Volunteers Commissioned During English-Speaking Service

2013-2014 Young Adults in Global Mission
2013-2014 Young Adults in Global Mission
The 2013-2014 Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) were commissioned for their year of service. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

Bishop Munib Younan and the English-Speaking congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) welcomed new volunteers for a year of service in the Holy Land. The six Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) volunteers, known as Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) were blessed. The YAGM work with the ELCJHL’s schools and ministries and worship with Palestinian Christians throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank. Other volunteers who were commissioned were with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Lutheran World Federation, Jerusalem Program. Bishop Munib Younan, Rev. Mark Brown, Church Council President, Rev. Jeff VonWald, Co-YAGM Coordinator, and Revs. Martin and Angela Zimmann, pastors of the English-Speaking congregation, commissioned and welcomed the new volunteers.

“We are accompanying each other with the various gifts that we have and that God has bestowed upon us,” said Bishop Munib Younan during the service. “You have come here to serve as equals with equal partners, to accompany them as they accompany you.”

“May God bless you in this very demanding, but very rewarding, experience.”

To listen to music from the service, visit the ELCJHL’s Soundcloud page.

To see photos from the service, visit our photo gallery.

The Volunteers are Commissioned
All volunteers were commissioned at the English-Speaking congregation of the ELCJHL. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

Bishop Younan Meets With The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem

Bishop Munib Younan speaks with Latin Patriarch Patriarch Fouad Twal and Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad. © Danae Hudson/ELCJHL

JERUSALEM – Bishop Munib Younan met with the heads of churches at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem today to give his Easter greetings. Ten of the thirteen heads of churches were present, as well as priests and Bishops from Jerusalem. The Lutheran delegation to the meeting included Bishop Younan, Propst Wolfgang Schmidt, representative of the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland in Jerusalem, the pastors of the English Speaking Congregation and Special Assistants to the Bishop, Revs. Angela and Martin Zimmann, Rev. Saliba Rishmawi of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala, Rev. Jari Honkakari of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM), and Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Jerusalem representative Rev. Mark Brown.

The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. © Danae Hudson/ELCJHL

At the meeting, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal welcomed the churches and spoke of accompanying the people, as in the story of Emmaus when Jesus walked with the disciples and “their hearts burned within them.” He then invited the other Bishops present to speak and offer prayers. Bishop Munib Younan discussed the inauguration of the Pontificate, as well as his hope that the heads of churches will continue to support the textbook study, Victim’s of Our Own Narratives, initiated by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL). Bishop Younan encouraged all those gathered to think of ways to encourage the use of the study in schools.

Bishop Younan Speaks to Accompaniment and Mutual Understanding at Installation of Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien

JERUSALEM, 5 October 2011 – Bishop Munib Younan was pleased to be present in Trondheim, Norway this past weekend for the installation of Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien as Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway Bishops’ Conference.

In his words of greeting to Haugland Byfuglien, Younan spoke of the newly-installed Bishop’s passionate commitment to justice: “When you speak of justice we are touched, because your engagement is driven by love, even on difficult issues.”

Younan, bishop of the ELCJHL, has known Haugland Byfuglien since she became Bishop of Borg diocese in 2005. The Borg diocese is a partner diocese of the ELCJHL, and in his words of greeting Younan recalled “I quickly came to appreciate you as a sister that one can trust and confide in. So no wonder, then, that your fellow bishops would unanimously elect you to be their candidate for Presiding Bishop.”

Younan, who also serves as president of the Lutheran World Federation, also noted with great appreciation Haugland Byfuglien’s service as Nordic vice president for the LWF and their opportunities to further their relations there.

Haugland Byfuglien’s installation took place only two and a half months after the shocking attack on Norway, and Younan expressed the solidarity of the Lutheran world communion with the people of Norway and the religious communities of Norway. “We have prayed, and we shall still pray, for the victims of this horrendous attack.”

Younan continued, “We are your allies in combating – with peaceful means – any kind of incitement or hatred that some circles are trying to promote. We are your allies for a culture of mutual understanding and we oppose all culture of anti-Semitism, islamophobia, christianophobia and xenophobia that exist in our world. We look forward to continued cooperation with the Church of Norway on these values because the Church of Norway has carried these values to the world.”

Younan also expressed his admiration to how the Church of Norway ministered to all, saying “we in the outside world admired the way in which the church became a church of the suffering and gave pastoral care both to those who belong to the church and those who do not.”

Younan also expressed admiration for the way in which the King, the Prime Minister, and the Government of Norway cared for the situation.

In celebration of the day Younan presented Haugland Byfuglien with a Jerusalem cross from the ELCJHL as “a token of [the ELCJHL’s] prayer that the cross of Christ may be your comfort and strength.” Younan also asked Haugland Byfuglien, as she wears the cross, to “remember us in the Middle East with your prayer that justice will soon prevail.”

