Tribute to Dr Tawfiq Nasser – LWF

Photo: Dr Tawfiq Nasser, 2014. Photo: LWF Jerusalem


Photo: Dr Tawfiq Nasser, 2014. Photo: LWF Jerusalem
Photo: Dr Tawfiq Nasser, 2014. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

“Long and faithful service” to the Augusta Victoria Hospital

(LWI) – With great sadness The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has learned of the death of Dr Tawfiq A. Nasser, the Chief Executive Officer of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem. Dr Nasser passed away on the morning of 16 May 2015. He had been the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer since 2001 and was instrumental in shaping its medical orientation.

“Dr Nasser was a man of compassion and service who cared deeply about others,” LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge wrote in a condolence letter to Dr Nasser’s family.  “In the LWF, we are particularly grateful for the long and faithful service Dr Nasser gave in the development of the Augusta Victoria Hospital.”

“He cherished and loved AVH”

Dr Nasser, who was born in the AVH in 1964 when the hospital still had a maternity ward, had been the hospital’s administrative director since 1997. He took over as Chief Executive Officer in 2001, at the age of 36. Dr Nasser shaped the hospital into the leading center for nephrology and oncology in the Palestinian territories.

He graduated in biomedicine and hospital administration at the Old Dominion University in Virginia, USA. Before taking a position at the AVH, Dr Nasser worked at Sentara Health System, USA, as well as at Bir Zeit University and with Arab Care Medical Services, both in Ramallah.

Colleagues and friends praised Dr Nasser’s commitment to the AVH and its patients. “Tawfiq worked at AVH on the Mount of Olives for 18 years,” Bishop Munib A Younan, Chairperson of the board of the AVH and President of the LWF, said. “He cherished and loved AVH. Tawfiq did not want it to be just a hospital. He wanted it to be a community of healing on the Mount of Olives.”

LWF General Secretary Junge said of Dr Nasser: “As a medical doctor, he learned the healing arts and applied them to relieve human suffering. As a gifted administrator, he organized the staff, the resources and the supporters to bring the Augusta Victoria Hospital to even higher levels of service. As a Palestinian, through his words and actions as a consummate professional, he was a powerful witness for justice, peace and an end to the occupation.”

Continue delivering services

Dr Nasser continued working until early May. He had been gradually handing over responsibilities to his deputy, Walid Nammour, who will continue to ensure  professional delivery of services.

Located on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, the AVH serves thousands of patients annually. It provides specialized medical services that are either unavailable elsewhere or not readily accessible to Palestinians, including facilities for dialysis, cancer and surgery, as well as special clinics, laboratories and medical equipment. One of Dr Nasser’s achievements was to have the hospital awarded the prestigious Joint Commission International accreditation for health care quality, patient care and organizational management in 2013. He also took the decision to send volunteer medical teams into Gaza to treat the wounded during the conflict of August 2014.

“We stand by his wife and his family,” Rev. Mark Brown, Country Representative of the LWF program in Jerusalem, said. “Please keep them in your prayers. Wholly in keeping with Tawfiq’s commitment to AVH, the family requested that friends wishing to honor Tawfiq send contributions to Augusta Victoria Hospital in support of its cancer work, in lieu of flowers.”

To see this article in its original format, you can visit the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) website.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) Calls for Immediate Cessation of Hostilities in Gaza

“In the day of my trouble I call on you” — Psalm 86:7

Witnessing the bombardments, hearing the sirens, listening to the cries of mothers and children, seeing the ambulances carrying the wounded and people living in absolute fear, the ELCJHL cries out to God. We also raise our voice to all Christian sisters and brothers, along with all people of goodwill, to end this latest round of violence between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.

In these days, many of us are quite depressed and frustrated, left wondering where this country is headed, along with much of the Middle East. As a church that has always strongly condemned violence as a means of solving conflicts, we were deeply troubled by the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers and the kidnapping and burning alive of the Palestinian teenager. We strongly condemn both of these actions as inhumane and despicable acts.

As we condemn the kidnappings, we also unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms possible the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas against civilian targets and the ongoing Israeli blockade and bombardment of Gaza (resulting so far in the deaths of more than 200 people, 80 percent of whom were civilians and 20 percent children). Both expressions of violence are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights laws and should be immediately ended.

