The Easter Message for 2014

altar-at-sunrise

“Peace be with you.” (St. John, 20:19)
The Easter Peace That Passes All Understanding – 2014
Bishop Dr. Munib Younan
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Salaam and grace to you from Jerusalem in the name of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Peace be with you,” Jesus tells Thomas after the Resurrection.

I greet you in a time of suspicion and doubt. The story of Thomas has not ended. The story of Thomas continues to be our story, our context. It is a story where people are doubting in the Resurrection of Jesus because the fact that there is so much wrong in the world seems to suggest otherwise. Perhaps we are driven to declare as Thomas did, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25b).

Throughout the years Thomas has been known to Christendom as a man of suspicion or doubt. Some even call him “Doubting Thomas.” He is the man who does not believe until he sees for himself. Perhaps, however, we aren’t being honest with ourselves. Isn’t this narrative of a man who wrestles with his doubts the story of all of us? Isn’t this how we behave in our families and churches? Don’t we struggle daily with doubt and suspicion?

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ELCJHL Renews Mutual Agreement With Kuopio, Finland and FELM

Bishop Jari Jolkkonen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL shake hands.

Bishop Jari Jolkkonen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL shake hands. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

JERUSALEM – The companion agreement between The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Diocese of Kuopio, and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) was signed in St. John’s Chapel at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014. Bishop Munib Younan, representing the ELCJHL, Bishop Jari Jolkkonen, representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Diocese of Kuopio, and Rev. Dr. Seppo Rissanen, representing FELM signed the documents to continue their mutual agreement of accompaniment.  The ELCJHL is happy to continue its work with both the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Kuopio Diocese and FELM.

EEC Announces Creation of Palestinian Environment Day

Bishop Munib Younan and the Palestinian Quality Authority announce Palestine Environmental Day.

Bishop Munib Younan and the Palestinian Quality Authority announce Palestine Environmental Day. (© ELCJHL)

The Environmental Education Center (EEC), in collaboration with the Palestinian Quality Authority, announced on Thursday, March 13th, 2014, that the 5th of March will be dedicated as Palestinian Environment Day, an initiative launched by His Grace Bishop Munib A. Younan.

Palestinian Environment Day will be celebrated annually with a focus on raising awareness about the Palestinian environmental situation. This day aims to fight for environmental rights, for sustainability of the environment, and to show both locals and visitors the Palestinian landscape.

This day comes out of the longing of the people of Palestinian for freedom, the restoration of their land, and control over natural resources. Activities will be held in collaboration with other environmentally active organization to celebrate the day. Every year will have a specific slogan, starting with “The Occupation Crimes: An Enemy to All Forms of Life” to reaffirm the role of the occupation’s contribution to the state of our environment. Between the 15th of March and the 15th of April, 2014, the first annual event will be held with the announcement of a National Bird Watching and Ringing Week and the implementation of many green activities throughout the country.

Check back to learn about upcoming activities with the EEC!

ELCJHL and National Evangelical Church in Beirut Concelebrate Holy Communion

The concelebration between Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut.

The concelebration between Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut. (© National Evangelical Church in Beirut)

BEIRUT – On March 9th, 2014, in conjunction with the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut concelebrated Holy Communion.

In 2006, the ELCJHL and six Reformed churches in the Middle East signed a mutual recognition agreement called the Amman Declaration.  Through this declaration, the churches recognize each other as apostolic churches in preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments.  We mutually accept the validity of each church’s ministry and we continue to ask the Holy Spirit to bless this declaration and that it would lead us to the unity .

Bishop Younan preached in the service, emphasizing the modern temptation in the Middle East is to both read the Scriptures incorrectly and to allow extremism to spread.  In light of these temptations, we should, as churches, be united and in this unity we can be an integral part of our people and living witnesses to Arab society.

Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, head of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut, proclaimed the concelebration of Holy Communion as a historic moment as this was the first time that the ELCJHL and the National Evangelical Church in Beirut celebrated at the Lord’s table together.  This is a sign for the Evangelical Churches in the Middle East that there is no other way, except through unity and a common Evangelical witness.

To see photos from the concelebration, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.
To read more about the Amman Declaration, you can visit the ELCJHL’s website.

