by the “Islamic State”, a group formerly known as the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” (ISIS).

I have communicated with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon, urging him to deploy all efforts to bring a halt to the violence in Iraq and to ensure the physical protection of all people there and support for their human rights including the right to religious liberty. Now I ask for your support, in prayer and advocacy. Please contact your government officials requesting them to:

- Instruct their UN ambassadors to bring the plight of all vulnerable people and communities in Iraq to the Security Council for immediate protective actions.
- Obtain from the UN Security Council a binding resolution that ensures the immediate safe return of all those who were obliged to flee their homes and properties.
- Double their humanitarian efforts now, including urgent aid for the internally displaced and the refugees in neighbouring countries.

Please do also notify us of your action so that we can inform the churches in Iraq and follow-up on the issue at the United Nations.

In the region that is now Iraq, Christianity took root in the earliest decades of the Christian church, and it is there that some of the most faithful of our communities have flourished to this day. These are the brothers and sisters who are under threat now.

The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, wrote earlier today that ISIS militants conducted a mortar assault last night that has driven as many as 100,000 Christians from their homes and villages, most fleeing on foot towards Kurdish cities where they hope to take refuge. Those fleeing include the sick and wounded the elderly, infants and pregnant women. The patriarch tells us that there is an urgent need for water, food and shelter.

Churches and property belonging to religious communities are being desecrated and destroyed by ISIS, and ancient manuscripts have been burned as an assault on the people’s religious beliefs. According to the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, Joseph Thomas, whole towns in northern Iraq have been emptied of their populations.

Let us join in prayer and unite in action to restore these shattered communities, and to aid their people.

In the love and service of Jesus Christ,
Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri
Associate General Secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia and
Acting General Secretary

To read the letter in its original format, you can download it here.  (PDF)

Bishop Munib Younan Leads Delegation to Visit Gaza Wounded in Jerusalem

Bishop Younan Visits Gaza Wounded

Bishop Munib Younan led a delegation to visit the Gaza wounded who have been brought to Jerusalem hospitals. (© ELCJHL)

JERUSALEM – On Friday, August 1st, 2014, Bishop Munib Younan led delegates from the Pontifical Mission, Caritas Hospital, Jerusalem Inter-Church Center that represents both the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches, the Apostolic Delegate, and Catholic World Relief in visiting those wounded in Gaza who have been brought to Jerusalem hospitals.  Between St. Joseph’s Hospital, a hospital owned by the Catholic Church, and Augusta Victoria Hospital, run by the Lutheran World Federation, there are 32 cases, including 1 Christian, with ages ranging from 2 to adulthood.

Bishop Younan walked among the wounded and tried to bring them comfort through words.  He stated, “We pray that God will give them healing, for all people, since it is our responsibility to care for all who are hurting.  I told the patients to continue in their faith and to trust God, who is a God of love.  We pray that justice will prevail in this country.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land continues to pray for all people who are victims of this war.  We continue to call for a ceasefire anchored in an end to the siege and a peace process.  Once a ceasefire in Gaza has been reached, the ELCJHL hopes to visit the area and help assess both the needs and the best way to move forward with donations for the area.

Augusta Victoria Hospital, currently caring for 6 Gaza patients, has opened 16 beds for those injured in the war.  AVH has also sent 4 doctors and 1 nurse to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza to help with patients and to bring desperately needed medical supplies.

To view photos of Bishop Younan’s visit, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.

Norwegian Church Aid and Ecumenical Council of the Church of Norway Condemn Violence in Gaza

The atrocities of war have reached frightening dimensions in the Gaza Strip. 100 000 people are internally displaced trying to escape the assault, and the death tolls are on the rise. Three out of four that have been killed are children, women andother non-combatants. The widespread demolition of civilian infrastructure, hospitals, clinics, schools, water and sanitationfacilities, threatens the war-affected population’s access to basic services and human rights.