This country and its people have gone through 65 years of violence, retaliations, and counter-retaliations. The ELCJHL believes that the existing political deadlock between Israel and Palestine cannot be resolved militarily. The current hostilities do not serve the long-term interest of any party. We have always believed in non-violent struggle and creative resistance to illegal state policies. Throughout our history we have worked to alleviate human suffering, promote peace and reconciliation.

We are afraid that this current wave of violence may force more Palestinian Christians to seek immigration. And what is the Holy Land without its Christians? To Palestinian Christians here in this land, I call upon you to remain, continuing your service as instruments of peace, brokers of justice, bridge builders, and agents of change.

In reaffirmation of our position, we call for:

  • Parties to the present conflict (Israel and Hamas) to agree upon an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities. This ceasefire should be facilitated by the international community to bring an end to human suffering. The focus of the international community should be on humanitarian and development assistance for the communities most negatively affected by the current round of violence. What Palestine and Israel need at the moment is justice, peace and dignity rather than the radicalization, revenge, and bloodshed promoted by one-sided diplomatic or military support for either group. The people of Palestine and Israel need to live in peace and dignity.
  • The resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace and a two-state solution based on 1967 borders and abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. The unity government of the Palestinian Authority should be respected. Any ceasefire addressing the immediate situation should be anchored in a long-term peace agreement in order to prevent other relapses into violence.
  • The lifting of the Israeli siege on Gaza. This indefinite siege on Gaza has created great suffering and instigated greater hostility. If a sustainable peace is to be achieved, Israel should lift its blockade. The unified Palestinian people of Gaza and the West Bank should enjoy their right to freedom of movement.
  • Critical support for healthcare infrastructure. The international community has long supported healthcare services for Palestinians, especially in the West Bank and Gaza. The present violence has severely affected healthcare infrastructure. We especially raise our concern for the financial crisis faced by Augusta Victoria Hospital and the system of East Jerusalem hospitals and medical centers.
  • Material support for interreligious cooperation and peacebuilding through the educational and diaconal ministries of the ELCJHL. These ministries empower the forces of moderation to build up civil society and create a shared future. Recurring cycles of violence place the church and related agencies in a chronic state of crisis and emergency, making it difficult for local institutions to thrive.
  • That the global Christian community—including the member churches of the Lutheran World Federation—provide necessary assistance to those who have been internally displaced or affected by the current wave of violence in one form or another and to help the economic and development growth of the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land raises its voice to ask all people of good will to intervene in the present situation of unacceptable violence and bloodshed. Your intervention and action will create hope in a hopeless situation. If we cannot take steps toward peace, we will continue to be held hostage by extremism. Please do not leave us alone in this moment of struggle. The whole Middle East is boiling. We need your prophetic voice and support so that peace built on justice and reconciliation built on forgiveness will prevail.

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Two-State Solution on the Line

Op-Ed Contributor
Two-State Solution on the Line
Published: November 25, 2012

In this New York Times Op-Ed, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland call for member countries to approve the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations and talk about their recent visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital following a round table with Palestinians in East Jerusalem:

“If the recent rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza tell us anything, it is that the status quo in the Middle East is not a safe choice for Israelis or Palestinians.

In the current political climate, it is highly unlikely that bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians can restart. Action is needed that will alter the current dynamic. As Elders, we believe that the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations is such a moment.

Continue reading “Two-State Solution on the Line”

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter leads delegation on visit to the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem

Dr. Tawfiq Nasser speaks with President Jimmy. Photo by Anna Johnson, LWF

A delegation from the group “The Elders” visited the Lutheran World Federation campus and Augusta Victoria Hospital on October 22, 2012. The delegation was led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and included former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson as well as former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), and Rev. Mark Brown, the Regional Representative of the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem and the Middle East, received the guests and spoke about the work of the Lutheran World Federation in areas of education and health, as well as the issues of access to healthcare facing Palestinians.

To read the full story, click here.

Jerusalem Health Institution Protects Patients’ Right to Human Dignity

LWF–Run Hospital and Vocational Training Centers Reach Out to Palestinians

EAST JERUSALEM/GENEVA, 1 October 2012 (LWI) – The Mount of Olives, a mountain ridge east of Jerusalem’s Old City in East Jerusalem, serves as the footing for the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) and the ultra modern medical services provided here.