Diyar Consortium and Dar al-Kalima Inaugurate Sports Hall

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen, a six-time Olympic medalist, has helped inaugurate a $1.2 million indoor gym for Palestinian women in the biblical town of Bethlehem.

Women’s participation in sports is still relatively unusual in Palestinian society, which encourages gender separation in much of public life.

Several women’s soccer teams have formed, but they lack training facilities.

The 1,300-square-meter (14,000-square-feet) sports center opened Sunday, with funding from Canadian Lutheran World Relief and the Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in the Canadian city of Calgary. The center will also offer space to volleyball and basketball teams as well as tennis players.

Klassen, 34, says that “women here in the West Bank don’t get many opportunities in sports.” She says she hopes the center will enable Palestinian women to train and build confidence.

To read the article in its original format, you can visit the AP website.

To read articles about the inauguration in Arabic, you can visit any of the links provided here:
Dar al-Kalima Schools
Palestine News Network
Atlas Sport

Bishop Munib Younan Honored By Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtät Münster

Bishop Munib Younan has been honored with the title of Doctor Theologiae Honoris Causa from the Protestant Theological Faculty of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtät Münster.

Bishop Younan is being awarded for his reconciling and ecumenical work in the Middle East.  The decision states:

„Munib Younan wirkt als evangelischer Theologe in einer konfliktbeladenen Region als versöhnender Brückenbauer zwischen Religionen und Ethnien. Er lebt und praktiziert die evangelische Einsicht in die grundlegende Bedeutung der Vergebung für das menschliche Miteinander, aus der Versöhnung erwachsen kann. Als Bischof einer kleinen evangelischen Kirche hält er mit hoher theologischer Urteilskraft die evangelische Stimme im Nahen und Mittleren Osten präsent und betreibt aktive Versöhnungsarbeit in ökumenischen und interreligiösen Dialogen und in den Bildungsaktivitäten seiner Kirche.“

“Munib Younan acts as an Evangelical theologian and as a reconciling, bridge-builder between both religions and ethnic groups in a very conflict-laden area.  He lives and practices his Evangelical perspectives in a very meaningful way, through forgiveness and reconciliation.  Though Bishop of a small church, he has high theological power to make his Evangelical voice active in the Middle East, in active reconciliation work,  ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and through the educational ministries of his church.”

This distinction will be bestowed upon Bishop Munib Younan on November 19th, 2014 at the University’s Centennial celebration.

Congratulations to Bishop Munib Younan on this special achievement, which he accepted with thankfulness.

Bishop Munib Younan Visits Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem

A group of Christians visited Sheikh Abed Atheem, Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque and M. Azam Abed Alkhatib Altamimi, Head of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem to discuss the Israeli Knesset's debate about the sovereignty of Al-Aqsa Mosque. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

A group of Christians visited Sheikh Abed Atheem, Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque and M. Azam Abed Alkhatib Altamimi, Head of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem to discuss the Israeli Knesset’s debate about the sovereignty of Al-Aqsa Mosque. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

Bishop Munib Younan and Msgr. William Shomali of the Latin Church met with Sheikh Abed Atheem, Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque and M. Azam Abed Alkhatib Altamimi, Head of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem to discuss the upcoming Israeli Knesset’s evening debate on a bill to end Jordanian custodianship of Al-Aqsa’s Mosque.

Under the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, Jordan has custodianship of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.  A year ago, President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding that Jordan, through the king, will continue the custodianship of the holy places in Jerusalem.

“The religious Status Quo in Jerusalem must be respected.  We are asking all officials not to transform the political conflict into a religious one because that is very dangerous to all of us,” said Bishop Younan.

To see photos from the visit, you can visit the ELCJHL’s Photo Gallery.