The staff, working at the social institutions of the churches’ in Gaza, tells us that people are seeking shelter in their churches, hospitals and schools. The church institutions are located in poor and vulnerable areas of the Gaza Strip. They report of anexhausted population who has no place to seek protection from the war. Many elderly citizens do not have the energy to flee, and remain at homes.

“Civilians have the right to protection in war. Israel is not doing enough to protect the civilian population in the Gaza Stripwho are trapped in the warfare.” Helland and Hagen Agøy say.

“We strongly condemn the brutal attacks by the Israeli military forces against the civilian population in Gaza, just as wecondemn the firing of rockets by militant groups in Gaza at populated areas in Israel,” Helland and Hagen Agøy emphasizes,as they joins the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, Olav Tveit, in his appeal on 11th of July for putting an end to the escalation of the brutal cycle of violence.

The Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, represented by Bishop Mounib Younan, appeals to all people of good will. “Palestine andIsrael now need justice, peace and dignity and not more radicalization, revenge and bloodshed that follows unilateraldiplomatic or military support to one side or the other in the conflict. Palestinians and Israelis need peace and dignity,”Bishop Younan writes from Jerusalem.

“We are also worried for the security of Israel’s population. But a solution to the repeated attacks against Israelineighborhoods surrounding the Gaza Strip, has to be developed through sustainable political solutions and not by military means, where Gaza’s civilians are paying the highest price,” Helland and Hagen Agøy conclude.

Bishop Munib Younan Responds to Bishop Eaton’s Letter to ELCJHL on Gaza Ceasefire

Dear Bishop Eaton,
Salaam and grace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I want to thank you for your letter of support and comfort. It comes at a time when we find ourselves in a terrible situation. I have always written that we in the Holy Land are in a continuous state of emergency and this violence proves that we cannot go two years without something that devastates our daily lives. However, despite all of the frustration, depression, bloodshed, and the growth of extremism – which this war will only increase – we in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) continue to be committed to a non-violent witness for justice, peace, and reconciliation.

I have worked towards peace my whole life and it disheartens me to see that in this country the power of hatred is still stronger than the power of love.  It hurts to see that the power of injustice is far more prevalent than the message of justice for each and every human being.  We are appalled to see that the logic of power is stronger than the power of logic.  But we in the ELCJHL will not allow this to frustrate our efforts or our message of peace for all humanity – the message of the cross.  Our power comes from the resurrection and although it seems dark now, the message of the resurrection – the resurrection that took place here in Jerusalem – will revive the power of hope within us.  We pray that this hatred will not be able to grow more even in the midst of occupation and extremism, but that peace based on justice will blossom in this desert of animosity and aggression.  I pray that I will see this in my lifetime.

The ELCJHL has always called for a strengthening of Christian witness in the Middle East. Christian witness is always an instrument of peace. Christians have always worked to be brokers of justice, initiators of dialogue, ministers of reconciliation, and bridge builders between all. This message needs to be strengthened not just in the Holy Land, but throughout the entire Middle East. The King of Jordan, King Abdullah II, said as much when giving the ELCJHL a small parcel of land at the historic Baptismal Site at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan when he stated that he wanted to strengthen the Arab Christian presence in the Middle East.

The ELCJHL has always worked to strengthen moderates from all religions, cultures, traditions, and nations in the Middle East. We strengthen those who see God’s image in the other and who will not promote extremism, violence, or human right’s violations.
The ELCJHL has always worked to make education a priority in the Middle East. All education, including peace education, must be the highest priority of a nation that seeks equity. We do not want or need an education of incitement or of provocation, but an education that will accept the other and to see the other as an ally in building up humanity and creating justice. Instead of using arms, weapons, rockets, or phosphorous bombs, we wish to educate our children towards peace where war and intifadas will be a thing of the past, no longer tools of the present.

