Bishop Attends Consecration of Bishop Jan-Olof Johansson of the Diocese of Vaxjo

Bishop Jan-Olof Johansson of the Diocese of Vaxjo

SWEDEN, November 21, 2010 – It was with great joy that Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) attended the consecration of Rev. Jan Olof Johansson as Bishop of Växjö in mid-November.

Bishop Johansson has previously served as General Secretary of the Jerusalem Swedish society, working closely with the Swedish Good Shepherd School in Bethlehem, a fact which Younan reflected on in his address at Johansson’s consecration:

“Your consecration is very meaningful to me, for we have known one another for nearly twenty years, and have worked together for the sake of Palestinian girls in the ministry of the Swedish Good Shepherd School in Bethlehem. I have always admired your unflagging will to support this school as the General Secretary of the Jerusalem Swedish society. You care for our people, for our children, and for our hospital. I have always noticed and observed your love and sweet spirit and concern for the children and for your advocacy for our just cause.”

Younan acknowledged to Johansson both the privilege and demands of Johansson’s new call as Bishop, but assured him of God’s guidance and wisdom, and promised presence in the midst.

Younan concluded his speech, sharing the confidence, greetings, and prayers of the young women of the Swedish Good Shepherd School in Bethlehem, and presenting from them a handmade olive wood nativity.

Pastor Fred Strickert and Diaconal Minister Gloria Strickert Installed to the English-Speaking Congregation at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, ELCJHL

Rev. Fred and Gloria Strickert, Laying on of Hands, Gloria Strickert and Rev. Elizabeth McHan Presentation Pictured here: Rev. Fred and Gloria Strickert, Laying on of Hands, Presentation of Gloria Strickert and Rev. Elizabeth McHan.

JERUSALEM, September 17, 2010 – On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Pastor Fred Strickert and Diaconal Minister Gloria Strickert were installed to the English-Speaking Congregation of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem. Bishop Younan preached and presided at the service. Propst Dr. Uwe Graebe, representing the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Rev. Mark Brown, chair of the congregational council and ELCA pastor serving as Regional Representative with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Jerusalem, and Rev. Sani Ibrahim Azar, Pastor of the Arabic-Speaking Congregation at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and President of the Synod of the ELCJHL assisted.

Present for the laying on of hands were clergy from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Church of Sweden, the Church of Scotland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Church of Norway, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Canada, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) & the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Pastor Fred Strickert, PhD, graduated from Christ-Seminary Seminex (LSTC) and received a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the University of Iowa. He was ordained in Papua New Guinea in 1975 and rostered in the AELC, ALC, and ELCA. He has taught on the seminary level in Papua New Guinea and India and taught at Wartburg College, in Waverly, Iowa, for 24 years. He has led student travel courses for several decades to the Middle East, Honduras, and Tanzania. He has also published on New Testament and Archaeology issues, as well as the Palestinian struggle including Rachel Weeping: Jews, Christians, and Muslims at a Fortress Tomb (Liturgical Press, 2008), co-authoring with Rev. Mitri Raheb, Bethlehem 2000: Past and Present (Interlink Publishing, 1998); and editing Alison Jones Nassar’s Imm Mathilda: A Bethlehem Mother’s Diary (Kirk House Publishers, 2003) and Bishop Munib Younan’s Witnessing for Peace: In Jerusalem and the World (Fortress Press, 2003).

Diaconal Minister Gloria Strickert, is a graduate of Wartburg Seminary and was consecrated as a Diaconal Minister in 1996. She has served in Spiritual Care in hospitals in Waterloo, Iowa, for fifteen years and previously worked in education ministries in the LCMS and LCA. She also worked in Papua New Guinea for six years and spent a year as a Global Mission Volunteer at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.

The congregation also recognized the many members who were beginning service with an Affirmation of Vocation.

