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.

Bishop Younan Assures Egyptian Copts of LWF Communion Prayer – LWF

JERUSALEM/GENEVA, 17 February 2015 (LWI) – Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has assured the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt of prayers and solidarity from the Lutheran communion following the recent killings of Coptic Christians by extremists affiliated to the militant group IS.

In a letter to Pope Tawadros II, Younan, also LWF President, said the killing of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya was not only an attack on humanity and on followers of Jesus Christ, but also “against people of every religion who stand for peace justice and freedom.”

“Your struggle is our struggle; your grief is our grief,” the LWF president wrote to the Coptic church leader, assuring him of prayers from the LWF communion.

A video released on 15 February depicts the killings of the Christians in Libya, believed to be kidnapped Egyptians.

To read this article in its original form, you can visit the Lutheran World Federation’s website.
To view the letter Bishop Younan wrote to Pope Tawadros II, you can view it here. (PDF)

Condolences to The People of Denmark After The Violent Attacks in Copenhagen

Her Excellency the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt
His Excellency the Speaker of the Parliament, Mogens Lykketoft
Copenhagen, Denmark

Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.


Dear Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt and Speaker Lykketoft,

SaIaam and grace to you from Jerusalem.

I am writing to express my condolences to you and to the people of Denmark after the violent attacks in Copenhagen on Saturday. The perpetrator’s targets, a freedom of speech event and a synagogue, were clearly chosen to strike at the values held dear by the people of Denmark. We stand with you in strong opposition to all such acts of terror, extremism, and violence, wherever they occur in the world and whoever is the perpetrator. I hope that these incidents will only strengthen the people of Denmark to stand firm with the values of pluralism and freedom for all people.

Please know that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is praying for the wounded and the grieving, and for you as a leader in this difficult time. Your struggle is our struggle; your grief is our grief.

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


Bishop Dr. Munib Younan

Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Our sincerest thanks to His Excellency, the Speaker of the Parliament, for his response:

Dear Honorable Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan,

Thank you for your very strong and kind words to me and the people of Denmark.  I hope and believe that the terrible events will lead us to standing even closer together across different religions and political affiliations to Denmark the basic values of Danish democracy.

Sincerely yours,
Mogens Lykketoft
Speaker of the Parliament of Denmark

ELCJHL Mourns Death of Rev. Numan Smir

Rev. Numan Smir

JERUSALEM – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land sadly announces the death of Rev. Numan Smir, retired pastor of the ELCJHL.  Rev. Smir served the church in a number of capacities, at one point being president of the Synod. His pastoral career began at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala before he helped found the Good Shepherd Church in Amman, Jordan, a community that he served from 1976 until his retirement in 1992. Rev. Numan Smir died on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at the age of 81. The ELCJHL sends their condolences to Rev. Smir’s wife May and his children, Bassam, Husam, and Marwan. The funeral service will take place Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Amman, Jordan.  We ask for your prayers at this time.


LWF Pays Tribute to Pope Shenouda’s Commitment to Interfaith Dialogue

Pope Shenouda III and Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan exchange greetings at a past meeting of the Middle East Council of Churches. © ELCJHL

Coptic Church Leader Had “Deep Passion” for the Gospel, Says Bishop Younan

JERUSALEM/GENEVA 29 March 2012 (Lutheran World Information) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President, Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, expressed LWF’s sympathy and prayers with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in Egypt, following the death of Pope Shenouda III.

“We pray for you and the whole Coptic Church … in this difficult time of loss of a beloved leader,” said Younan in a letter of condolence to the Secretary of the Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church Metropolitan Bishoy.

Shenouda III served as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa from 1971 until his death on 17 March, aged 88. He was buried on 20 March.

Younan, who is also bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, described the Coptic Church leader as a person with a “deep passion” for the gospel, church mission, and the well-being of the world.

He was “a man of dialogue, recognizing the importance of cooperation among churches in the Middle East. He was a promoter of interfaith discussions, especially with the Muslim community of Egypt, promoting a dialogue for life,” the LWF president continued.

In the context of the Lent season, Younan emphasized the Christian calling to “walk together in preparation for Christ’s death on Good Friday, yet looking beyond the tomb to the glorious expression of God’s love in the Resurrection.”

The Coptic Orthodox Church has an estimated 12 million followers in Egypt.

Shock and Horror at Attacks in Norway

Floral tributes outside Oslo Cathedral © Gunnar Grøsland

LWF prays for victims and expresses its solidarity

Geneva, 24 July 2011 (LWI) – The President and General Secretary of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have reacted with shock and horror to the attacks in Norway’s capital, Oslo, and on the island of Utøya.

In a letter of condolence addressed to Permanent Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien of the Church of Norway and President Rev. Arnfinn Løyning of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway, LWF President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan and LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge assured the Norwegian church leaders of the Lutheran communion’s solidarity.

