COCOP Statement on the Annexation Plans of the Israeli Government

A Statement from the Partners of the ELCJHL

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, Peace,” when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14

The international partners of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) at their virtual meeting on June 30, 2020, expressed their great concern about the current political situation in the Holy Land. The members of the Coordination Committee of Overseas Partners of the ELCJHL (COCOP) unanimously declared that the current plans of the Israeli government to annex the Jordan Valley and other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are against international law. The concern is that the annexation plans will lead to more political instability.

The members of COCOP express their concern for peace and the well-being of the people living in Israel and Palestine; Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They confirm their solidarity with their sister church as well as with all other Christians in the Holy Land. They also affirm their commitment to interreligious cooperation and partnership in the Holy Land and beyond. They are afraid that the annexation plans will lead to even more Christian emigration because through annexation many parishioners will lose their land. That means the Christian presence and witness in the Holy Land would continue to diminish. This would cause direct effects also on the spiritual life of the people and on the interfaith dialogue.

They are aware that other organization and churches in different countries have already expressed their deep concerns, such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Canada, and the USA, where the COCOP partners come from. They are aware of the Statement of Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches of Jerusalem of May 7, 2020 as well as the Statement of the Bishop of the ELCJHL, ‘Liberation, Not Annexation,” from Pentecost 2020. In addition, there are many other statements, including an Ecumenical Statement from the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance dated June 29, 2020.

The members of COCOP call upon:

  • the Israeli government to stop the annexation plans and end the occupation
  • the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government to hold Israel accountable if they go ahead with the annexation plans
  • the Palestinian leadership to end internal disagreements and to speak with one voice when opposing the annexation plans of the Israeli government
  • Israeli and Palestinian civil society to speak out against the annexation and advocate for negotiations
  • those with political responsibility in Israel Palestine to resume negotiations to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law and of the internationally agreed call for a two-state solution.

It is the hope of the international partners of the ELCJHL that – together with other churches and church related organizations – all those calls will be heard and the requested actions will be taken. The members of COCOP will continue to stand in solidarity with their sister church, especially in her effort to pray, preach, work, and teach the value of life, understand, and coexistence, and to continue to advocate for their liberation and freedom. The partners together with the ELCJHL will continue to work and pray for reconciliation and peace with justice in Israel and Palestine.

Signed by:

  • Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), Chairperson of COCOP
  • Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Co-Chairperson of COCOP

A Message from COCOP to Bishop Ibrahim Azar

Dear Bishop Azar,

As COCOP partners, we would like to express our appreciation, support and solidarity with you and the leadership of the ELCJHL.

You have had to address numerous internal and external challenges this past year including the situation in Jordan, funding of your important ministries with a skeleton staff, dealing with a global COVID-19 crisis, and figuring out ways to continue caring for the lives of the members of your congregations, employees, students and their families while budgeted income was no longer assured. You did all this while living under the shadow of a challenging pandemic and political situation, which is now culminating in the threat of annexation.

We, therefore, would like you to know that we are united in thanking God for your faithfulness in ministry, and grateful for your leadership under these challenging circumstances. We support the decisions that you have made, including:

  • Raising your voice and reaching out to other faith leaders and the local ecumenical family to denounce violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and we encourage you to continue to do so.
  • The decision taken by the Church leadership regarding the situation in Amman. We know it was done after a lot of prayerful considerations and consultations and in the best interest of the Church.
  • The ELCJHL’s support of her congregations and the most vulnerable families during the COVID-19.
  • The ELCJHL’s emphasis on gender justice, equality, and women empowerment, and we encourage you to continue to do so.
  • The ELCJHL’s approach in dealing with the surrounding turmoil in faithfulness to what Jesus would expect from his church.
  • The ELCJHL’s clear, transparent, and accountable organizational structures and decision-making mechanisms.

We are committed to our mutual agreements with the ELCJHL, and we will continue to accompany you in realizing the ELCJHL’s vision for mission.

Sincerely,

COCOP Partners

Religious Holy Site Visits – Nablus, Samaria

ELCJHL Congregations Begin 2019-20 Tours

Jacob’s Well, Nablus. Photo by Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Jerusalem – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) congregations visited Nablus, the first trip of the second year in a three-year series of religious holy site visits, on Friday 13 September 2019.

Made possible with financial assistance from The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway (CoN), the ELCJHL planned a series of holy site visits for its West Bank and Jerusalem churches.

