Bishop Younan Releases Statement Concerning The Tabgha Arson

TIBERIAS, Israel – July 14th, 2015

Dear Fathers,

We have come from Jerusalem to stand in solidarity with the brother monks of this monastery after the arson and burning of this historic Church. The atrocity is not only against you and this particular church vicinity, but against every Christian and believer in the One True God, and must be denounced vehemently. This Church was built on the real story of the blessing of the loaves and fish, and despite the atrocity against it, it will survive the hatred and will remain a spiritual haven and blessing to all who enter its doors.

Dear Fathers,

The problem which we face is sadly the recurrence of these incidents on religious sites. We have heard recently the authorities arrested suspects who are thought to be the perpetrators. We strongly recommend that they are taken into justice. However, the problem is much deeper and succinct: the prevalence of intolerance, religious bigotry and discrimination. This, in turn, creates a mentality of non-acceptance of diversity and of the otherness of the other.

The Lutheran Church demands a change in the public discourse, a total reform of the education systems and complete transformation of how one sees the other who is different. There is absolutely no other solution in this place other than educating our children to tolerate and co-exist with other religions in the region: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

If this Country wishes to continue being seen as Holy, this is only possible through egalitarian right, and freedom of religion where every religion has the right to equally worship the One Holy True God and to equally respect the Church as the Synagogue as the Mosque.

We are saddened by the silence vis-à-vis these atrocities. To be silent is to allow the extremists including the perpetrators to turn us to hostages and pawns. We demand that all believers in God speak up and raise their voices to denounce hostile acts such as this venomous act.

Once we speak up, then future generations would learn to accept the other who is different. This way, we promote peace and justice, living with others and reconciliation which are desperately needed in this Country.

May this venomous act be the last and may the minds of those who deny others a dignified life accept diversity as a norm and as projection of God’s multi-genius creation of human beings.

Jesus consoles us by saying: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

May God bless you and continue to protect you to further God’s kingdom in this Holy Land.

Hope does not disappoint – LWF Council meeting 2015

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib Younan delivers his address at the 2014 Council meeting. Photo- M. Renaux
LWF President Bishop Dr Munib Younan delivers his address at the 2014 Council meeting. Photo- M. Renaux
LWF President Bishop Dr Munib Younan delivers his address at the 2014 Council meeting. Photo- M. Renaux

 

LWF Council to meet in Geneva

GENEVA, 10 June 2015 (LWI) – Communion self-understanding and the 2017 Assembly and Reformation anniversary are among key discussions that will feature at The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council meeting in Geneva, 18-22 June.

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan will deliver his address on this year’s thematic focus, “Hope does not disappoint.”

The report of the General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge will offer highlights of the work carried out by the Communion Office since last year’s Council meeting in Medan, Indonesia. He will introduce a study document, The Self-Understanding of the Lutheran Communion, and a comprehensive concept towards a sustainable LWF.

Christina Jackson-Skelton, chairperson of the Finance Committee, will provide an overview of the 2014 financial results and other matters related to the organization’s financial decisions and projections.

With just two years before the Twelfth Assembly, this year’s Council will receive the final report of the Assembly Planning Committee and its recommendations. These include a draft program for LWF’s highest decision-making body, which will meet 10-16 May 2017 in Windhoek, Namibia, coinciding with the Reformation anniversary commemorations.

This year’s Council will continue follow up discussions on a joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, building on the document From Conflict to Communion, by both partners.

Worship life is a central feature of LWF meetings, and this year’s Council opening service will be held at the Ecumenical Center chapel on 18 June. The remaining days will include morning prayers and Bible studies, evening devotions and Sunday worship at the St Pierre Cathedral in Geneva.

The 49-member LWF Council and advisers represent lay and ordained men, women and youth from the LWF member churches across the world. The LWF observes a quota representation of 40 percent women, 40 percent men and 20 percent youth.

As LWF President, Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, chairs the Council meeting. Staff from the respective LWF departments and invited guests also participate.

To read this in its original format, you can view it on the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) website.

 

PHOTOS: Easter Celebrations at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah

RAMALLAH – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Hope in Ramallah celebrated Easter Sunday on April 12th, 2015.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope – as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman, Jordan – celebrate on an ecumenical calendar.  These two congregations celebrate together with their Orthodox brothers and sisters for Easter while Orthodox congregations celebrate on the Lutheran/Western calendar for Christmas.

The Mayor of Ramallah, Mr. Mousa Hadded, attend the service.  After the sermon, Rev. Imad Haddad honored Mr. Muneer Zananiri for his care of the church over the years.

 

PHOTOS: Joint Arabic and English Easter Service and Egg Hunt

JERUSALEM – The Arabic and English Speaking Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem shared a joint celebration for Easter on April 5th, 2015.  The sermon was given by Bishop Munib Younan in both Arabic and English.  Visitors from around the world attended, including a group of Jewish Israelis who were touring the Old City.

After the service, an Easter egg hunt was held for the children of both congregations.

 

PHOTOS: Good Friday Ecumenical Via Dolorosa Walk

JERUSALEM – The Lutheran and Anglican churches joined for the Good Friday Via Dolorosa Walk on Friday, April 3rd, 2015.  The walk follows what is traditionally known as the “Way of Pain” and the procession of Jesus Christ to the cross.  The walk ended at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem with prayers and veneration of the cross.