The ELCJHL has always called for interfaith dialogue, a dialogue which seeks the common values of peace, justice, co-existence, and non-violence. Without dialogue between religions, extremism will grow and moderates, including Christians, will be sidelined and marginalized in their own societies. It is time not only for governments to assume their responsibilities, but also people of faith.

We would like to ask you that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) may use their power to apply pressure for a ceasefire that will end the siege of Gaza, end the occupation, and create a two-state solution, living side-by-side in peace, justice, and reconciliation, based on international law.

I thank the ELCA for their support of us as a church. I thank you on behalf of the entire ELCJHL for your prayers and comfort. Please greet your churches and congregations and thank them for their support during this difficult time. We pray that you will continue to support us and the Gospel of Love that invites us to build peace wherever we are called, as we pray for you. Let us together revive a spirit of accompaniment that will advance holistic mission, strengthen Christians, and work towards peace based on justice and reconciliation based on forgiveness.

Your Brother in Christ,
Bishop Munib Younan

Women’s Conference on Protection of Women Held in Jordan

The 2014 Women's Desk Conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan (© ELCJHL)

The 2014 Women’s Desk Conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan (© ELCJHL)

DEAD SEA, JORDAN – The Women’s Desk of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land held a Summer Women’s Conference for the Lutheran women of Jordan at the Dead Sea from June 10-12, 2014.  The Women’s Desk, headed by Suad Younan and facilitated by Bassimah Jarayseh, invited speakers to discuss working to move forward laws that protect women in Jordan.

Mrs. Suad Younan started the conference with a discussion of the four pillars of UN Resolution 1325, a resolution on the protection of women:  prevention, participation, protection, and relief and recovery.   The discussion continued with the help of Advocate Lubna Dawani, a Jordanian lawyer and Vice President and Board Member of MIZAN, a law group concerned with human rights.  Ms. Dawani discussed the status of Family Law in Jordan, as well as human and gender rights as outlined in Jordanian law.  The ELCJHL and the Women’s Desk in particular are hoping to prepare a national action plan concerning families and to help inform laws on women’s rights and health, not just at the local level, but also at the national level.

Dr. Abeer El-Far, a Jordanian psychologist and Vice President of the Jordanian Psychological Association, spent time discussing emotional intelligence and domestic abuse with the women.  Ms. El-Far also led an activity with the women concerning their self-critical and self-confident emotions.

The conference ended with Bible studies on Luke and Mark, as well as prayer for both the attendees and the coordinators of the event.

To view photos from the event, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.

Lay Preacher’s Academy Holds Conference at Dead Sea

DEAD SEA, JORDAN – The Lay Preacher’s Academy, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land designed to promote congregational lay members into the ordained ministry of the church, held a preaching conference at the Dead Sea in Jordan.  Participants practiced their sermon skills as well as listened to lectures on subjects such as worship and communion presented by Bishop Munib Younan and Dr. Munther Ishaq.  The conference was part of the continuing education of the Lay Preachers.  The first graduates of the Academy will be honored this fall when they complete the course.

To view photos from the conference, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery
.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) Calls for Immediate Cessation of Hostilities in Gaza

“In the day of my trouble I call on you” — Psalm 86:7

Witnessing the bombardments, hearing the sirens, listening to the cries of mothers and children, seeing the ambulances carrying the wounded and people living in absolute fear, the ELCJHL cries out to God. We also raise our voice to all Christian sisters and brothers, along with all people of goodwill, to end this latest round of violence between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.

In these days, many of us are quite depressed and frustrated, left wondering where this country is headed, along with much of the Middle East. As a church that has always strongly condemned violence as a means of solving conflicts, we were deeply troubled by the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers and the kidnapping and burning alive of the Palestinian teenager. We strongly condemn both of these actions as inhumane and despicable acts.

As we condemn the kidnappings, we also unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms possible the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas against civilian targets and the ongoing Israeli blockade and bombardment of Gaza (resulting so far in the deaths of more than 200 people, 80 percent of whom were civilians and 20 percent children). Both expressions of violence are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights laws and should be immediately ended.