Palästinensische Christen: “Gewaltakte verurteilen und Zweideutigkeit vermeiden”

Bischof Younan: Situation der Christen eng mit der politischen Lage verknüpft

Bischof Younan: Situation der Christen eng mit der politischen Lage verknüpft
(Spiegel Online)

Bischof Munib Younan vertritt eine christliche Minderheit in den palästinensischen Gebieten und Ostjerusalem. Offen kritisiert er die Besatzungspolitik der Israelis und Übergriffe radikaler Siedler auf heilige Stätten. “Wer schweigt, hilft den Extremisten”, sagt er.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Bischof Younan, Sie sind evangelischer Christ, aber auch Sohn palästinensischer Flüchtlinge, der die israelische Siedlungspolitik verurteilt. Es gibt Kritiker, die behaupten, Sie seien nur zu 10 Prozent Christ, aber zu 90 Prozent Politiker. Stimmt das?

Younan: Ich bin Kirchenführer. Es ist nicht meine Aufgabe, Politik zu machen. Eine Kirche ist nur glaubhaft, wenn sie der Wahrheit verpflichtet ist. Sobald sie anfängt, Machtspiele zu spielen, ist das nicht mehr der Fall.

SPIEGEL ONLINEAber Sie ergreifen eindeutig Partei für die Sache der Palästinenser.

Younan: Ich bin palästinensischer Flüchtling und evangelischer Christ, ich trage den Schmerz meines Volkes unter meiner Haut. Ich kann nicht dabei zusehen, wie Menschen unterdrückt werden, und dazu schweigen. Der Theologe und Widerstandskämpfer Dietrich Bonhoeffer hat gefordert, die Kirche solle das Gewissen des Staates sein. Ich habe täglich mit drei Staaten zu tun: Jordanien, Palästina und Israel. Da muss ich sagen, was richtig und was falsch ist.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Viele Ihrer christlichen Glaubensbrüder in Jerusalem halten sich zurück, wenn es darum geht, politisch Stellung zu beziehen.

Younan: Sie haben eine Position, aber sie tun nicht genug. Wir Christen aus Jerusalem müssen unsere Stimme erheben für den Friedensprozess. Ich verstehe die deutsche Zurückhaltung wegen des Holocausts und der sehr speziellen Beziehung zu Israel. Wenn ich in Deutschland bin, sage ich meinen Gesprächspartnern immer: Ihr müsste keine doppelte Schuld auf euch laden. Wer wird euch einen Antisemiten schimpfen, wenn ihr auf ein Ende der Besetzung und eine Zweistaatenlösung drängt?

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ELCJHL Model United Nations Teams Prepare For Competitions

Students from the Model United Nations teams from Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, and Ramallah pose for a photo.

Students from the Model United Nations teams from Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, and Ramallah pose for a photo. (© ELCJHL)

The ELCJHL schools have been preparing a handful of students to participate in Model United Nations (MUN), in Jerusalem, Ramallah and, hopefully, around the world.

The Model United Nations, operating much like the formal version, gives student delegates the chance to develop their debating skills, as well as learning more about world politics and issues.  The ELCJHL is hoping that this will not just teach their students about global issues, but also be part of their peace education by learning about the other.

In 2014, the students are participating locally at the Rosary Sisters’ High School in Jerusalem and the Friends School in Ramallah.

The ELCJHL is hoping to send the MUN delegation to Malmö, Sweden for the Model United Nations of Sweden (MUNOS) conference on May 26-28, 2014. A Palestinian delegation to this Model United Nations would be a first and it would be especially advantageous since a topic of this conference is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Fundraising is ongoing for this trip.

Not only is the ELCJHL hoping to send students internationally for MUN conferences, but is also hoping to conduct their own MUN conferences. In April 2014, the ELCJHL is hoping to have an MUN conference for all ELCJHL schools and, if funding can be secured, an international LuthMUN in 2015.

We wish our students luck in their upcoming competitions!

Bishop Younan Speaks at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Bishop Munib Younan, Dr. Deborah Weissman, and Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Bishop Munib Younan, Dr. Deborah Weissman, and Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

On Monday, February 17th, Bishop Munib Younan presented a lecture at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, sponsored by both the institute itself and The Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, entitled “The Approach of the Lutheran Church to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.”

Greetings were given by Professor Gabriel Motzkin, Director of The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the event was moderated by Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, Director of The Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI).

Speaking to a packed audience, Bishop Younan spoke on three points: the approach of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan to peace-building through education; interfaith dialogue and building peace through measures such as the textbook analysis by the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land (CRIHL); and peace and justice in the Holy Land and the status of Jerusalem.

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