The initiative began when The ELCJHL Rev. Saliba Rishmawi realized that the new generation of Christians had not visited the holy sites, or as Rev. Rishmawi calls them, “The Fifth Gospel.”

With the blessings of The ELCJHL Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, Rev. Rishmawi developed a series of holy site tours that will continue for the next two years.

Last year, Rev. Rishmawai said, “What we are doing is more than a trip, it is a spiritual journey.”

On Friday, the ecumenical journey began at the Greek Orthodox Church of Jacob’s Well (John 4:5-6), to The Greek Melkite Catholic Church of Nablus, to The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church – Rafidia, to St. Justin Latin Church- Rafidia, and to The Samaritan Museum on Mount Gerizim, Nablus. The Lutherans were greeted at the crypt of Jacob’s Well by Anglican priest, The Rev. Jamil Khadir and his assistant, who accompanied the group around the city and led worship service with communion at The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. At each church, clergy welcomed the group of 50 with a presentation about the their church and ministries in Nablus.

The group was provided a traditional Arab lunch of salads and grilled chicken midday of the tour.

During lunch a few of the members talked about the importance of this visit to the neighboring town of Nablus.

“From Beit Sahour [where I live] to Ramallah takes me two hours and another hour to Nablus, because we are not allowed to pass through Jerusalem without permission [from the Israeli government],” said Ms. Widad Isaid of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour.

By gathering with the church it makes the trip less hectic because members can pass through Jerusalem on a tour with the church’s endorsement. A bus began in Beit Sahour, gathered passengers in Beit Jala/Bethlehem passed through Jerusalem picking up one member then to Ramallah before arriving in Nablus.

“It is good for the people of the land to see the land. Nobody knows these places even though they are close and so this is why we need this conference.

Ms. Rema Tannous of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope – Ramallah

For example, Ms. Isaid was surprised to learn that of the 250,000 people living in Nablus only 650 are Christians and of the Christians only 200 are Latin Catholics. There are no Lutherans living in Nablus.

Ms. Noha Awwad of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour said it was fascinating to hear the priest [Rev. Khadir] tell how the Israelis frequently try to occupy the Church of Jacob’s Well and it is the Muslim community that surrounds the church to protect it.

Although the churches are not geographically far away – the farthest within the West Bank is Ramallah approximately 21 km away and the farthest of the seven is in Amman, Jordan – members of the seven churches rarely congregate with each other. This is partly due to the difficulties in navigating checkpoints and border crossings that separate the West Bank communities, but also due to the lack of ELCJHL coordinated events for all of the churches.

Many of the members who attended Friday’s trip talked about loneliness after the loss of a spouse or the inability to visit long-time friends of whom they can no longer see regularly because of travel restrictions.

“I have been to these places before because I live in Jerusalem,” said Ms. Mary Mirziam of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer – Jerusalem. “But I enjoy going to the sites with friends that I grew up with 30 years ago.”

Ms. Miriziam lost her husband 23 years ago.

The Rev. Said Ailabouni of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) who is visiting from Chicago said the trip was well planned and the opportunity to talk directly to the clergy from each site was quite remarkable.

“The lively discussion that happened at the Samaritan Museum between members and the clergy challenged the Samaritan leader who said he welcomed this open dialogue and our people thinking for themselves,” Rev. Ailabouni commented.

The next trips are planned for 11th October when the ELCJHL staff will visit Haifa and 25th October to Jenin.

The first year groups visited Tiberias/Capernaum, St. Peter’s Church, the Sea of Galilee, Jericho, the Qumran Community, the Jordan River, Haifa, Zacchaeus’ Sycamore Tree, the Dead See Scrolls, Stella Maris Monastery and the cave of Elijah.

Full Photo Gallery

Holy Site Visits

Trip a First For Many Members

“Mother and Child” photo by Adrainne Gray/ELCJHL

Jerusalem – With financial assistance from The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway (CoN), The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) planned a series of Holy site visits for its West Bank and Jerusalem churches.

The initiative began with ELCJHL Rev. Saliba Rishmawi when he realized that the new generation of Christians had not visited the holy sites, or as Rev. Rishmawi calls them, “The Fifth Gospel.”

Although the churches are not geographically far away – the farthest within the West Bank is Ramallah approximately 21 km away and the farthest of the seven is in Amman, Jordan – members of the seven churches rarely congregate with each other. This is partly due to the difficulties in navigating “security” checkpoints and border crossings that separate the West Bank communities, but also due to the lack of ELCJHL coordinated events.

With the blessings of ELCJHL Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, The Rev. Saliba Rishmawi developed a series of Holy site tours.