PHOTOS: 2015 Maundy Thursday

JERUSALEM – The Arabic, English, and German Speaking Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem joined together for the Maundy Thursday Service on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015.  Reflections were given in both English and German and the Gospel was read in Arabic by Bishop Munib Younan.  Prayers were read in Arabic, English, German, as well as Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Danish.  Ecumenical clergy attended the service, including Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterian.  At the end of the service, clergy gathered to strip the altar and met the congregation outside.

After the service, the congregation gathered outside the church to process through the Old City.  Children, women, and men from the Arabic Speaking Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer carried the cross during the procession through the Old City to the Garden of Gethsemane.  At the garden, a candlelight prayer service was held.

PHOTOS: Arabic Speaking Congregation of Jerusalem Celebrates Palm Sunday

JERUSALEM – The Arabic Speaking Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem celebrated Palm Sunday at the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives.  Children processed around the chapel with palms and were blessed by Bishop Munib Younan.

During the service, Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM) Coordinator, Julie Rossate, presented Rev. Sani Ibrahim Azar and the Arabic Speaking Congregation of Jerusalem with a mosaic from their partner Rock Spring Congregational Church in Arlington, Virginia.

Christian Love and Dialogue Can Influence Middle East Crisis – LWF

Students from the kindergarten of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour take a break from learning their Arabic alphabet to pose for a photo. Photo: ELCJHL
Students from the kindergarten of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour take a break from learning their Arabic alphabet to pose for a photo. Photo: ELCJHL
Students from the kindergarten of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour take a break from learning their Arabic alphabet to pose for a photo. Photo: ELCJHL

LWF President Younan’s Public Lecture in Beirut

(LWI) – Rampant religious fanaticism in the Middle East calls Lutherans and other Christians to secure a shared future for all through love and dialogue, said Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

Younan made these remarks on 19 March, when he delivered a public lecture on “Reformation and Politics” at the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, Lebanon. The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) emphasized that Lutherans don’t seek to “Christianize” politics but to improve society through engagement.

“Although Christians are numerical minorities in the Middle East, we can have tremendous influence to utilize for the benefit of all persons and communities in our region,” Younan said in his paper focusing on “Lutheran Contributions to the Political Life of the Middle East.”

He was responding to a presentation by Rev. Dr Margot Kässmann, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) special envoy for the 2017 Reformation Jubilee.

“Constitutional development is a central concern for the rebuilding of the Middle East. In that process, Arab Christians emphasize commitment to equal citizenship with equal rights and equal responsibilities,” Younan said.

The LWF president said Lutherans should know that Martin Luther, who triggered the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, would find the suffering being endured by the people of Iraq and Syria reason to involve himself in such a crisis.

Luther would question the false distinction between religion and politics, promote interfaith engagement, address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a factor contributing to the current religiously-sanctioned fanaticism and promote moderation, the bishop noted.

“As a leader from a minority movement himself, Luther would no doubt understand us when we say that our danger is not in living with the ‘Other’ but when fanatics seek to persecute us,” Younan said in his address.

He pointed to the historic document From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 to illustrate Lutheran ecumenical accountability, which emphasizes unity, transformation, the power of Jesus Christ and joint witness.

“Together, we show that the church of Jesus Christ is indeed always engaged in reform and renewal,” he said.

The waves of violence that have overtaken the Middle East have disproportionately affected the small Christian communities there, Younan said, adding that all communities are potential victims of the ongoing violence.

“Lutheran reflections on the proper authority of church and government can help shape how all communities in the Middle East move forward toward a shared future,” he concluded.

The ELCJHL bishop is on the board of NEST, an inter-confessional Protestant institution that trains pastors and other church workers in the Middle East for ministry in the churches and their related organizations.

To read the article in it’s original format, you can visit the website of the Lutheran World Federation.
To read Bishop Munib Younan’s entire speech, you can download it here. (Word)

World Council of Churches (WCC) Delegation Visits Holy Land

Participants in a meeting with church leaders hosted at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem by Patriarch Fouad Twal. (© WCC/Marianne Ejdersten)
Participants in a meeting with church leaders hosted at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem by Patriarch Fouad Twal. (© WCC/Marianne Ejdersten)
Participants in a meeting with church leaders hosted at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem by Patriarch Fouad Twal. (© WCC/Marianne Ejdersten)

JERUSALEM – Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), as well as Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Metropolitan Dr Gennadios of Sassima and Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice-moderators of the Central Committee, spent time with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land during their pilgrimage to Palestine and Israel on March 7th-12th, 2015.

The delegation held worship at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem with Propst Wolfgang Schmidt, Representative of the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (EKD) in Jerusalem and Rev. Carrie Smith, pastor of the English-Speaking Congregation in Jerusalem and Special Assistant to Bishop Munib Younan on Monday, March 9th, 2015.  At the conclusion of worship, the group went together to visit the Haram Esh-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque where they met with the director of the Islamic Waqf in charge of the holy site.

As well as visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the delegation, with Bishop Munib Younan, were invited with the Heads of Churches to an official lunch at the Latin Patriarchate by Patriarch Fuod Twal.

“Our role is to give Christian witness to the world and work for justice and peace,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit in regards to his visit to the Holy Land.

The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, including Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox Church, Patriarch Fuod Twal of the Latin Church, and Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL, held a discussion with the WCC delegation on the significance of ecumenism in a time of growing extremism.  In regards to the talk and the visit, Bishop Munib Younan stated, “The more we feel united, the more we can combat any kind of extremism that is existing in the Middle East.”

To read more about the WCC visit, you can visit their website.