Church Council from Church of Norway Visits ELCJHL Church Council

Bishop Munib Younan addresses the assembled Church Councils. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)
Bishop Munib Younan addresses the assembled Church Councils. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)
Bishop Munib Younan addresses the assembled Church Councils. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

BEIT JALA – Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt, Bishop of the Diocese of Borg, Church of Norway, and the Church Council from the same region visited the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan of the Holy Land from Thursday, February 26th, 2015 to March 2nd, 2015 in a bid to strengthen their relationship and to learn more about the operation of each church’s council.

The meeting included discussions on being the Lutheran Church in each church’s unique context as well as finding new ways in which the churches could further develop cooperation between not only each Church Council, but between the church bodies as a whole.

Bishop Younan remarked on the visit: “This is a remarkable thing that we have really met the two church councils – with our ELCJHL pastors – and have discussed the issue of Lutheran identity in both Norwegian and Palestinian contexts.  We have seen both the similarities and differences.  Meetings of church councils will only deepen the relationship between the two churches.  I am asking others to seriously think of adopting an agenda where church councils have the opportunity to meet – worshipping with us and seeing our reality as well as discussing issues of concern, differences, and even issues of disagreement in each church deepens our sense of communion.”

Bishop Munib Younan and the ELCJHL thank Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt and the Church Council of the Diocese of Borg for their visit and for further deepening the relationship between the two churches.

PHOTOS: Carnival at Al-Mahaba Kindergarten

JERUSALEM – Al-Mahaba Kindergarten held a carnival celebration on February 19th, 2015.  They celebrated with costumes, music, dance, and special treats!

NEWS: Christmas Lutheran Church Participates in Eighth Annual Simulcast

BETHLEHEM – The Eighth Annual Christmas Simulcast between Christmas Lutheran Church- Bethlehem and the Washington National Cathedral took place on Saturday, December 20th, 2014.  Music, prayers, and messages were featured in both Bethlehem and Washington D.C.

For those who missed the live stream of the simulcast, but would still like to watch the event, you can view it here: http://www.cathedral.org/exec/cathedral/mediaPlayer2013?MediaID=MED-702LA-1P001Q&EventID=CAL-6T4C1-LE000G

PHOTOS: Church of the Reformation’s Christmas Bazaar

BEIT JALA – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala held their annual Christmas bazaar from December 4th-6th, 2014.

 

 

 

PHOTOS: 2014 Joint Reformation Service

(© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

JERUSALEM – The Arabic, English, and German congregations gathered together on Friday, October 31st, 2014 for the annual Reformation Day service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem.

Women’s Conference on Protection of Women Held in Jordan

The 2014 Women's Desk Conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan (© ELCJHL)
The 2014 Women's Desk Conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan (© ELCJHL)
The 2014 Women’s Desk Conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan (© ELCJHL)

DEAD SEA, JORDAN – The Women’s Desk of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land held a Summer Women’s Conference for the Lutheran women of Jordan at the Dead Sea from June 10-12, 2014.  The Women’s Desk, headed by Suad Younan and facilitated by Bassimah Jarayseh, invited speakers to discuss working to move forward laws that protect women in Jordan.

Mrs. Suad Younan started the conference with a discussion of the four pillars of UN Resolution 1325, a resolution on the protection of women:  prevention, participation, protection, and relief and recovery.   The discussion continued with the help of Advocate Lubna Dawani, a Jordanian lawyer and Vice President and Board Member of MIZAN, a law group concerned with human rights.  Ms. Dawani discussed the status of Family Law in Jordan, as well as human and gender rights as outlined in Jordanian law.  The ELCJHL and the Women’s Desk in particular are hoping to prepare a national action plan concerning families and to help inform laws on women’s rights and health, not just at the local level, but also at the national level.

Dr. Abeer El-Far, a Jordanian psychologist and Vice President of the Jordanian Psychological Association, spent time discussing emotional intelligence and domestic abuse with the women.  Ms. El-Far also led an activity with the women concerning their self-critical and self-confident emotions.

The conference ended with Bible studies on Luke and Mark, as well as prayer for both the attendees and the coordinators of the event.

To view photos from the event, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.

Lay Preacher’s Academy Holds Conference at Dead Sea

DEAD SEA, JORDAN – The Lay Preacher’s Academy, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land designed to promote congregational lay members into the ordained ministry of the church, held a preaching conference at the Dead Sea in Jordan.  Participants practiced their sermon skills as well as listened to lectures on subjects such as worship and communion presented by Bishop Munib Younan and Dr. Munther Ishaq.  The conference was part of the continuing education of the Lay Preachers.  The first graduates of the Academy will be honored this fall when they complete the course.

To view photos from the conference, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery
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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

ELCJHL and Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland Host Second Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Participants of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue pose for a photo during a pause in sessions.
Participants of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue pose for a photo during a pause in sessions.
Participants of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue pose for a photo during a pause in sessions.

JERUSALEM – From April 29th to May 1st, 2014, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland continued the discussion started in 2013.  The Jewish-Christian dialogue, led by Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and Rev. Barbara Rudolph and Rev. Dr. Volker Haarmann of the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland, was a  conference on the meaning of land and water to both faith traditions.  The participants spent three days of discussion on land and water in Scripture and what the passages means for Jewish and Christian self-understanding, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the occupation. Participants included Jewish and Christians leaders from around the world, including Germany, The United States, Palestine, Israel, and Holland.

Bishop Munib Younan opened the conference with readings from the Book of Isaiah and a greeting to all of the participants.  The participants not only discussed water and land, but also visited the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour, where they learned about the ELCJHL Schools and the Vocational Program in Beit Sahour.  Bishop Younan was grateful for the civility and openness of dialogue and stated that he hoped the discussion with the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland would continue.

To see photos from the conference and from the visit to the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour, you can visit the ELCJHL’s photo gallery.