In his sermon, Bishop Younan spoke of the theology of accompaniment in connection to the English-Speaking Congregation of the ELCJHL, saying, “We are very proud that the ELCJHL and the ELCA have together developed a deep theology of accompaniment in which we walk together with love, in faith and hope that, through the witness of the other, God is revealing God’s very self to us… For this reason, we step out in faith to accompany and encourage our expatriate brothers and sisters. So that people who come from various denominational backgrounds and cultures can find in this congregation a home, and here they may experience the love of God reaching out to the world.”

In closing, Bishop Younan encouraged the congregation to remember the element of joy in the parables of Luke 15, saying, “I believe that each and every worship service must be a time of joy as we, together as sinners, experience the power of forgiveness and the strength of God’s love for us. We come here lost like the sheep, and the coin; but we are found by God’s love. We are sinners; yet forgiven. This joyful realization must envelop our lives and send us out from this service empowered by the grace of God. We must go out with joy, proclaiming this love that comes from God.”

The ELCJHL rejoices in the new ministry of Pastor Fred and Gloria Strickert, together with the English-Speaking Congregation at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, ELCJHL.

Click here to learn more about the ministry of the English-Speaking Congregation at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

ELCJHL celebrates a new pastor for Ramallah

Rev. Saliba Rishmawi was installed as pastor of the ELCJHL Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah, West Bank, on Sunday, March 14, 2010. Many clergy, ELCJHL members and friends, as well as local dignitaries, attended the festive event. Pictured here is Rev. Rishmawi (center) with ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan on his left and Bishop Martin Lind of the Diocese of Linköping, Church of Sweden, on his right, during the installation service.


Church of Sweden and ELCJHL call for Sweden to help in pursuit of peace

Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the Church of Sweden and ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan issued a joint statement calling on the Swedish government to take an active role in seeking peace in the Holy Land. They issued their statement after Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt presented that country’s Parliament a declaration stating that peace between Israel and Palestine will be a top agenda item for his government this year. The declaration came after a representative of the Church of Sweden visited Gaza in the wake of Israel’s recent bombing campaign there.

Read the full statement here.

Bishop visits Sweden, strengthens partnership

ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan addressed representatives of the world’s largest Lutheran church body and signed a partnership agreement this week in Sweden.

Speaking before the church assembly of the more than 7 million member Church of Sweden, Younan told the 251 elected representatives he commended the church for its strong theology of accompaniment and hoped that it would inspire other churches. Citing a lack of charismatic leadership in the world, Younan called on the church to address the greed that contributed to the current global economic crisis.

Humanity must have “economics with ethics and politics with morals,” he said. “It’s not how much you can make but how much you are accountable in what you invest.”

His well received address came just days after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Diocese of Strängnäs signed a second five-year partnering agreement. The agreement calls for the Swedish diocese to stand in solidarity with the ELCJHL and remember the Palestinian church in its prayers.

Younan and a small delegation are visiting Sweden in order to renew and deepen its partnership with the Strängnäs diocese, with which it has had a relationship since 1981.

“For us in Palestine this twinning with the diocese of Strängnäs is a sign of hope which expresses itself both in word and action,” Younan said. “To be church here in Palestine is to care for people’s needs, their struggle, their sense of powerlessness and their education.”

Education is a particular focus of the delegation. School exchanges have always been a part of the formal agreement between the two churches. Plans are to continue exchanges between Palestinian schools and a school in Örebro, the main city in Strängnäs diocese.

In addition to Strängnäs, the Palestinian delegation visited the Swedish church’s main office in Uppsala, where they met with Archbishop Anders Wejryd, foreign director Margareta Grape and other officials at the church center.

In the Swedish capital of Stockholm, Bishop Younan went to the parliament and met opposition leader Mona Sahlin of the Social Democratic Party. The two discussed the important role of Christians in peace making. That day, a coalition of Swedish organizations revealed that Assa Abloy, a Swedish lock maker, has been operating a factory in an illegal Israeli settlement on the Palestinian West Bank, according to Swedish Radio News. Younan said the situation highlights the need for the church to speak out about ethical investing.