This country and its people have gone through 65 years of violence, retaliations, and counter-retaliations. The ELCJHL believes that the existing political deadlock between Israel and Palestine cannot be resolved militarily. The current hostilities do not serve the long-term interest of any party. We have always believed in non-violent struggle and creative resistance to illegal state policies. Throughout our history we have worked to alleviate human suffering, promote peace and reconciliation.

We are afraid that this current wave of violence may force more Palestinian Christians to seek immigration. And what is the Holy Land without its Christians? To Palestinian Christians here in this land, I call upon you to remain, continuing your service as instruments of peace, brokers of justice, bridge builders, and agents of change.

In reaffirmation of our position, we call for:

  • Parties to the present conflict (Israel and Hamas) to agree upon an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities. This ceasefire should be facilitated by the international community to bring an end to human suffering. The focus of the international community should be on humanitarian and development assistance for the communities most negatively affected by the current round of violence. What Palestine and Israel need at the moment is justice, peace and dignity rather than the radicalization, revenge, and bloodshed promoted by one-sided diplomatic or military support for either group. The people of Palestine and Israel need to live in peace and dignity.
  • The resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace and a two-state solution based on 1967 borders and abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. The unity government of the Palestinian Authority should be respected. Any ceasefire addressing the immediate situation should be anchored in a long-term peace agreement in order to prevent other relapses into violence.
  • The lifting of the Israeli siege on Gaza. This indefinite siege on Gaza has created great suffering and instigated greater hostility. If a sustainable peace is to be achieved, Israel should lift its blockade. The unified Palestinian people of Gaza and the West Bank should enjoy their right to freedom of movement.
  • Critical support for healthcare infrastructure. The international community has long supported healthcare services for Palestinians, especially in the West Bank and Gaza. The present violence has severely affected healthcare infrastructure. We especially raise our concern for the financial crisis faced by Augusta Victoria Hospital and the system of East Jerusalem hospitals and medical centers.
  • Material support for interreligious cooperation and peacebuilding through the educational and diaconal ministries of the ELCJHL. These ministries empower the forces of moderation to build up civil society and create a shared future. Recurring cycles of violence place the church and related agencies in a chronic state of crisis and emergency, making it difficult for local institutions to thrive.
  • That the global Christian community—including the member churches of the Lutheran World Federation—provide necessary assistance to those who have been internally displaced or affected by the current wave of violence in one form or another and to help the economic and development growth of the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land raises its voice to ask all people of good will to intervene in the present situation of unacceptable violence and bloodshed. Your intervention and action will create hope in a hopeless situation. If we cannot take steps toward peace, we will continue to be held hostage by extremism. Please do not leave us alone in this moment of struggle. The whole Middle East is boiling. We need your prophetic voice and support so that peace built on justice and reconciliation built on forgiveness will prevail.

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

„Politik und Religion zu trennen weder weise noch wünschenswert“

LWB-Präsident Bischof Dr. Munib A. Younan im Martin Luther Forum Ruhr. Foto: DNK

LWB-Präsident Bischof Dr. Munib A. Younan im Martin Luther Forum Ruhr. Foto: DNK

(LWI) – Zum Einsatz für Frieden und Gerechtigkeit im Nahen Osten und gegen eine künstliche Trennung von Politik und Theologie rief LWB-Präsident Bischof Dr. Munib A. Younan am 26. Juni 2014 in einem Vortrag im Martin Luther Forum Ruhr in Gladbeck (Deutschland) auf. Aus seiner Heimat, dem Nahen Osten, wisse der Bischof der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Jordanien und im Heiligen Land (ELKJHL), dass eine Trennung beider Bereiche weder möglich noch klug sei. Die Politik müsse Raum für Religionen lassen und die Kirchen die Regierungen kritisch begleiten.

