Bishop Younan’s Speech to the Fellowship of of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) On The Ecumenical Response to the Present Middle East Crisis

CAIRO, September 10th 


 

Your Beatitudes,
Your Eminences,
People of God,

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Jesus Christ says to us today, “Get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you.” (Acts 26.16–17)

Today, as I come before you to discuss the crisis facing the Middle East and especially the crisis facing Arab and Middle Eastern Christians, these words of the risen Christ to the Saul resonate for us and for the communities we represent. “Get up and stand on your feet!” “I will rescue you!” There is work to be done in my name.

I have been asked to speak on the ecumenical response to our present crisis. Therefore, my message today is both internal and external, speaking to Christians in the Middle East as well as to the global Body of Christ. An ecumenical response—a response by the entire household of Christian faith—is necessarily global. But the response must first begin with us. As Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3.25). In the presence of these pressing challenges, it is time to get our Arab Christian house in order.

Continue reading “Bishop Younan’s Speech to the Fellowship of of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) On The Ecumenical Response to the Present Middle East Crisis”

Urgent Appeal from the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon to all the Evangelical and Protestant Churches and Organizations Across the World

1. We, the leaders of Evangelical and Protestant churches and organizations affiliated to the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, have met together at this critical juncture of our history in order to
reflect on the current situation, and on the tragic events that our people in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are passing through. We are most concerned over the great human suffering and political difficulties that our people in these countries are facing. We have deeply reflected upon this deteriorating state of affairs, and have been greatly disturbed and shocked by the ugly incidents of violence that innocent civilians and entire communities, especially Christian, have been subjected to.

2. We also write to you in solidarity with the various appeals and statements that have been issued by the leaders of our sister Eastern Churches, as well as by some Islamic groups, concerning the recent development of events in Iraq; and especially the forced displacement and murderous killings of individuals and groups by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), killings that verge on being a bona fide genocide.

Continue reading “Urgent Appeal from the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon to all the Evangelical and Protestant Churches and Organizations Across the World”

Statement of the Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)

AMMONNEWS – The General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Fr. Michel Jalakh, called the Presidents of the Council to an extraordinary meeting in Amman, Jordan, on June 19th, 2014, which was hosted by His Beatitude Theophilos III.

The Presidents were mindful of the commitment of His Majesty King Abdullah II to advocating for the Christian presence in the Kingdom, and were grateful for his continued support. In attendance were His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, President of the Eastern Orthodox family, His Beatitude Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch for Syriac Catholic Church, President of the Catholic family, His Grace Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, President of the Evangelical family, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, President of the Oriental Orthodox family, represented by the co-Presidents.

Pastor Dr. Habib Badr, President of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut and Honorary Treasurer of MECC attended also the meeting.

The Presidents were joined for lunch by members of the diplomatic corps and honored Jordanian and international guests. His Beatitude Theophilos III welcomed guests and introduced his co-Presidents as well as Fr Michel Jalakh, Middle East Council of Churches Secretary General. Following lunch, the Presidents resumed discussion and released the results of their meeting in the following statement:

The current unexpected events taking place in Iraq join a further deterioration within countries in the region, and the Presidents share in the suffering of these tragic events along with the innocent victims of hatred and violence.

The people of Iraq are at risk of being dominated by political and religious extremism, a fact that calls upon us and the whole world to raise awareness and take immediate measures. The Presidents of the Middle East Council of Churches condemn all forms of violence against churches, mosques and other religious institutions. They encourage all Christians and people of goodwill to stand strong and not be afraid and to remember that they, together with their Muslim brothers and sisters, are the children of the same land and all share a common human nature and destiny.

Therefore, we must respect and support one another as brothers and sisters.

The Presidents stand in compassion and prayer for all those in exile, displaced in Syria and in neighboring countries. We call upon all concerned parties to seek reconciliation without racial or religious discrimination. We call to release the two kidnapped archbishops Boulos Yaziji and Yuhanna Ibrahim, in addition to all kidnapped priests and innocent people.

Furthermore, the Presidents of MECC, comprised of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Evangelical, and Catholic families, call upon peacemakers in the entire international community, to defend the dignity and rights of all humans as well as freedom of religious expression, to quickly and effectively interfere in order to help our people to be liberated from the dreadful spiral of hatred and violence. We strongly condemn all forms of violence, regardless of who is the perpetrator, while simultaneously praying for peace, justice and reconciliation. We extend these prayers all over the world, but especially for all people of the Holy Land, to pursue peace, so that Jerusalem may be a beacon of peace throughout the world.

We, the Presidents of the MECC, ask the Holy Spirit to guide our churches in the bond of love in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

To read the article at it’s original site, you can visit Ammon News.

ELCJHL and National Evangelical Church in Beirut Concelebrate Holy Communion

The concelebration between Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut.
The concelebration between Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut.
The concelebration between Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut. (© National Evangelical Church in Beirut)

BEIRUT – On March 9th, 2014, in conjunction with the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Rev. Dr. Habib Badr of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut concelebrated Holy Communion.

