1. The historical (Status quo) situation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram Asharif) and its courtyard, all buildings, and in the city of Jerusalem, should not be changed;2. They emphasized full right of Muslims to worship and freedom of access to the Al Aqsa Mosque and its exclusive ownership by Muslims of all the world.3. They stressed the importance of the custody of the Hashemite kingdom on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy Islamic and Christian places in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.4. They underlined the continuity of the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Covenant that brings Christians and Muslims together as one of fraternal coexistence in the Holy City, which is unique in the entire world. This covenant respects the rights of Christians to worship and the full practice of their religion.
JERUSALEM – On November 10th, 2014, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem visited Sheikh Abed Al-Atheem, Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Azam Abed Alkhatib Altamimi, Head of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem to show their support for the historical Status Quo and a show of solidarity between the two faiths. The Heads of Churches included His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox Church, and His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal of the Latin Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Nourhan Manougian of the Armenian Church, His Grace Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, as well as representatives from the Coptic and Anglican churches.
Tensions have mounted in recent days due to a perceived possibility to a change in the Status Quo as well as the shooting of a right-wing rabbi who was pushing for a change in the historical Status Quo involving the Haram Esh-Sharif.
“Holy places must not become political. Some are trying to make the political conflict into a religious war where we will all be losers, except for the extremists,” said Bishop Munib Younan.
Under the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, Jordan has custodianship of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Nearly two years ago, President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding that Jordan, through the King, is custodian of the Holy Sites.
Bishop Younan spoke out against any changes to the historical Status Quo: “In Jerusalem, it is very important to keep both the historic Status Quo, freedom of religion, and access to Holy Places.”
AL-AZHAR, Egypt – With the help of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), the leadership of the Mainline Evangelical Churches of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt were given a chance to meet with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Excellency Ahmed Tayyib, the highest authority of Islam.
Led by Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, General Director of CEOSS and President of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), and in the presence of the General Secretary of FMEEC, Mrs. Rosangela Jarjour, the heads of churches discussed the significance of Al-Azhar and the significance of the Grand Imam using his authority to speak out for moderate Islam.
CAIRO, September 10th
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.
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.
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.
Court Rules That Christian Publication May Not Use “Allah” Name
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has expressed deep concern over a Court of Appeal ruling in Malaysia, forbidding a Roman Catholic publication from using the Malay-language word “Allah” for God.
In a 5 November letter to LWF member church leaders in Malaysia, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge called the ruling an attempt to suppress freedom of religion and expression in Malaysia that could lead to confusion, resentment and discord.
“This ruling … goes against the centuries-old, well-accepted use of the word ‘Allah’ by Arab Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world; violates the freedom of religion and freedom of expression of Christians in Malaysia; and threatens to create unnecessary division and discord between Christians and Muslims in Malaysia,” they said.
UNHCR Initiative Supports Refugees’ Protection and Promotes Interreligious Cooperation
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has endorsed a historic code of conduct declaration that calls for faith leaders, faith-based organizations and communities to enhance efforts to embrace and support millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people, and to stand united against xenophobia.
“I fully endorse the ‘Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders’” Younan told over 150 participants including religious leaders, diplomats and representatives from 25 faith based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the 12 June “Affirmations” document launch, hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The declaration is the culmination of a High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Faith and Protection convened last December by UNHCR chief, Mr António Guterres, and attended by representatives of major faith groups and academics. It concluded with a recommendation for the development of a code of conduct for faith leaders, initially suggested by the LWF president and subsequently backed by all participants,
This was followed up with the drafting of the “Affirmations” between February and April by a coalition of faith-based organizations and academic institutions which included, among others, the LWF, Jesuit Refugee Service, Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Council of Churches, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
The text of the declaration draws upon principles and values of welcome that are deeply rooted in all major religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. It is expected to be used worldwide to foster support for refugees and other people displaced in their communities.
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.