Younan besuchte Deutschland auf Einladung des Martin Luther Forums Ruhr. Am Nachmittag des 26. Juni traf der Präsident des Lutherischen Weltbundes (LWB) mit dem Bürgermeister der Stadt Gladbeck, Ulrich Roland, zusammen. Nach einem Austausch zu Fragen der Integration und des friedlichen Zusammenlebens der Religionen trug sich Younan in das goldene Buch der Stadt ein. Im Anschluss nahm der Bischof an dem traditionellen Sommerfest des Martin Luther Forums teil, das von über 200 Teilnehmenden besucht wurde. Durch den Abend führte OKR Detlef Mucks-Büker, der Vorsitzende des Stiftungsrates der Martin Luther Stiftung Ruhr. Grußworte kamen von dem Regierungspräsidenten Prof. Dr. Reinhard Klenke und dem Geschäftsführer des Deutschen Nationalkomitees des Lutherischen Weltbundes, OKR Norbert Denecke.

Rolle von Religion im öffentlichen Raum

In seinem Hauptvortrag widmete sich Younan der Frage, inwieweit die Systeme Politik und Theologie miteinander im Einklang stehen können. Oft würde ihm als Bischof eine vollständige Trennung empfohlen. Diese könne er aber nicht akzeptieren. „Ich komme aus einem Kontext, wo Religion und Politik nicht getrennt werden können […] Politik und Religion zu trennen ist weder weise noch wünschenswert.“ Außerdem entspräche dies nicht seiner lutherischen theologischen Tradition, so Younan. Dies entfaltete er anhand der Zwei-Reiche-Lehre Luthers und deren Wiederaufnahme in den 1930er-Jahren u. a. durch Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Vor diesem Hintergrund gab der Bischof der ELKJHL eine Analyse der Verhältnisse von Religion und Politik im Nahen Osten. Multiples Versagen hätte zu der heutigen Krisensituation in der Region geführt, auch die Beschneidung religiöser Freiheit. „Die Unterdrückung religiöser Impulse führte zu beispiellosen Wellen von religiösem Fanatismus, sobald die diktatorische Gewalt fort war“, so Younan. Daher wies der Bischof auch alle Forderung zurück, Religion völlig aus der Gesellschaft auszuklammern. Dies führe gerade zu besagten desaströsen Ergebnissen.

Dies verband er mit dem politischen Engagement der Kirchen. Der Nahe Osten suche weiterhin nach Modellen guter Regierungsführung. Dazu könnten die Kirchen nicht schweigen: „Die Krise der Regierungen […] verlangt es, dass die örtlichen Kirchen ihre Herangehensweisen an politisches Engagement überdenken.“ Zur Spannung zwischen Religion und Politik betonte er: „Wir wollen nicht die Politik ‚christianisieren‘, wir streben danach, die Gesellschaft durch politisches Engagement zu verbessern.“ Gleichzeitig lehnte Younan Verfassungen ab, die die heiligen Texte einer Religion als Hauptquelle haben: „Vor dem Gesetz sind alle Religionen gleich; daher suchen wir Religionsfreiheit und Freiheit in religiösem Bekenntnis.“

Der LWB-Präsident unterstrich, dass die lutherischen Kirchen dieses Anliegen mit vielen Religionsgemeinschaften teilen. Zu der Frage, welche Rolle Religion im öffentlichen Raum einnehmen kann, hat der LWB im Januar 2014 ein Drei-Jahres-Programm gestartet. Vier Konferenzen weltweit, die gemeinsam mit Partnern anderer Religionen verantwortet werden, werden sich mit dieser Frage beschäftigen. Zwei der Konferenzen haben bereits stattgefunden: im Januar 2014 in Münster (Deutschland) gemeinsam mit dem Zentrum für Islamische Theologie sowie in Dar es Salaam (Tansania) mit 60 religiösen und zivilgesellschaftlichen Führungspersonen aus Afrika.