In 2006, the ELCJHL and six Reformed churches in the Middle East signed a mutual recognition agreement called the Amman Declaration.  Through this declaration, the churches recognize each other as apostolic churches in preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments.  We mutually accept the validity of each church’s ministry and we continue to ask the Holy Spirit to bless this declaration and that it would lead us to the unity .

Bishop Younan preached in the service, emphasizing the modern temptation in the Middle East is to both read the Scriptures incorrectly and to allow extremism to spread.  In light of these temptations, we should, as churches, be united and in this unity we can be an integral part of our people and living witnesses to Arab society.

Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, head of the National Evangelical Church in Beirut, proclaimed the concelebration of Holy Communion as a historic moment as this was the first time that the ELCJHL and the National Evangelical Church in Beirut celebrated at the Lord’s table together.  This is a sign for the Evangelical Churches in the Middle East that there is no other way, except through unity and a common Evangelical witness.

To see photos from the concelebration, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.
To read more about the Amman Declaration, you can visit the ELCJHL’s website.

French President Hollande Meets With Palestinian Christians

French President Hollande meets with Christian leaders in Jerusalem.
French President Hollande meets with Christian leaders in Jerusalem.
French President Hollande meets with Christian leaders in Jerusalem. (© French Embassy)

French President, François Hollande, met with Christian leaders in Jerusalem on Monday, November 18th, at St. Ann’s Church in the Old City of Jerusalem to discuss the Christian presence in the Holy Land and the issues surrounding Jerusalem.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos, Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal, and Archbishop Youssef Jules El Zereyi of the Greek Catholic Patriarchate, and ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan in speaking with President Hollande about Jerusalem as a shared capital for two states and three religions.

President Hollande told the gathered leaders that France has historically been a protector of Catholicism in the Holy Land and will continue to help Catholics and all Christians who live here.  Patriarch Twal asked President Hollande if France could request that funds be earmarked for Christian health and education out of the money that France currently provides to the Palestinian Authority.

Patriarch Theophilos conveyed to the President that the time is now for people and governments around the world to support a Christian presence in Jerusalem so that the legacy and care of Christian holy places could continue, uninterrupted for over 2,000 years.

Bishop Younan addressed the audience about the importance that President Hollande met with Christian leaders in St. Ann’s Church in Jerusalem.  Bishop Younan emphasized the necessity of speaking out for a shared Jerusalem, the importance of interfaith dialogue, including the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL), and interfaith dialogue’s role in building up trust between the three religions and their work in peace education.

CRIHL’s recent study of textbooks in Israel and Palestine found that many textbooks in Israeli and Palestinian schools do not support co-existence of peoples or a shared Jerusalem.  Bishop Younan and the other religious leaders hoped to convey to President Hollande, those gathered, and to leaders around the world that there will be no peace without justice in Jerusalem, a city that is open to all people, that will be without walls and without an army.

To read the textbook study completed by CRIHL, visit their website here.

Global Religious Leaders Endorse “Welcoming the Stranger” Affirmations

LWF President Younan (third left) at the Religions for Peace Assembly. Photo: Religions for Peace
LWF President Younan (third left) at the Religions for Peace Assembly. Photo: Religions for Peace
LWF President Younan (third left) at the Religions for Peace Assembly. Photo: Religions for Peace

LWF President Younan: Apply Justice by Accepting “the Other”

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan joined global religious leaders in signing the historic “Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders” that pledge support for refugees, internally displaced and stateless persons, and to work against xenophobia.

The signing took place on 21 November at the 9th Assembly of Religions for Peace held in Vienna, Austria, and attended by more than 600 delegates representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths. A representative from each religion read a part of the document before signing it.

The affirmations developed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) following an LWF-led initiative, were launched in June this year, and endorsed by the LWF Council at its meeting the same month.

Younan said the signing of “Welcoming the Stranger” less than a year after its initiation was an emotional event, which illustrated what can happen when religious leaders and politicians work for the good of humanity.

Continue reading “Global Religious Leaders Endorse “Welcoming the Stranger” Affirmations”

LWF: Joint Lutheran-Catholic Publication on Reformation Launched

PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch
PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch reflects on “From Conflict to Communion.” © LWF/S. Gallay

Cardinal Koch: Keynote Address to LWF Council

(LWI) Presenting the keynote address to the Council of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) today, Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), reflected on the joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic publication, “From Conflict to Communion,” which was launched during the meeting of the LWF governing body.

Koch expressed his strong hope that the document will be mutually received by Lutherans and Catholics at global and local levels.

“From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration in 2017,” has been published by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity in the context of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the 50th anniversary of dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics in 2017. It builds on important ecumenical milestones especially the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ).