Earlier in the visit, Bishop Younan had the opportunity to preach during the first presentation of a unique mass. The mass, based on the music and liturgy of Palestinian churches, was performed in Swedish at an ecumenical service on Oct. 18 in Stockholm.

ELCJHL Meets with International Partners (COCOP)

The Coordinating Council for the Cooperation of Overseas Partners of the ELCJHL (COCOP) celebrated its 30th year of partnership at the recent annual meeting in May at Dar Annadwa conference center in Bethlehem. On the study day before the council meeting, Rev. Hannes Ganssbauer from Germany, who was instrumental in the early years of the partnership, gave the history of the partnership, and Mrs. Aida Haddad, wife of the late Bishop Emeritus Daoud Haddad, gave reflections from the Bishop’s writings. As usual, the group heard updates from the churches, schools and ministries and strategized about future plans. The week concluded with a memorial service for Bishop Haddad at Augusta Victoria’s Festival Hall.

Delegation from Strangnas Diocese Visits ELCJHL

Bishop Hans Erik Nordin and a delegation of pastors, staff and lay people from the Diocese of Straengnes in Sweden arrived in the Holy Land Friday, February 2, to visit the ELCJHL and others working for a just peace in Palestine. Saturday they toured Bethlehem and some ministries of the ELCJH, and Sunday they traveled to Ramallah to worship with the people of the ELCJHL’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope. Bishop Nordin told the assembled congregation that they were there to learn what it is like to be a community of hope in the midst of struggle. Bishop Younan of the ELCJHL preached and con-celebrated Holy Communion with Bishop Nordin, then went on to visit Ramallah residents and listen to their stories of recent years. The group will depart on Wednesday, after a full schedule of visits and meetings to get a feel for life in the midst of conflict.

For pictures, click here.

Bishop Younan Attends Installation of New Swedish Archbishop and Conference

Bishop Younan was in Sweden to attend the installation of the new Swedish Archbishop Anders Wejryd. He then addressed a Swedish conference on the role of Religion in Conflicts. The Bishop said that religion has been kidnapped by politics, and he is frustrated that religion is more frequently used to cause political conflicts rather than solve them.

The Bishop reiterated his belief that it is the underlying injustices of our world and the failure of moderate religious leaders to address them that is fueling the growth in extremist religions. The greed and narrow self-interest of the Western world is allowing Islam to portray itself as the only religion that stands for justice in that arena. The Western world’s emphasis on democracy is misplaced, according to the Bishop, because justice must come first. He pointed to the US invasion of Iraq as an example of what happens when you try to force a country into democracy, then hand out Bibles after the invasion. It doesn’t work.

Youth from the USA, Sweden and the ELCJHL Meet in the Holy Land

15 people, including 7 young adults from the USA and 3 from Sweden, are visiting the ELCJHL for over 2 weeks. The Southeast Michigan Synod of the ELCA, a companion synod of the ELCJHL, has been planning the trip for over a year. They wanted their young people and others from ELCJHL partners to meet the young people of the ELCJHL in their own churches and homes to learn about the church’s ministry and life here. They went to each congregation, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, where 6 of the ELCJHL youth there welcomed them, showed them their lives in Amman and then traveled with them to Petra.

The original plan to have a group of ELCJHL youth accompany the group the whole time was unworkable because they didn’t have permits to get from one city to the other. From permits to checkpoints, roadblocks to the Wall, the visiting group began to see that a normal life is virtually impossible under military occupation. So the group ebbed and flowed, depending on which Palestinian youth could attend each day. Nevertheless, they formed a strong bond through the stories and sharing of experiences.

At each congregation, group leader Scott Thams presented the churches with CDs of the Bible in Arabic and gave them bracelets they had made to raise funds for the trip that said “Bridges not Walls” in Arabic and English. He brought greetings from the synod, where they have been working hard to raise awareness of the harsh Palestinian reality and the need for a just peace.