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

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″]

 

 

 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland-Kuopio Visit, Renew Partnership with ELCJHL

Bishop Munib Younan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Kuopio Diocese, Bishop Jari Jolkkonen embrace. Kuopio delegates and Bishop Jolkkonen arrived for afternoon tea with Bishop Younan at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, 19 February 2017 – Delegates from The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Diocese of Kuopio visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) this week to plan renewing partnership between the two establishments.

Using Galatians 6:10 as a guide, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers,” the Kuopio Diocese, and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission(FELM), and the ELCJHL will enter into renewed partnership with dignity, respect, reciprocity, equality, and solidarity.

The Lutheran Church of Finland and the ELCJHL are member churches of the Lutheran World Federation.

Since 2009, the Kuopio Diocese has been in partnership with the ELCJHL churches and three Evangelical Lutheran Schools of the ELCJHL: Hope Ramallah, Beit Sahour, and Dar al Kalima schools.

The most critical parts of the relationship according to the Bishop of the Kuopio Diocese, Jari Jolkkonen are as follows:

  1. An increased interaction and communication for increased mutual understanding and sharing of experiences.
  2. Intensification of theological exchange by means of joint seminars, missiological training, and visits with a special focus on pilgrimage encountering the local Christian context.
  3. The development and organization of new means of mutual cooperation in, for example, staff and trainee exchange, with a particular emphasis on church music.
  4. Invigoration of interest in mission work by means of various projects. To support the work of the ELCJHL with a special focus on ecclesiastical matters.

The Kuopio delegation was comprised of six deans from Kuopio parishes, others from the Diocese and the Bishop of the Kuopio Diocese.

The delegation visited schools, met with Bishop Younan, participated in the Joint-Common Prayer service between Catholics and Lutherans, and worshiped at The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah among other activities.

During Bishop Jolkkonen’s sermon at Hope Ramallah on Sunday before the delegation’s departure, he preached,

“This partnership with ELCJHL has changed us. Every time I see in the news of violence in the Holy Land it breaks my heart. It makes me feel pain. I don’t just speak for myself but on behalf of the entire delegation. Therefore, we pray every Sunday for you and will do everything to stand with you in solidarity.”

Gallery

ELCJHL Renews Mutual Agreement With Kuopio, Finland and FELM

Bishop Jari Jolkkonen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL shake hands.

Bishop Jari Jolkkonen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL shake hands.
Bishop Jari Jolkkonen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL shake hands. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

JERUSALEM – The companion agreement between The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Diocese of Kuopio, and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) was signed in St. John’s Chapel at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014. Bishop Munib Younan, representing the ELCJHL, Bishop Jari Jolkkonen, representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Diocese of Kuopio, and Rev. Dr. Seppo Rissanen, representing FELM signed the documents to continue their mutual agreement of accompaniment.  The ELCJHL is happy to continue its work with both the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Kuopio Diocese and FELM.

Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Visit the Holy Land

The delegation of the Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland meet with Sheikh Abed Elathim Salhab, Chairperson of the Islamic Council and Sheikh Azzam Khatib, Director of the Islamic Waqf in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Haram Ash-Sharif. © ELCJHL/Rev. Elizabeth McHan

The delegation of the Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Bishop Dr. Munib Younan meet with Sheikh Abed Elathim Salhab, Chairperson of the Islamic Council and Sheikh Azzam Khatib, Director of the Islamic Waqf in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Haram Ash-Sharif during their recent visit. © ELCJHL/Rev. Elizabeth McHan

JERUSALEM, 3 April 2012 (ELCJHL) – The ELCJHL was honored to host the Rt. Rev. Dr. Kari Mäkinen, Archbishop of Turku and Finland, along with all of the Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and spouses.

The 21-person delegation visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramallah as part of a week-long visit to the Holy Land.

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan hosted the Bishops’ visit, which included meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority government representatives, local and international organizations, schools, programs, and individuals.

Included in the visit were meetings with Mr. Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister for the Palestinian Authority; and Mr. Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Foreign Minister for the Government of Israel.

Continue reading “Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Visit the Holy Land”

Bishop Munib Younan Awarded St. Henrik Cross

Archbishop Kari Makinen bestows the St. Henrik Cross on Bishop Munib Younan April 5, 2011

Archbishop Kari Mäkinen bestows the St. Henrik Cross upon Bishop Munib Younan on April 5, 2011. Photo: Tapio Kujala

JERUSALEM, April 6, 2011 – “Bishop Younan has been encouraging people to make peace in this world…” These were just a few of the words Archbishop Kari Mäkinen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland spoke as the St. Henrik Cross was awarded to Bishop Munib Younan in a ceremony yesterday afternoon in Jerusalem.

Younan is only the 11th person to receive the St. Henrik Cross from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland.

The awarding came amidst a visit to the Holy Land from a Finnish delegation. Also present for the awarding of the St. Henrik Cross were Bishops Kaarlo Kalliala and Wille Riekkinen. Younan was also presented with new Bishop’s robes and mitre.

In his presentation of the award Mäkinen spoke of many reasons Younan had been chosen to receive the St. Henrik Cross, touching on Younan’s work as a theologian and translator, but focusing on Younan’s tireless work for peace and justice as well as his commitment to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.

Previous recipients of the St. Henrik Cros include ELCF Archbishop Emeritus John Vikström, Finnish theologian and professor Tuomo Mannerma, and former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari, among others.

Younan has had many ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland throughout the years. Younan first studied in Finland from 1969-1972 studying Deaconry at Luther Opisto College in Järvenpää. In 1972 Younan moved to Helsinki to continue his studies at the University of Helsinki, from which he graduated in 1976 with a Master in Theology. Since his studies Younan has returned to Finald many times, most recently when he attended the consecration of Archbishop Kari Mäkinen on June 6th of last year.

Younan has served as Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land since his election in 1998. In July of 2010 Younan was also elected to serve as President of the Lutheran World Federation, a communion of 145 Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition, representing over 70 million Christians. Younan is author of the book Witnessing for Peace: In Jerusalem and the World (Augsburg Fortress, 2003) and translator of The Augsburg Confession in Arabic (Emerezian Est., 1993).

Finnish archbishop consecrated, Younan attends

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland installed Kari Mäkinen (front row, second from left) as its archbishop on June 6, 2010, in Turku, Finland. ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan (front row, first from left) was one of many Lutheran bishops from around the world on hand to take part in the installation.

Bishop Younan earned his master of theology degree at the University of Helsinki, Finland, in 1976.