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.

To read the article at it’s original site, you can visit Ammon News.

ELCA presiding bishop joins call for peace in the Holy Land

CHICAGO (E​LCA) – As the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip further escalates, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, pre​siding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), expressed her profound concern for members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in a July 17, 2014, letter to that denomination’s bishop, the Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan.

            “Our hearts are heavy as we read about and see images of the violence being inflicted on both Israelis and Palestinians. This suffering and loss of life are inexcusable before God. As followers with you of the Prince of Peace, and as children of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, we long for peace and a just resolution to the escalating conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people,” Eaton wrote, adding that she is responding directly to Younan’s call to participate in interventions and actions “to create hope in a hopeless situation.”
In a July 16 public statement, Younan asked that Christians and “all people of good will intervene in the present situation of unacceptable violence and bloodshed.” He said, “If we cannot take steps towards 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.”
In her letter to Younan, Eaton shared that “we join you in your call for a cessation of all hostilities between Israel and Hamas and a return to direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution and adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law.”
The ELCA presiding b​ishop wrote that she will encourage all ELCA congregations to continue their prayers for peace in the Holy Land, including participation in “a minute of silence” during Sunday worship.
Although her intended visit to Jordan and the Holy Land scheduled for later this month has been postponed, Eaton told Younan that she looks “forward to our time together.” In her letter, she noted the “steadfastness” of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land: “The church’s strong witness for coexistence grounded in peace with justice permeates every level of congregational, educational and diaconal service. Our faith is strengthened by knowing how, even in the midst of great difficulties, the Body of Christ is working in Palestine and Jordan for the good of all communities.
“Along with the witness of your pastors and lay leaders, your witness, Bishop Younan, has strengthened our confidence that peace can indeed be achieved among the two peoples and three religions that share the Holy Land. Your statements, speeches and sermons have been a model for promoting both political and interreligious coexistence, along with your strong support of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which you helped found,” Eaton wrote.
The ELCA presiding bishop also expressed her gratitude for Younan’s capacity to uplift “the voices of moderation and against extremism.” She expressed her appreciation in particular for the long-standing work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land’s schools in demonstrating “the importance of education through a curriculum based on peace, nonviolence, peaceful co-existence and the strengthening of civil society for the benefit of all communities.”
Through an ELCA “Peace Not Walls” action alert issued July 17, ELCA members are being encouraged to contact members of U.S. Congress to ask for an end “to the latest round of violence.” The alert offers a sample letter which ELCA members can use to contact U.S. Senators and Representatives, featuring elements of Younan’s July 16 statement that calls for the “immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza.”
Younan also calls for the resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace; critical support for healthcare infrastructure; material support for interreligious cooperation and peacebuilding through the educational and diaconal ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and that the global Christian community, including 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 and to help the economic and development of the growth of the Palestinian people.
The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion’s only member church from the United States.

To read the full text of Bishop Eaton’s letter, practice advocacy with the ELCA’s Peace Not Walls Ministry, or read the ELCA’s “Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine,” visit the ELCA’s press release regarding Bishop Eaton’s letter.

An Interview With Bishop Munib Younan On Pope Francis’s Visit to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel

Bishop Younan stands with the Heads of Churches during the Pontifical Mass in Bethlehem

Bishop Younan stands with the Heads of Churches during the Pontifical Mass in Bethlehem (© ELCJHL)

ELCJHL: You were invited to visit Pope Francis in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel?
Bishop Younan: Yes, I was invited to the meeting with Pope Francis in Amman at the King’s Palace. All of the Heads of Churches, the Royal court and governmental ministers, attended this meeting, as well as Pope Francis’s delegation. King Abdullah II delivered a very important speech in which he spoke on two major issues: the role of Jordan in Muslim-Christian relations as highlighted in the Amman Message and the Common Word and the need for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In response, the Pope emphasized the importance of relationships with Muslims and the good work that Jordan has been doing in interfaith work, as well as emphasizing the Christian community that has been quietly witnessing in the Middle East for 2,000 years. The Pope asked to greet this community.

Read King Abdullah II’s speech to Pope Francis

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a clear message on the Palestinian issue that it is time to solve it and that there are obstacles – the settlements, the Judiazation of Jerusalem, but we are still committed to non-violent struggle and for dialogue. Pope Francis’s message to Palestine was that it must have internationally-recognized borders with two states that can live side-by-side in peace, equity, and reconciliation.

Read Pope Francis’s address to representatives of the Palestinian Authority

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Erik Apelgårdh Takes Over COCOP Co-Chair Position

Co-Chair Inken Wöhlbrand stands with newly-elected COCOP Co-Chair Erik Apelgårdh

Co-Chair Inken Wöhlbrand stands with newly-elected COCOP Co-Chair Erik Apelgårdh (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

At the 2014 COCOP, or the The Coordination Committee for Cooperation between the ELCJHL and Overseas Partners, Church of Sweden member Erik Apelgårdh was elected as the new co-chair of the meeting, replacing Inken Wöhlbrand from The United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD).

COCOP was started in 1978 with an aim to support the ELCJHL in its ministries.  It has since turned into a partnership between the ELCJHL and its overseas partners, with voting members from all parties.

Thank you to Inken Wöhlbrand for her years of service as the co-chair for the annual COCOP meeting. As we say goodbye to Inken, we welcome Erik Apelgårdh as the new co-chair and look forward to many fruitful years together.

To view photos from the 2014 COCOP meetings, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.

ELCJHL and Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland Host Second Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Participants of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue pose for a photo during a pause in sessions.

Participants of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue pose for a photo during a pause in sessions.

JERUSALEM – From April 29th to May 1st, 2014, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland continued the discussion started in 2013.  The Jewish-Christian dialogue, led by Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Barbara Rudolph and Rev. Dr. Volker Haarmann of the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland, was a  conference on the meaning of land and water to both faith traditions.  The participants spent three days of discussion on land and water in Scripture and what the passages means for Jewish and Christian self-understanding, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the occupation. Participants included Jewish and Christians leaders from around the world, including Germany, The United States, Palestine, Israel, and Holland.

Bishop Munib Younan opened the conference with readings from the Book of Isaiah and a greeting to all of the participants.  The participants not only discussed water and land, but also visited the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour, where they learned about the ELCJHL Schools and the Vocational Program in Beit Sahour.  Bishop Younan was grateful for the civility and openness of dialogue and stated that he hoped the discussion with the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland would continue.

To see photos from the conference and from the visit to the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.