(middle) LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan at the launch of “Welcoming the Stranger” © UNHCR
UNHCR Initiative Supports Refugees’ Protection and Promotes Interreligious Cooperation
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has endorsed a historic code of conduct declaration that calls for faith leaders, faith-based organizations and communities to enhance efforts to embrace and support millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people, and to stand united against xenophobia.
“I fully endorse the ‘Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders’” Younan told over 150 participants including religious leaders, diplomats and representatives from 25 faith based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the 12 June “Affirmations” document launch, hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The declaration is the culmination of a High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Faith and Protection convened last December by UNHCR chief, Mr António Guterres, and attended by representatives of major faith groups and academics. It concluded with a recommendation for the development of a code of conduct for faith leaders, initially suggested by the LWF president and subsequently backed by all participants,
This was followed up with the drafting of the “Affirmations” between February and April by a coalition of faith-based organizations and academic institutions which included, among others, the LWF, Jesuit Refugee Service, Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Council of Churches, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
The text of the declaration draws upon principles and values of welcome that are deeply rooted in all major religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. It is expected to be used worldwide to foster support for refugees and other people displaced in their communities.
Dormition Abbey vandalized (© Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
JERUSALEM, 3rd June, 2013 - During the month of May an unprecedented number of sites holy to all three religions have been attacked, some repeatedly. Synagogues in Bat Yam and Haifa, a mosque in Umm Al-Qutuf, graves in As-Sawiya, and the Church of the Dormition on Mount Zion have all been desecrated with offensive graffiti. The Council views these attacks on Holy sites as despicable and believes they contribute to a divisive and hostile environment.
The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land calls on the police forces and respective municipalities to do their utmost to prevent such attacks and restore safety and respect for Holy Sites of all religions.
The press release in Arabic and links to follow for more information are after the jump.
Bishop Munib Younan with organ donated by the Grand Priory of Denmark of the OSMTH. (© Grand Priory of Denmark)
The ELCJHL would like to sincerely thank the Grand Priory of Denmark of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (OSMTH) for their donation of a church bell and an organ for the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. We greatly appreciate this gift. If you would like to provide a donation to the ELCJHL to help furnish the church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, please contact us directly in order to appropriately receive your greatly appreciated contribution.
“We do not live in the mentality of the ghetto, nor in the mentality of a minority complex, nor do we live as dhimmi (dependent) people,” said Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan. “We have always been, as Arab Christians, building our societies, loyal to our countries and nationalities, bringing hope in hopeless situations.”
A Palestinian Christian from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Younan was speaking at the joint World Council of Churches and Middle East Council of Churches conference on the Christian presence and witness in the Middle East, on 22 May in Beirut, Lebanon.
In his speech, Younan said that the process of reform continues to be at the heart of every Arab and Middle Eastern Christian. Their hopes, he said, will not end until they see the Middle East transformed through the values that Arab Christians cherish.
He particularly stressed a stronger engagement between Christians and Muslims. “Dialogue is important in some contexts, but we need full engagement. We need engagement with all monotheistic faiths, especially Muslims,” he said.
National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Susan Johnson and Bishop Munib Younan shake hands after signing a mutual partnership agreement. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)
BEIT JALA – On Tuesday, May 14th, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Bishop Susan Johnson, signed a mutual partnership agreement between the ELCJHL, ELCIC, and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). The ELCJHL is happy to continue its work with both the ELCIC and the CLWR.
JERUSALEM – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land sadly announces the death of Rev. Numan Smir, retired pastor of the ELCJHL. Rev. Smir served the church in a number of capacities, at one point being president of the Synod. His pastoral career began at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala before he helped found the Good Shepherd Church in Amman, Jordan, a community that he served from 1976 until his retirement in 1992. Rev. Numan Smir died on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at the age of 81. The ELCJHL sends their condolences to Rev. Smir’s wife May and his children, Bassam, Husam, and Marwan. The funeral service will take place Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Amman, Jordan. We ask for your prayers at this time.
