A delegation from the Evangelical Church of Westphalia has been making visits around the ELCJHL in recent days. On Oct. 11, the EKvW’s bishop, Alfred Buss (second from left), preached at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, where he encouraged believers not to let the political realities of the occupation rob them of their hope. ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan (holding plate) spoke with the group the following day, recalling the church’s German roots and the EKvW’s long history of partnership to the Palestinian church. The two leaders expressed happiness that the churches are renewing the relationship.
Annual joint service for Ascension Day on May 1.
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer celebrated Ascension day as they do every year on the Mt. of Olives Ascension Church. The Arabic, English and German-speaking congregations share Holy Communion and then process out to the Mt. of Olives, overlooking the Jordan Valley, to conclude the service.
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.
Bishop Dr. Munib Younan of the ELCJHL (middle right) and Presiding Bishop Dr. Wolfgang Huber of the Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands (EKD) (right) signed an historic agreement at a festival worship service in April that clarified their partnership and working relationships. Bishop Munib Younan said the agreement has been in process for 2 years, and is a step forward in “the spirit of accompaniment.”
“Our relationship with the German church has always been good. We are the outcome of a German mission. This puts us on a road where the focus should be: working together for justice, reconciliation and the continuity of the local church,” said Bishop Younan.
From left to right, ELCJHL Pastor Ibrahim Azar, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan and Presiding Bishop Dr. Wolfgang Huber of the EKD.
The festive occasion was held on the Mt. of Olives at the Augusta Victoria Ascension Church, which also celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone, as well as the 60th Anniversary of the Lutheran World Federation. LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, ELCJHL Redeemer’s Pastor Ibrahim Azar and Propst Uwe Grabe were official witnesses. Picture at right, left to right: Mr. Wolfram Buchholz, Pastor Ibrahim Azar and Propst Uwe Grabe.
The EKD is a consortium of all 22 Protestant churches in Germany, representing 22 million people. A delegation of almost 50 people from the EKD church council arrived a week before the signing to visit partners and local officials in an attempt to see firsthand the realities on the ground here.
Pictured here from left to right: ELCJHL Bishop Younan, Bishop Dr. Margot Kasemann of EKD Hanover; Bishop Johannes Friedrich, Bishop of Bavaria; Bishop Professor Dr. Wolfgang Huber, the Presiding Bishop of the EKD.