The first of the religious site trips was to the Northern Region on February 15, 2019 where the members visited Capernaum sites: The Church of the Multiplication, Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, the Church and House of Peter and Peter’s Mother-in-law, and the Sea of Galilee.

I believe that these kinds of visits bring faith to the hearts of our people.

Elias – TourGuide

Then the group traveled by bus to Nazareth visiting the four-room multimedia dramatic film production of Mary and Jesus at the Centre International Marie de Nazareth and the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Due to complications at the checkpoint leaving Ramallah, the group’s trip started three hours after the planned start time and some sites were missed.

Even though the Holy sites are within the same country, due to permitting and movement restrictions around the country for Palestinians, many had never seen any of the actual sites of their faith.

“We have to receive permission to come here, and then once we receive permission we cannot come with our cars [with West Bank license plates] so we have to arrange with a group to come to these places, and most of the time it is the churches that make these arrangements for us,” said Mr. Bashar Qaqunda of Ramallah.

Another church member from Bethlehem said he brought his young family because he wasn’t sure if his children would ever be allowed to come in the future. He described the trip as possibly a once-in-a-life-time opportunity.

“Rain Fall, The End of a Long Day” photo by Adrainne Gray/ELCJHL

At the end of the day, the forecasted rain fell as members waited for the buses to pick up after the long day that began at 5 a.m., however, remaining thankful for the trip.

“It was good today that we had a tour leader that was very good that gives us all the information and has the best knowledge about these churches,” Mrs. Basma Amro of Beit Jala said about Elias.

The next trips are planned for March 22, April 12 and May 3; visiting the Qumran – Deadsea Scroll sites, Jerusalem Holy sites, Jericho and Nablus sites.

Link to photo gallery click “Recent Galleries”

COCOP Resources

Only participants with the link can view this page.

2020 “Virtual” COCOP Resources

They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.

Jeremiah 6:14

Below, find the Agenda for the COCOP 2020 meetings, held at Abrahams Herberge in Beit Jala for local partners and via Zoom for international partners.

COCOP 2020 Agenda

Each of the following reports is downloadable and able to be viewed on an electronic reader or printed. To download the report to your personal device, click on the arrow pointing “down” in the upper right hand corner of the document.

COCOP 2020 Full Reports is optimized for online reading and includes the Bishop’s Report, the Congregational Reports, and the Additional Reports in a single document. It features internal hyperlinks which allow you to easily navigate between the sections of the report. Simply click on the name of the report you would wish to view in the Table of Contents on the second page. When you have finished reading that section, you can click [ Return to Table of Contents ] to select a new section.

COCOP 2020 Full Reports

The Bishop’s Report, Congregational Reports, and Additional Reports are optimized for printing, but can also be viewed on an electronic reader.

2020 Bishop’s Report

2020 Congregational Reports

2020 Additional Reports

2020 Educational Ministries Report

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jdfruxkg1fjwyp8/Educational%20Ministries%20COCOP%202020.pdf?dl=0

Bishop Azar Addresses ELCJHL Partners

Bishop Ibrahim Azar speaks to the ELCJHL partners on Saturday, January 13, his first full day as bishop of the church. Pictured, (left) Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Bishop Susan Johnson of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.  Photo by Ben Gray / ELCJHL

Jerusalem, 13 January 2018 – The day after the consecration of The Rev. Sani Ibrahim Azar as the fourth Palestinian Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), Bishop Azar addressed the international partner churches in attendance for the installation. The international partners of the ELCJHL include organizations, churches and councils that have entered into mutual companionship and accompaniment for the betterment of both.

Representatives from all of the 29 ecumenical partners, member organizations and companion churches attended the first address to them from the newly consecrated, Bishop Azar.

Bishop Azar casually stood in front of the group gathered in the refectory hall of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City without a podium and without notes and greeted the longtime friends and supporters of the Palestinian Lutheran church.

In a gentle and measured manner,  Bishop Azar thanked partners for decades of missional work in the region. Peppered with humor, Bishop Azar told the partners that he would implement a new strategic plan for the next five years that would include: Spiritual care for the people of the church, financial sustainability projects, Diakonia to the community, and efforts to continue gender justice.

“Our pastors and laypeople will go where the people are, we will not sit by idly in our churches waiting for the people to come to us,” Bishop Azar said.

During the question and answer session of the address, Bishop Susan Johnson of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the President of The Coordination Committee for Cooperation between the ELCJHL and Overseas Partners (COCOP) asked Bishop Azar which of his many names (Sani Ibrahim “Barhoum” Charlie Azar) should the partners to use.

