Bishop Munib Younan Receives Honorary Doctorate from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtät Münster

Bishop Munib Younan
EhrendoktorwÅrden Evangelisch-Theologische FakultÑt 2
Bishop Munib Younan stands with Prof. Dr. Hermut Löhr, Dean of Theology at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtät Münster, as well as Prof. Dr. William Horbury, who was also awarded the prize. (© WWU, Peter Grewer)

On Wednesday, November 19th, 2014, Bishop Munib Younan was bestowed with the title of Doctor Theologiae Honoris Causa from the Protestant Theological Faculty of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universtät Münster for his work to bring peace to the Middle East.

Bishop thanked the gathered community for the honor bestowed upon himself and his church and spoke on the work being done in the Middle East, as well as his hopes to see what happened in Germany regarding the Berlin Wall happen in Palestine and Israel as well: “What happened to the wall in Berlin is a sign of hope for us in the Holy Land. It is my hope that the concrete and steel used to build walls today will soon be used by Palestinian and Israeli children to build bridges of understanding, justice, and reconciliation.”

Congratulations and mabrouk to Bishop Dr. Munib Younan on this achievement.

To read Bishop Younan’s full sermon, you can download it here. (PDF)
To read the Laudatio for Bishop Dr. Munib Younan presented by Professor Dr. Hans-Peter Grosshans, you can download it here. (PDF)
To read about the ceremony in German, you can visit here.

Statement issued by the Heads of churches and the Council of Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – On  November 10, 2014,  corresponding to the 17 of Muharram 1436H, a senior delegation of Patriarchs and Bishops of the Holy City and representatives of all the churches in Jerusalem visited the Haram Asharif compound.  They were received by the Chairman and members of the Islamic Waqf Council and senior staff of Awqaf and governor of Jerusalem.
The two sides stressed the following principles:
1.                 The historical (Status quo) situation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram Asharif) and its courtyard, all buildings, and in the city of Jerusalem, should not be changed;
2.                 They emphasized full right of Muslims to worship and freedom of access to the Al Aqsa Mosque and its exclusive ownership by Muslims of all the world.
3.                 They stressed the importance of the custody of the Hashemite kingdom on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy Islamic and Christian places in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
4.                 They underlined the continuity of the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Covenant that brings Christians and Muslims together as one of fraternal coexistence in the Holy City, which is unique in the entire world.  This covenant respects the rights of Christians to worship and the full practice of their religion.
Both sides committed to pray for the end of injustice and the establishment of security and peace in this city, which should be a model of peaceful coexistence.

Bishop Munib Younan Receives 2014 Civis Mundi Award

Bishop Munib Younan receives 2014 Civis Mundi Award
Bishop Munib Younan receives 2014 Civis Mundi Award
Bishop Munib Younan receives the 2014 Civis Mundi Award (© Susan Johnson)

WATERLOO, CANADA – On Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, Bishop Munib Younan was awarded the 2014 Civis Muni Award for Global Citizenship by the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in Waterloo, Canada.  The award is being presented to Bishop Younan for his dedication to bringing peace to the Middle East.  The award is given to those who embody global citizenship and who tirelessly work towards peace, justice, and integrity.  The award is in recognition of Bishop Younan’s efforts through both the ELCJHL and the global Lutheran communion to bring peace based on justice to the Middle East.

It [the award] tells us, ‘Don’t grow tired. Continue your good work to bring peace based on justice, to combat any types of extremism, and to continue to strengthen Christians in this county,”’ Younan said before the event.

Bishop Younan is an international religious leader who has dedicated his life and ministry to building bridges across the borders of separation,” said David Pfrimmer, Principal-Dean of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. “It is an honour for us to be able recognize him and the challenge to follow his example.”

Mabrouk and Congratulations to Bishop Munib Younan on the 2014 Civis Muni Award!

Watch Bishop Younan receive the 2014 Civis Mundi Award here.

To read Bishop Younan’s acceptance speech, you can download it here (Word).

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

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

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

Pope Francis Prays at the Separation Wall
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

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

Bishop Younan Denounces Threats Against Arab Christians

A threatening letter was sent to the General Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate in Nazareth, Boulos Marcuzzo, which stated that Arab Christians had until May 5th, 2014 to leave the country. If they did not leave, 100 Christians would be killed for each hour of delay.

A person of interest from Safed was arrested and questioned by police.

Bishop Younan denounces these threats. We stand in solidarity with Vicar Boulos Marcuzzo and we ask the authorities not only to denounce these threats, but to take serious measures to bring this person to justice.

These threats only add more fuel to the conflict. Christians have lived in this land for 2,000 years, acting always as instruments of peace; bridge builders; brokers of justice; ministers of reconciliation, defenders of human rights, including gender justice; defenders of freedom and of religion. We are an integral part of our people and to our society. It is very important that these threats do not take on a life of their own and derail us further.

We promise those who threaten us: we have been here for 2,000 years and we plan to be here for another 2,000 years.

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

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)
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.