World Council of Churches welcomes the ELCJHL into membership

The WCC exploratory delegation with Mr. Simon Awad at the Environmental Education Center, one of the Educational Programs of the ELCJHL

The WCC exploratory delegation visited the congregations, schools and educational ministries of the ELCJHL, as well as ecumenical and interfaith partners during their January visit. In the photo to the left, the delegation is pictured with with Mr. Simon Awad, director of the Environmental Education Center in Beit Jala, one of the Educational Programs of the ELCJHL. Photo © ELCJHL/Rev. Rolf Pearson.

JERUSALEM/GENEVA, February 23, 2011 – The World Council of Churches (WCC) announced today that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has been accepted as a member of its ecumenical body—the largest body of its kind in the world.

The strong diaconal, ecumenical, and interfaith work of the ELCJHL was the basis for its consideration. The WCC Central Committee, now meeting in Geneva, voiced their decision unanimously. The decision was a rare measure, as it made use of the constitutional clause in dispensing with the usual membership requirements relating to small size of the church based on “exceptional reasons” of profound social and ecumenical involvement.

The announcement of the acceptance into membership was met with joy by Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL, who responded, saying:

“We are overjoyed at the unanimous acceptance of our church into the World Council of Churches. No church can be independent; all of us are interdependent. As a new member of the WCC, we are proud to be part of an Ecumenical Communion that demonstrates in its very being the interdependence and interconnectedness of our individual church bodies, working in conjunction both locally and throughout the world. Our church is excited to discuss with the WCC what witness we can continue to offer together for ecumenism, justice and reconciliation, and interfaith dialogue.”

The decision came following a WCC exploratory delegation visit to the ELCJHL January 26-30, 2011. During its visit, the delegation visited many of the ELCJHL congregations, schools and educational programs, as well as numerous ecumenical and interfaith partners.

Included in the program were visits to three of the four ELCJHL k-12 Schools, four of the six congregations, and five educational programs.

Students at the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour with ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission Trena.

Visits with students, teachers, administrators, principals, and pastors offered the delegates a portrait of these vibrant ministries and a deeper understanding of the effects of the current situation on young people. The ELCJHL lives out a holistic philosophy and outreach to diverse Christian and Muslim families, and the impact of Lutheran education in Palestine is indeed profound.

The ELCJHL was also eager to introduce the WCC delegation to the many ecumenical and interfaith organizations and programs in which it takes an active leadership role.

During the three-day program, the delegation met with representatives of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem. In the delegation’s meeting with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus, they heard of the importance of the ELCJHL as one of the main pillars of the ecumenical fellowship. And, again, in their meeting with His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Twal spoke of the ELCJHL as being a “crucial witness of the Palestinian presence in the region.”

The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL), an interreligious council with representatives from the three Abrahamic faiths in which Bishop Younan is an active member.

And, in addition, the delegation met with local programs in which the ELCJHL plays an instrumental role, including the Jerusalem Interchurch Center (JIC), and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), both of which are programs of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

This strong diaconal, ecumenical and interfaith work of the ELCJHL was evident throughout the delegation’s visit, and was a strong recommendation for the small but vibrant church’s membership in the WCC.

The unanimous reception of the ELCJHL into membership in the World Council of Churches comes as one of many recent affirmations of the work and witness of the ELCJHL, including the election of Bishop Younan as President of the Lutheran World Federation this past July.

Click on the highlighted links for more information on the congregations, schools and educational programs of the ELCJHL, click here.

Click on the highlighted link to learn more about the World Council of Churches

Ecumenical service is part of World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel

settlement east of the Mount of Olives

All are invited to attend an ecumenical service for the World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel. The service will be 4 p.m., Sunday, June 7, 2009, at St. Stephen’s Basilica, 6 Nablus Road, Jerusalem.

Sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel is an opportunity for churches in different countries to send a clear signal about the urgent need for a peace settlement that secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples. The local service is organized by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem.

Settlements, like the one pictured here, are a special focus of this year’s campaign.


Week of Action for Peace in Palestine & Israel

June 4-10, 2008 – A common prayer and message for peace in Palestine and Israel is ready for use in about 100 countries. Churches in 17 countries, plus two international ecumenical organizations, are planning various education and advocacy activities. These and more are part of a global week of action led by the World Council of Churches (WCC), 4-10 June 2008. This year marks 60 years since the partition of Palestine and 41 years of occupation.

The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued a common prayer they are asking churches to use on Sunday, June 8, to pray for justice and peace in the Holy Land.

Click here for prayer.