Bishop Younan and Bishop Pryse of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada shake hands after signing a mutual partnership agreement. © Danae Hudson/ELCJHL
JERUSALEM – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada signed an agreement during the Arabic Speaking service of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on April, 28, 2013 to become companion churches. The agreement was signed by Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and Bishop Michael Pryse of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Bishop Younan thanked Bishop Pryse for accepting his invitation to become companion churches: “Dear Bishop Pryse, we thank you for accepting our invitation to be a partner of our church. I sent that invitation one year ago and you took us very seriously. You came with a group to this country in order to sign this agreement of mutual relationship, of accompaniment. We accompany each other, dear sisters and brothers in Christ. Many would say: what does a partnership mean? What does accompaniment mean? Certainly it won’t mean that we are only good personal friends…it means, “What can we learn from each other? What can we learn from the Canadian, Christian Lutherans and what can they learn from us? No church is so big that it cannot learn from other churches and no church is so small that it doesn’t have spiritual talents…please pray for us and thank you for this accompaniment.”
The judges and winners of the First Annual UN Interfaith World Harmony Week (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)
On April 25, 2013, ambassadors, diplomats, and religious leaders from around the world convened at the Baptismal Site of Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan for the First Annual World Interfaith Harmony Week competition. The competition, under the patronage of King Abdullah II of Jordan, is part of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week that started in 2011. Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, who was deputized for the event, presented the prizes to the winners. All the judges were in attendance, including the Chairwoman of the Interfaith Harmony Week ceremony, Her Royal Highness Princess Areej Ghazi of Jordan; Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Bishop Munib Younan thanked the winners and all those who submitted applications for the competition for their steadfastness in the face of extremism and hate: “I always say that it is an art to live with others in peace and harmony, to equally share the country. All of you who achieve this are artists. You are the artists of harmony.”
First prize was accepted by Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye the Interfaith Mediation Centre, Kaduna of Nigeria for their event “Imam & Pastor from Vengeance to Forgiveness,” a documentary on their journey from hate to reconciliation. Second prize was accepted by Dr. Santanina Tillah Rasul, Omuhani Mabandes, and Salma Rasul, Esq. for their interfaith dialogue event, “A Common Word Towards A Common Peace” put together by the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. Third prize was awarded to the Department of National Unity and Integration in Malaysia for their ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week Malaysia 2013’ and was accepted by Dato’ Azman Amin bin Hassan, Rev. Dr. Thomas Philips, and Mr. Wan Burhan bin Wan Ismail.
To see photos of the event, visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.
To listen to Bishop Munib Younan’s speech, click here.
With anger and dismay, we have heard the news of the abduction of Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo (brother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East), and Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo. We strongly condemn this heinous act.
The conflict in Syria is neither religious nor sectarian, but political. We urge all sides to refrain from using religion as a weapon in this conflict. These bishops were with some of their priests and deacons (one of whom was killed as he was driving). We know very well that the role these bishops are playing in Aleppo is to encourage the Syrian Christians, and strengthen them to remain in their land. As their brothers and sisters in the ELCJHL, we demand the immediate release of these two bishops, and that they be unharmed—in good health, with no trauma.
We call upon Arab and Middle East Christians and Muslims of goodwill to join forces for peace and justice in resolving this problem. We ask for prayers for the Syrian people, and for those who have been abducted without cause, particularly these bishops, who are simply being faithful shepherds of their people.
Every day, my heart aches with each new report of bloodshed and violence. Bloodshed like this will only bring hatred, revenge, and retaliation; not reform or peace. We call on all governments of the world to discontinue providing weapons for all sides in this conflict and demand a return to diplomatic relations so that people can live with dignity and their full human rights.
Furthermore, as one of the presidents of the MECC, I stand in solidarity with the Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox church, with the diocese and with the patriarchs of the churches, remembering the words of Jesus Christ:
“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).
LWF President, Bishop Munib A. Younan © ELCH/Zsuzsanna Horváth-Bolla
GENEVA, 12 April 2013 (LWI) – The first-ever global Arms Trade Treaty will be an important tool for peaceful and non-violent resolution of conflicts, with justice and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, says Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
In a statement today welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United Nations General Assembly on 2 April, Younan emphasized, “Our world needs more justice and human rights, not more guns. The Arms Trade Treaty will help make that possible.”