“In writing, Bishop Ibrahim Azar and in speaking, Bishop Barhoum,” Bishop Azar humbly replied with a smile.

Photo Gallery of the Address

Celebrating 30 Years of Ministry

ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan pulls away the veil of the monument placed on site at Christmas Lutheran Church commemorating The Rev. Mitri Raheb’s 30 years at the Bethlehem church as pastor. Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Bethlehem – The Church, community, family, and friends came together today, June 9, 2017, to celebrate 30 years of faithful service to The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church by The Rev. Mitri Raheb. – The Church, community, family, and friends came together today, June 9, 2017, to celebrate 30 years of faithful service to The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church by The Rev. Mitri Raheb.

Sunday, June 4th was the last worship service presided by Rev. Raheb at Christmas Lutheran. Rev. Raheb will remain an ELCJHL ordained minister with a concentrated focus on the Diyar Consortium. Diyar is a collaboration of college, and wellness, arts and cultural centers in Bethlehem for community enrichment.

The small Bethlehem church was packed with beloved friends, parishioners, ELCJHL clergy, representatives from the Palestinian Authority; including the Mayor of Bethlehem, Mr. Tony Salman. The ecumenical public support for Rev. Raheb’s shift from the pastor of a parish to the full-time minister and manager of Diyar was also present. In attendance was the Greek Orthodox Bishop Attalah Hanna, Latin Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabah, the Palestinian Ambassador to the Vatican Mr. Issa Kassissieh, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Christian Relations Mr. Ziad Bandak.

The Finland Ambassador to Palestine, Ms. Anu Saarela and German Representative to Palestine, Mr. Peter Beerwerth came to honor Rev. Raheb’s work in the church and in the global arena. The Coordination Committee for Cooperation between the ELCJHL and Overseas Partners (COCOP), representing nine international Lutheran churches and organizations, also honored the international relationship Rev. Raheb has cultivated.

Rev. Raheb was honored in sermons and speeches for his daily dedication to the church and the empowerment of his people in the face of persecution while living under 50 years of occupation. It was said that his gentle spirit, tenacity toward change, justice, equality and business sense are his marks of excellence. It was said that Rev. Raheb always uplifts others to take pride in being born in the very place where Jesus was born, and to not give up hope in the power of the cross, which he discusses in his latest publication co-authored with Dr. Suzanne Watts Henderson, The Cross in Contexts: Suffering and Redemption in Palestine.

Patriarch Emeritus Sabah, jokingly referred to Rev. Raheb as Obama Obama, making reference to Rev. Raheb’s German Media Award in 2011 given to leaders who demonstrate exceptional excellence, vision, and leadership. In May, the same award was presented to Former U.S. President Barack Obama in Berlin.

There was praise as Rev. Raheb was referred to as a gardener of the people and of the community. He is known for community redevelopment or planting new olive trees where war and poverty had demolished others. His peers were referring to his work at Diyar Consortium as a large part of that redevelopment in Bethlehem. Diyar was created in 1995 out of the destruction from the second Intifada that ravished Bethlehem economically and socially. The center offers a place to create art, learn skills, and reclaim heritage through its many community outreach programs.

This is where Rev. Raheb will consolidate his ministerial and managerial work. It was said that his ministry broadens beyond parish ministry.

He was lauded as a Palestinian Liberation Theologian who speaks unwaveringly with boldness, courage, and gentleness about the plight of the Palestinian people.

The Rev. Munther Isaac succeeds Rev. Raheb as the pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church – Bethlehem.

Arabic Language Press Release:  Arabic Language Press Release

Live Stream: https://youtu.be/Zw5xjX7QX58

Rev. Mitri’s Farewell Address:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.elcjhl.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Farewell-Address-of-the-Rev.pdf” title=”Farewell Address of the Rev”]

Bishop Younan’s Sermon:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.elcjhl.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bishop-Sermon-Mitri-9-June-2017.pdf” title=”Bishop Sermon Mitri 9 June 2017″]

 

 

 

Church Council from Church of Norway Visits ELCJHL Church Council

Bishop Munib Younan addresses the assembled Church Councils. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

Bishop Munib Younan addresses the assembled Church Councils. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)
Bishop Munib Younan addresses the assembled Church Councils. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

BEIT JALA – Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt, Bishop of the Diocese of Borg, Church of Norway, and the Church Council from the same region visited the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan of the Holy Land from Thursday, February 26th, 2015 to March 2nd, 2015 in a bid to strengthen their relationship and to learn more about the operation of each church’s council.