“In this shocking and horrific time for Norway, our hearts go out to you, to all the people of your churches, and to all Norwegians,” they said. “Especially in our prayers are the families and loved ones of those whose lives were so senselessly taken yesterday.”

In the words of Junge and Younan, the LWF communion was praying that the courage of the Norwegian people would not be broken at this time of mourning for the victims of the tragedy, and of grieving by those near and dear to them.

They noted that for many years Norway had been a “beacon of peace and peacemaking, locally, nationally and internationally.” The LWF leaders spoke of their deep sorrow “that Norway itself now has suffered such violence.”

Speaking on behalf of the whole LWF, they concluded by expressing the hope that “in the aftermath of your shock and grief, Norwegians will soberly recommit themselves to your special calling in our troubled world–to work for peace and justice, and thereby help to make this world a better place.” (281 words)

Visit the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) site for the original article and to learn more.

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.

Bishop Younan’s Mother Dies

Bishop Younan and His Mother

Bishop Younan’s mother died on Christmas, after having been ill for years. The funeral will take place Wednesday, Dec 26, at Redeemer Church in the Old City. We pray for eternal peace for her and God’s comfort and strength for the family.

ELCJHL Remembers Bishop Emeritus Daoud Haddad

Bishop Haddad

More than 200 gathered in the Church of the Ascension in the Augusta Victoria Hospital complex on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem Sunday for the funeral of Bishop Emeritus Daoud Haddad, the first bishop of the ELCJHL. The burial followed in Bethlehem, where the Beit Sahour Scout Troop met the procession to the cemetery. Bishop Haddad died Monday, March 19, after a brain hemorrhage suffered the previous Friday. We mourn his loss and offer our prayers to his family that he leaves behind, his wife, Aida; sons Usama and Charlie; daughters Carol, Beatrice and Erna; beloved grandchildren, and many friends and colleagues.

Bishop Haddad was born in Lebanon in 1914, studied theology in Switzerland and then Germany, and was ordained in Jerusalem in 1940. He was consecrated as the first Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan in 1979, and served until 1986, when he was succeeded by the late Bishop Naim Nasser. Bishop Munib Younan followed Bishop Nasser in 1997.

For more about his life, click here (Doc).

For pictures from Bishop Haddad’s life, click here.

Ten-Year Old Girl Killed by IDF at Anata School

Thursday, 18 January 2007
(Jerusalem) Maisa Abu Ghazaleh
by Palestinian News Network

Israeli soldiers

Abir was carrying a book, a notebook and some pens in her 10 year old hands. She had yet to participate in a demonstration or a march protesting occupation, but that did not stop Israeli soldiers from hitting her.

Abir Aramin was only injured at first by the gas bomb that was shot at the back of her head. She had just stepped out of the Anata School for Girls after taking a test when the gas canister hit her and she was knocked to the ground.

Israeli forces in Jerusalem had penetrated the town and began indiscriminately opening fire while detonating gas and sound bombs. Some young people responded with stones. Abir was the victime of the war game that the Israeli soldiers play daily when they enter the town during school hours and begin shooting near the Anata schools. These children are under 13 years of age, and do not fall prey to the taunting.

Abir’s father, Bassam Aramin, said, “I contacted the school administration while I was on my way to work and they told me that my daughter had been knocked to the ground and suffered a head injury. I thought it was just something simple. I contacted her mother and asked if she could go to the school and check it. But over the telephone I learned that the soldiers had done it and that Abir had been rushed to Makassed Hospital.”

During her first examination we learned that her skull had been fractured and that she had bleeding in her brain. She was initially treated and then we rushed her to Hadassah Hospital, Ein Karim Branch, in order to follow up the situation which was described in both hospitals as serious. Abir was lying in intensive care and in critical condition. She underwent brain surgery at 9:00 pm as her health deteriorated.

On Thursday Abir died from the injuries.

Abir’s father works for the Jerusalem Society for Democracy and Dialogue and said, “I work in peace organizations and want to appeal to the entire work that what we want is a just and honorable peace. That is what is not wanted by the Israeli leadership.”

Bassam Aramin had some words for the Israeli government. “The victims among the Palestinian people are no less important than Israeli people. We are all human beings.” He called on Israeli mothers to not be “tools of the occupation by sending their children to the battlefield without reason.” Aramin explained, “My daughter is a victim of a systematic oppressive policy and the Israelis must end the occupation and say yes to peace.”

The Director of the Anata School for Girls said Wednesday that she regrets what happened to Abir Aramin. “What happened yesterday is a deliberate and provocative exercise practiced by border guards since the beginning of exams at the end of the first quarter at students in all of the Anata Secondary schools.” She added, “The border guards are present daily at the doors of the Anata School for Boys and that for girls, and around Saladin Street where they know the kids must pass to reach buses or to walk home. They provoke the students by throwing grenades at them.”

The school director appealed for international protection for Palestinian school students.