Zur Situation in Israel-Palästina bekräftigte der Präsident des LWB den Einsatz der LutheranerInnen in Palästina und weltweit für eine Zwei-Staaten-Lösung mit einer gemeinsam geteilten Stadt Jerusalem.

„Himmelskreuz“ für Luthergarten

Nach dem Festvortrag des LWB-Präsidenten hatten die Veranstalter noch eine Überraschung für Younan vorbereitet. Sie übergaben ihm ein Modell der Skulptur „Himmelskreuz“ vom Künstler Thomas Schönauer. Nach diesem Modell soll in den nächsten Jahren im Wittenberger Luthergarten das Kreuz der Lutherrose – dem zentralen Platz des Luthergartens – gestaltet werden. Der Initiator des Luthergartens, Landschaftsarchitekt Andreas Kipar, erinnerte daran, dass das Martin Luther Forum Ruhr bereits 2010 einen Trompetenbaum in Wittenberg gepflanzt hatte. Mit dem Partnerbaum im Martin Luther Forum sei Gladbeck mit dem Luthergarten in Wittenberg ebenso verbunden wie mit den vielen anderen Orten weltweit, an denen Partnerbäume des Luthergartens stünden.

To read the article on the website, you can visit the Lutheran World Federation.
To read Bishop Younan’s speech (English), you can download it here. (PDF)
To view photos from the event, you can view them on the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.

Statement of the Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)

AMMONNEWS – The General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Fr. Michel Jalakh, called the Presidents of the Council to an extraordinary meeting in Amman, Jordan, on June 19th, 2014, which was hosted by His Beatitude Theophilos III.

The Presidents were mindful of the commitment of His Majesty King Abdullah II to advocating for the Christian presence in the Kingdom, and were grateful for his continued support. In attendance were His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, President of the Eastern Orthodox family, His Beatitude Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for Syriac Catholic Church, President of the Catholic family, His Grace Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, President of the Evangelical family, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, President of the Oriental Orthodox family, represented by the co-Presidents.

Pastor Dr. Habib Badr, President of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut and Honorary Treasurer of MECC attended also the meeting.

The Presidents were joined for lunch by members of the diplomatic corps and honored Jordanian and international guests. His Beatitude Theophilos III welcomed guests and introduced his co-Presidents as well as Fr Michel Jalakh, Middle East Council of Churches Secretary General. Following lunch, the Presidents resumed discussion and released the results of their meeting in the following statement:

The current unexpected events taking place in Iraq join a further deterioration within countries in the region, and the Presidents share in the suffering of these tragic events along with the innocent victims of hatred and violence.

The people of Iraq are at risk of being dominated by political and religious extremism, a fact that calls upon us and the whole world to raise awareness and take immediate measures. The Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches condemn all forms of violence against churches, mosques and other religious institutions. They encourage all Christians and people of goodwill to stand strong and not be afraid and to remember that they, together with their Muslim brothers and sisters, are the children of the same land and all share a common human nature and destiny.

Therefore, we must respect and support one another as brothers and sisters.

The Presidents stand in compassion and prayer for all those in exile, displaced in Syria and in neighboring countries. We call upon all concerned parties to seek reconciliation without racial or religious discrimination. We call to release the two kidnapped archbishops Boulos Yaziji and Yuhanna Ibrahim, in addition to all kidnapped priests and innocent people.

Furthermore, the Presidents of MECC, comprised of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Evangelical, and Catholic families, call upon peacemakers in the entire international community, to defend the dignity and rights of all humans as well as freedom of religious expression, to quickly and effectively interfere in order to help our people to be liberated from the dreadful spiral of hatred and violence. We strongly condemn all forms of violence, regardless of who is the perpetrator, while simultaneously praying for peace, justice and reconciliation. We extend these prayers all over the world, but especially for all people of the Holy Land, to pursue peace, so that Jerusalem may be a beacon of peace throughout the world.

We, the Presidents of the MECC, ask the Holy Spirit to guide our churches in the bond of love in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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