The meeting included discussions on being the Lutheran Church in each church’s unique context as well as finding new ways in which the churches could further develop cooperation between not only each Church Council, but between the church bodies as a whole.

Bishop Younan remarked on the visit: “This is a remarkable thing that we have really met the two church councils – with our ELCJHL pastors – and have discussed the issue of Lutheran identity in both Norwegian and Palestinian contexts.  We have seen both the similarities and differences.  Meetings of church councils will only deepen the relationship between the two churches.  I am asking others to seriously think of adopting an agenda where church councils have the opportunity to meet – worshipping with us and seeing our reality as well as discussing issues of concern, differences, and even issues of disagreement in each church deepens our sense of communion.”

Bishop Munib Younan and the ELCJHL thank Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt and the Church Council of the Diocese of Borg for their visit and for further deepening the relationship between the two churches.

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.

Church of Norway Presiding Bishop and Delegation Visit Jerusalem

Bishop Younan visits with Church of Norway Delegation, including Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, during their visit to the Middle East.

JERUSALEM, 20 March 2012 (ELCJHL)– A High-level delegation from the Church of Norway, including Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien and Church Council President Mr. Svein-Arne Lindø, visited yesterday with Bishop Munib Younan and ELCJHL Women’s Work Facilitator Mrs. Bassimah Jaraiseh.

Bishop Younan met with the delegation to discuss the present and ongoing mission and ministry of the ELCJHL. Younan highlighted in particular the importance of the educational ministries of the ELCJHL, including the four ELCJHL k-12 Schools who annually educate more than 3,000 students.

Younan focused on the co-educational inter-religious educational environment offered to students in the ELCJHL Schools. Of the ELCJHL’s student enrollment, nearly half of its students are Muslim. The other half of student enrollment represent almost all thirteen church bodies present in the area. Five percent of ELCJHL students are Lutheran.

“Our goal,” Younan said, “is to raise up our Muslim students to be constructive, effective and moderate Muslims; to raise up our Christian students to be constructive, effective and moderate Christians; all together with our Lutheran students in a Lutheran spirit that uplifts equal education and opportunities for its students, regardless of gender, race, or religion.”

Within an area of the world in which religious extremism that sets one religion against another is on the rise, Younan spoke of the ELCJHL’s focus on breaking down barriers, eradicating stereotypes, and raising up students to know and respect one another, finding the common values of love of God and love of neighbor that resonate throughout the Abrahamic religions.

Younan continued, “We are proud to be raising up new leaders who will work with one another for justice, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness in mosques and churches, in schools and workplaces.”

The ELCJHL has a long history of service in education that is designed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people as a whole, through holistic education that develops each student, and works to support a society in which justice, peace, co-existence, and mutual respect can thrive.

Amidst the continued unresolved political situation, the economic effects often reach children first, and their education along with it. The ELCJHL has doubled its local tuition contributions in the last decade, and continues to strive to become financially self-sustaining. But, until the surrounding situation changes, the scholarship support afforded by church organizations, such as the Church of Norway, along with individual scholarship support, is instrumental in sustaining the ELCJHL educational mission.

The Church of Norway and the ELCJHL are long-time partners in mission and diakonia. In recent years, the Church of Norway has been instrumental in funding the ongoing work of the women of the ELCJHL.

It is the goal of the Women of the ELCJHL to raise awareness about contemporary societal issues and the rights of women, to strengthen the social and psychological network among women, and to empower women in church and society to bring about changes in society to positively impact present and future generations.

The delegation from the Church of Norway also included Rev. Jens-Petter Johnsen, Director of Church Council; Rev. Kjetil Aano, Chairman of Council of Ecumenical and International Relations; Mrs. Berit Hagen Agøy, General Secretary of Council of Ecumenical and International Relations; Rev Dr Trond Bakkevig, Convener of Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land; Dr Dr Iver B. Neumann, Professor and research director at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs; Mr. Jan Erik Sundby, Representative of Borg diocese; Rev Dr Anne Hege Grung, Research fellow, University of Oslo; Mrs Gudrun Bertinussen, Norwegian Church Aid representative to the Middle East; and Mr. Sven Thore Kloster, Advisor on interreligious relations, Council of Ecumenical and International Relations.

The Church of Norway delegation visited Jerusalem as part of their current Middle East tour, which will also include visits in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.

photos

View more photos from the Church of Norway delegation visit.