Nadia is only five years old, but she is familiar with the corridors and staff at the AVH, a health institution run by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Her father does not want her picture taken or her real name used, but he willingly says that without the treatment Nadia gets at AVH, she would not be alive. Her kidney is not working properly, so she needs to come to the hospital three times a week for dialysis.

“The hospital bussing [bus transport] program helps us to assert the right to the treatment that Nadia so desperately needs,” he says.

No other hospital in the occupied Palestinian territories offers pediatric kidney dialysis. In addition, the AVH Cancer Care Center is the only radiation oncology facility operating in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Ear, nose and throat surgery, adult and pediatric kidney treatment, and pediatric oncology are a few examples of the specialized services available at the hospital, services that are not easily accessible or are unavailable in other hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Read the full article at the Lutheran World Federation website

East Jerusalem Conference on Faith Based Health Care Opens at Augusta Victoria Hospital

Rev. Mark Brown, Regional Representative for the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem, speaks at the opening of the East Jerusalem Conference on Faith Based Health Care at the Augusta Victoria Hospital

JERUSALEM, 14 November 2011 – On Sunday evening, 13 November 2011, the East Jerusalem Conference 2011 of the International Network of Leaders in Faith Based Health Care opened at the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) on the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Jerusalem campus on the Mount of Olives.

Rev. Mark Brown, Regional Representative for the LWF in Jerusalem, set the context for the conference with a summary of the history of the LWF work in healthcare in the region and reflections on the AVH mission and its continued commitment to caring for the whole person.

Bishop Dr. Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), who also serves as Chair of the AVH Board of Governance and President of the LWF, further elaborated on context and identity by delving into a Lutheran theological and diaconal understanding of the Church’s call in relation to health and wellness.

Referring to Martin Luther’s November 1527 response entitled “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” Younan approached the role of the church in holistic healthcare from a “theology of neighborliness” and Jesus’ call to pastors and leaders to be as shepherds who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep (John 10:11).

Younan further expanded on the diaconal roots of the ELCJHL that go back to 1851 and the arrival of four Daconesses from Kaiserwerth, Germany, and their mission to begin a school for the uplifting of young girls name Talitha Kumi.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Beate Jakob, from the German Institute for Medical Mission (DIFAEM) in Tübingen, Germany, provided an entry point for further discussion, raising questions of the role of the church in the field of health, the Christian understanding of health and its implications for a greater understanding of healing, and Christian health service examples from both the Global South and the Global North.

Under the motto of Faith in Leadership, the conference will continue through 16 November with a focus on the challenges of Context, Identity and Innovation. The conference includes global keynote presentations on the individual themes, multi-faith witness and worship. Subcategories of the conference will include streams on “Faith Base, Values, Diaconal Identity and Religious Health Assets;” and “Leadership and Capacity Building.”

This conference brings together praticipants gathered from around the world, including Germany, Great Britain, India, Mozambique, Norway, Palestine, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States of America, and Zambia.

The Faith Based Health Care Network was founded on 3 November 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia as “a network of leaders in Faith-based healthcare focusing on local expressions of practice.” The network brings together many different types of actors and organizations for the purpose of mutual support and inspiration.

To view more photos from the opening session and reception, click here or on the photo above. To learn more about the conference, or the Faith Based Health Care Network, click here to visit the conference website. To learn more about the AVH and the regional work of the LWF, click here.


U.S. Government Provides Augusta Victoria Hospital with New Radiation Therapy System

Representatives from USAID, LWF and AVH at the opening of the new linear accelerator

RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY. Representatives from USAID, LWF and AVH celebrated the inauguration of the new linear accelerator machine at the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on March 17, 2011.  Left to right: American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein; AVH CEO Dr. Tawfiq Nasser; Swedish Consul General in Jerusalem Axel Wernhoff; USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey; Representative of the EKD in the Holy Land Propst Dr. Uwe Grabe; AVH Board Chair and ELCJHL Bishop Dr. Munib Younan; German Representative Office in Ramallah Head of Mission Gotz Lingenthal; LWF Regional Representative Rev. Mark Brown; Cancer patient ‘A’; and LWF/AVH Accountant Mira Petro.

JERUSALEM, March 19, 2011/April 4, 2011 (LWF Jerusalem) – Augusta Victoria Hospital and partners celebrated the introduction of a new radiation therapy system on Thursday, March 17. The system, a medical linear accelerator, will double the capacity of the hospital’s current Radiology Unit, and will benefit Palestinian cancer patients by locally providing the highest-quality care available.