“After 60 years of peace denied in the Middle East, churches on five continents are demonstrating their concern together,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in announcing the week. “It is encouraging to see so many churches speaking out together for peace. The message for the action week says “It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.”

Click here for Action Week Message:  It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to Share a Just Peace.


WCC General Secretary Kobia Leads Delegation to Holy Land

Heads of churches in Jerusalem have welcomed the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum launched in Jordan last week. They voiced satisfaction with the new advocacy initiative at meetings with World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia during his 21-26 June visit to the Holy Land.

In addition to heads of local churches, the WCC delegation visited the staff and some ecumenical accompaniers from the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel, formed in 2002 as the result of a plea for help from Christians world wide. The accompaniers work side by side with Palestinians and Israelis working for a just peace. The delegation visited Hebron, where accompaniers walk children to school to protect them from violence by settlers, and a refugee camp in Bethlehem, where accompaniers work with children teaching English and other skills. They also visited holy sites, government and religious leaders and Yad Vashem.

Video: Rev. Dr. Kobia’s greeting to heads of churches

Video: Rev. Dr. Kobia on what it will take to bring just peace

The Amman Call for International Peace

Issued at the WCC International Peace Conference
“Churches together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East”

Amman, Jordan, 18-20 June 2007

Amman imperatives:

1. Almost sixty years have passed since the Christian churches first spoke with one voice about Arab-Israeli peace. For the last forty years the Christian churches have called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In the very place where Jesus Christ walked upon the earth, walls now separate families and the children of God – Christian, Muslim and Jew — are imprisoned in a deepening cycle of violence, humiliation and despair. The Palestinian Christians from Gaza to Jerusalem and to Nazareth, have called out to their brothers and sisters in Christ with this urgent plea: “Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.”

Read the entire document at The World Council of Churches

WCC Sends Delegation to Lebanon and Jerusalem

The World Council of Churches sent a three-member delegation to Lebanon and Jerusalem August 10 – August 16 whose main aim was “to manifest our solidarity to the people of Lebanon and Palestine/Israel, to meet as many representatives of Churches, Muslim and Jewish leaders, civil society and the Governments.” The delgation consisted of Ms. Marilia Schiller, programme executive of staff of the WCC; Pastor Jean-Arnold Clermont, President of the French Protestant Federation and of the Conference of European Churches; and Mgr. Bernard Aubertin, Archbishop of Tours in France, delegate of the Catholic Conference of French Bishops. In a statement released at a press conference Monday, Aug. 14, the delegation said they had also gone “to listen to the people we met, especially the leaders of the churches, to take back with us the voices of the people of Lebanon and Palestine/Israel, so that the churches we represent can speak out in their name.”

“We heard the voices of all our partners in Lebanon who couldn’t understand the violence of destruction: more than a thousand civilian victims, crimes of war against children and infants (noting particularly Qana and the Mar Jayun convoy), destruction of infrastructure – and as the Lebanese Prime Minister told us – “a Lebanon cut in pieces”. They could not understand the violence of the military offensive, except that the intention was to destroy Lebanon. We heard also the voices of the same Christian leaders in Lebanon condemning without reservation the attacks of Hizbollah which cost the lives of eight Israeli soldiers and the capture of two others, and condemning any form of violence and the killing of civilians. But the same leaders supported the resistance of the Lebanese people underlying the unity of this country as a model of multicultural and muti-confessional understanding of democracy.”

For Full Press Conference Statement click here.

World Council of Churches Meeting Produces Letter of Support for Palestinian/Israeli Peace

“Accompany Israeli and Palestinian leaders with courage and patience in a direction that will give their people cause for hope,” World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia says today in a letter to members of the UN Security Council’s “Middle East Quartet”.

letter comes at “a critical juncture in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and calls on recipients to “work in new ways to meet the new situation emerging from last month’s Palestinian elections”. It identifies three features of the new situation that “present opportunities for genuine progress towards peace”:

  • As “an earnest exercise of democratic rights”, the Palestinian elections “send a democratic warning to those in the international community who hold responsibility for the long-delayed fulfilment of international obligations to the Palestinian people”.
  • The new Palestinian Authority “needs time to position and prove itself”, and Quartet members therefore need to exercise “constructive patience” with the newly-elected body.
  • In the interests of a genuine peace process, the Quartet is needed as an active, determined, objective and consistent “third party” in order to hold Israelis and Palestinians to equitable terms and conditions.

The WCC letter was sent to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, the European Union’s representative for foreign and security polity Javier Solana, the Russian Federation’s minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov,the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs Agboola Gambari, and to the special representative of the UN Security Council’s Middle East Quartet, James Wolfensohn.