In his address to the LWF governing body, the PCPCU president reflected on the opportunities that a common Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary would offer; the need to listen to one another about the meaning of the commemoration for both sides; rediscovering what Lutherans and Catholics have in common by having the courage to address the conflicts in the Reformation history; and the significance of the current document for the further dialogue process.

Koch said that the decision by the Lutheran – Roman Catholic Commission on Unity to follow up their dialogue process on the topic of baptism under the working title ‘Baptism and Growing in Communion,” was much to be welcomed, as it represents a further important step on the path of deepening understanding between Lutherans and Catholics. He also proposed that this would open a possibility for the preparation of a future joint declaration on church, Eucharist and ministry.

“The true success of the Reformation can only be achieved through the overcoming of our inherited divisions in a renewed Church consisting of all Christians, and that consequently our ecumenical efforts aimed at recovering unity are actually a completion of the work of the Reformation itself,” Koch said.

Questions about Eucharistic Hospitality

Responding to Cardinal Koch’s address, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan noted that local relationships with Catholics take different shapes in the respective regions and the LWF member churches. “It is my sense that this document can be an important tool in improving relationships and, more importantly, common witness, in all contexts.”

In a plenary discussion following the presentation of “Conflict to Communion” LWF Council members welcomed the publishing of the publication at the global dialogue level, but also expressed hope for its practical reception and relevance at the grassroots.

To read more, visit the Lutheran World Federation’s website.

ELCJHL Bishop Younan Condemns Kidnapping of Syrian Christian Leaders

With anger and dismay, we have heard the news of the abduction of Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo (brother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East), and Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo. We strongly condemn this heinous act.

The conflict in Syria is neither religious nor sectarian, but political. We urge all sides to refrain from using religion as a weapon in this conflict. These bishops were with some of their priests and deacons (one of whom was killed as he was driving). We know very well that the role these bishops are playing in Aleppo is to encourage the Syrian Christians, and strengthen them to remain in their land. As their brothers and sisters in the ELCJHL, we demand the immediate release of these two bishops, and that they be unharmed—in good health, with no trauma.

We call upon Arab and Middle East Christians and Muslims of goodwill to join forces for peace and justice in resolving this problem. We ask for prayers for the Syrian people, and for those who have been abducted without cause, particularly these bishops, who are simply being faithful shepherds of their people.

Every day, my heart aches with each new report of bloodshed and violence. Bloodshed like this will only bring hatred, revenge, and retaliation; not reform or peace. We call on all governments of the world to discontinue providing weapons for all sides in this conflict and demand a return to diplomatic relations so that people can live with dignity and their full human rights.

Furthermore, as one of the presidents of the MECC, I stand in solidarity with the Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox church, with the diocese and with the patriarchs of the churches, remembering the words of Jesus Christ:

 “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).

ELCJHL Bishop Decries Sectarian Violence in Egypt

 

JERUSALEM, 8/4/2013 – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land condemns in no uncertain terms the violence perpetrated against Coptic Christians as they mourned the deaths of four Copts at a funeral service on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo. The victims were killed on April 4 and 5 in al-Khosous, Qaliubiya.

“I am horrified at the reports of sectarian violence erupting at the close of the service and the injuries and death which resulted from young Muslims attacking the funeral procession from area rooftops,” stated Bishop Younan.

“This kind of violence is certainly not representative of Islam as a whole, nor does it reflect the teachings of the Qur’an. Anytime extremists use religion as a rationale for perpetrating crimes against others, God is deeply grieved,” Younan stated.

“I call on my church, the ELCJHL, and all Arab Christians to pray. I join my prayers with those of His Holiness, Pope Tawadros II, for the protection of the community under his care. These prayers extend to all Christians in Egypt and indeed for the preservation of Egypt itself for the good of all its citizens. A stronger, safer Egypt will be a benefit for all of its people and a sign of hope in our troubled region.”

Younan also stated “It is necessary to respect the existence of every religion. I agree with Khalif Omar Elkattab, who says, ‘Your freedom ends where the other’s freedom starts.’ We religious leaders should not allow our countries to become sectarian battlefields. This is not what God intends for creation.”

“I call on the President and the government, who are responsible to protect every Egyptian citizen. Further, it is the responsibility of the government to prevent attacks in any religious place. These are attacks on the human rights and religious freedoms of all. In addition, I call on the government to revisit the constitution so that every Egyptian has equal rights under the law.”

“I am encouraged to hear reports of a Muslim gathering outside the cathedral who sang ‘Christians and Muslims are from one hand.’ For citizens of the one Egypt, this statement of coexistence is the normal way of living in the Middle East. This is the kind of rhetoric that needs to be met with definitive actions by both Christians and Muslims so that peace and equality will be fully manifest in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.”

Visit elcjhl.org to learn more about the mission and ministry of the ELCJHL.

Bishop Younan Meets With The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem

speaking-with-the-latin-and-syrian-patriarchs
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.

heads-of-churches
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.