The accelerator was provided by the U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development Project.

Participants at the inauguration event included hospital staff, representatives from the Lutheran World Federation, which manages the Augusta Victoria Hospital, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), local health care leaders, and representatives from the U.S. Consulate General and other international diplomatic missions.

Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital, noted the significance of the additional medical linear accelerator by stating, “USAID managed in one gift to alleviate the national expenditure on health, create employment, treat patients, respond to the medical needs of West Bank and Gaza patients, and create medical specializations that are not available to the Palestinian community.”

Bishop Munib Younan blessing the new linear accelerator

BLESSING OF THE NEW RADIATION THERAPY SYSTEM. Left to right: AVH Board Chair and ELCJHL Bishop Dr. Munib Younan; LWF Regional Representative Rev. Mark Brown; American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein; USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey; Representative of the EKD in the Holy Land Propst Dr. Uwe Grabe; German Representative Office in Ramallah Head of Mission Gotz Lingenthal; AVH CEO Dr. Tawfiq Nasser; Swedish Consul General in Jerusalem Axel Wernhoff; Cancer patient ‘A’; Engineer Ibrahim Younan.

The new $4.9 million medical linear accelerator will help meet the current and future demands for treatment of cancer among the Palestinian population. Augusta Victoria Hospital was the first hospital to introduce a radiation therapy unit for the 3.8 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. The hospital also maintains the only pediatric cancer unit serving the Palestinian population.

President of the Lutheran World Federation and Bishop of the ELCJHL Dr. Munib A. Younan said the LWF is honored to have this role in serving the Palestinian population. “In our work here, we seek to bring people from Gaza and the West Bank to benefit from this ministry of healing in Jerusalem, for Jerusalem must always be the city of healing,” he stated.

The addition of a second medical linear accelerator will strengthen the hospital’s role as a comprehensive cancer treatment center, improve the quality and availability of cancer treatment, and will cost-effectively reduce the number of referrals abroad, meeting the priority needs of those it serves.

Speaking at the event, American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein told guests, “We are proud to assist a process that will help to provide a more positive future for Palestinian cancer patients, their families and all who dedicate time to their care.”

USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey added, “The purchase of this state-of-the-art equipment represents a long-term investment in a healthier future for Palestinians.”

The U.S. Government through USAID is supporting the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health to strengthen its institutional capacity to sustain a functional and democratic Palestinian health sector that is able to meet priority public health needs. In addition, the project supports select non-governmental organizations like Augusta Victoria Hospital in providing services that complement the Ministry’s reform and development agenda to improve quality, sustainability and equity within the health sector.

In his remarks, Rev. Mark Brown, Regional Representative of the Lutheran World Federation, expressed his gratitude to the American people and government and affirmed the commitment of the LWF to “continue to serve in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza and uphold the rights of the poor and oppressed until the day when they see their freedoms and rights returned.”

Rev. Brown gave special thanks at the event to Dr. Nasser and the Augusta Victoria Hospital staff. “All of this would not have been achieved without the dedication of our staff,” he said. “They work with remarkable determination every day and face very difficult and sad life situations with courage. They treat, but more importantly they give hope, love and care, to sick children and adults.”

Acknowledgments were also given to the Norwegian Government for its support in building the radiation-safe facility in which the new linear accelerator machine is housed.

Click here to learn more about Augusta Victoria Hospital and the work of the LWF in Jerusalem.

Norway’s foreign minister offers support for ELCJHL

ELCJHL Bishop Munib A. Younan met with Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre on Jan. 18, 2010. Younan said the minister expressed his support for the ELCJHL and its ministries, as well as the Augusta Victoria Hospital, which is a ministry of the Lutheran World Federation. Younan met with Støre and other members of Norway’s diplomatic corps in West Jerusalem.

Click here to read the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ article on the meeting.


Ten Redeemer Students Confirmed at Lutheran Church of the Ascension on the Mt. of Olives

Redeemer Confirmation 2007

Ten students of the ELCJHL’s Redeemer Lutheran Church were confirmed today at a special worship service held at the Lutheran Church of the Ascension on the Mt. of Olives Augusta Victoria Compound. During the festive service, the confirmands spoke the creed and prayers together and were confirmed by Bishop Munib Younan, Pastor Sani Ibrahim Azar and Finnish Deacon Tappany.

More photos