ELCJHL, Church of Scotland affirm, formalize partnership

Churches cooperate in order to strengthen evangelical Christian witness, not their institutions. Our interdependence as churches is a source of strength. This was part of the message of ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan gave at the March 24, 2010, partnership service. There, Younan and the Rt. Rev. William Hewitt, moderator of the Church of Scotland, signed an agreement formalizing the relationship between the ELCJHL and the Church of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Church in West Jerusalem hosted the afternoon event.

In the photo, ELCJHL Rev. Ibrahim Azar, Bishop Younan and Rev. Hewitt look on as Rev. George Shand, minister of St. Andrew’s, signs the document.

Bishop Younan and the ELCJHL Mourn the Death of ELCA Bishop John Schreiber

Bishop Younan and the ELCJHL are deeply saddened by the great loss of our brother in Christ,  Bishop John Schreiber of the ELCA’s Southeast Michigan Synod, our partner synod.  We considered him a wise prophet who spoke out on behalf of peace with justice in Palestine/Israel.  He understood our realities on the ground here and was a cherished friend who worked with us in a common mission.  May God Bless his life and ministry, and grant comfort and support to his family, friends and colleagues.

Southeast Michigan Youth and Adults Visit ELCJHL

A delegation of youth and adults from the Southeast Michigan Synod of the ELCA visited the ELCJHL and its youth in late June. The group spent three days with the youth of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, first working at the Beit Sahour school, painting lines for the soccer field and planting/cleaning the grounds. They toured the wall in Bethlehem and a refugee camp there and together they added their creative expressions to the wall. In Jerusalem, they helped with a day camp, were invited to a home for a meal and were led on a tour of Jerusalem by Shukri Merizian, tour guide extraordinaire. They worshipped in Ramallah and went with their youth group to a local village park and pool.

ELCJHL and EKD Sign Historic Agreement

April 2007 EKDService

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.

April 2007 EKD ServiceThe 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.

The council and ELCJHL leaders had a festive dinner at Abraham’s Herberge in Beit Jala.April 2007 EKD Dinner

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.

The Church: Called to a Ministry of Reconciliation

The closing day of the weeklong LWF Council Annual Meeting began with a prayer service at the wall, praying for an end to divisions, walls, violence and occupation. It ended with the Council adopting a statement calling for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a two-state solution with a shared Jerusalem. Holding the Annual Meeting in the Holy Land was important for the 170 people gathered, participants and hosts alike.

Bishop Younan, at an opening press conference in Jerusalem Aug 30, thanked the Council for coming to the cradle of Christian faith where Palestinian Christians have been custodians of the faith from the beginning:

LWF President Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA; LWF Vice-Chair Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and the Rev. Ishmael Noko, LWF General Secretary led the prayer service at the Wall near the entrance to Bethlehem. Photo by LWF/D.-MGrotzsch.

Our roots are here.
Your roots are here.
By coming here you tell us
that we are not alone.
–ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan, LWF Vice Chair

The LWF Council held its Annual Meeting in Jerusalem and Bethlehem from August 30 – September 6, gathering 170 people from the almost 70 million Lutherans they represent worldwide in almost 80 countries. President Hanson said that their presence in the Holy Land was a way to stand in solidarity with the ELCJHL: “to be present here, accompanying one another, learning from one another while standing shoulder to shoulder in the context of the other.”

Many expressed shock and outrage at the Wall and how it was affecting daily life by splitting families from their churches, land, jobs and communities. “How can this be happening in this day and age?” asked one conference participant. She said she understood the need for Israeli security and fighting terrorism, but punishing a whole people for the acts of a few was illegal and immoral.

The Rev. Kjell Jonasson and Ms. Inger Jonasson Installed in ELCJ Staff Positions

n Sunday, March 21, 2004, Pr. Kjell and Inger Jonasson were installed in their ELCJ positions during the Arabic-language service at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Old City Jerusalem. Pr. Kjell Jonasson, from the Church of Sweden, is ELCJ Bishop Dr. Munib Younan’s Assistant for Ecumenical Affairs and International Relations. In addition, part of Pr. Jonasson’s time will be given to the Swedish Theological Institute in West Jerusalem. Inger Jonasson is the Coordinator of the Art Program at the International Center in Bethlehem, connected to the Christmas Lutheran Church and the ELCJ.

Bishop Younan and visiting Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme of the Diocese of Borg of the Lutheran Church of Norway, together with the Rev. Anders Bloomquist of the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem and the Rev. Sani Ibrahim Azar, pastor of the Arabic congregation at Redeemer all participated in the installation service, using four different languages: Arabic, English, Swedish and Norwegian. Bishop Kvarme preached the sermon in English, highlighting and uplifting the ELCJ congregations, schools and community projects and encouraging the ELCJ to continue being a servant, as Jesus was servant to all. Pr. Kjell and Inger Jonasson shared a song with guitar accompaniment as part of the worship service.

In the 1980s Pr. Jonasson previously served as the Overseas Secretary on the staff of then ELCJ Bishop Daoud Haddad. He and Inger lived in Beit Sahour at that time, and are happy to return to Jerusalem and the ELCJ to meet old friends and make many new ones.