The Church: Called to a Ministry of Reconciliation

The closing day of the weeklong LWF Council Annual Meeting began with a prayer service at the wall, praying for an end to divisions, walls, violence and occupation. It ended with the Council adopting a statement calling for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a two-state solution with a shared Jerusalem. Holding the Annual Meeting in the Holy Land was important for the 170 people gathered, participants and hosts alike.

Bishop Younan, at an opening press conference in Jerusalem Aug 30, thanked the Council for coming to the cradle of Christian faith where Palestinian Christians have been custodians of the faith from the beginning:

LWF President Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA; LWF Vice-Chair Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and the Rev. Ishmael Noko, LWF General Secretary led the prayer service at the Wall near the entrance to Bethlehem. Photo by LWF/D.-MGrotzsch.

Our roots are here.
Your roots are here.
By coming here you tell us
that we are not alone.
–ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan, LWF Vice Chair

The LWF Council held its Annual Meeting in Jerusalem and Bethlehem from August 30 – September 6, gathering 170 people from the almost 70 million Lutherans they represent worldwide in almost 80 countries. President Hanson said that their presence in the Holy Land was a way to stand in solidarity with the ELCJHL: “to be present here, accompanying one another, learning from one another while standing shoulder to shoulder in the context of the other.”

Many expressed shock and outrage at the Wall and how it was affecting daily life by splitting families from their churches, land, jobs and communities. “How can this be happening in this day and age?” asked one conference participant. She said she understood the need for Israeli security and fighting terrorism, but punishing a whole people for the acts of a few was illegal and immoral.

Women of the ELCJHL Encounters on ‘Reconciliation’

JERUSALEM, April 14, 2000 – Two one-day encounters took place in the Redeemer Church on the subject of “Reconciliation,” one on 19 November 1999 and the other on 14 April 2000. Both programs were launched with brief worship services that were followed by sessions that included expositions and logical disputations on this highly-discussed subject. Women’s physical and mental health issues were explored with the help of professionals in the field of spirituality, psychology and psychiatry. The leaders were Dr. Amal Merizian Khazen, head of the Nazareth Hospital Nursing School, and Dr. Vivica Hazboun who manages the Family and Child Counseling Center in Bethlehem.

Guideline questions for the two encounters were as follows:

  • Where do we stand vis-à-vis reconciliation at the threshold of the third millennium?
  • Before dwelling in general epithets and maxims like “reconciliation,” “peace-making” “conviviality,” “dialogue”, and so on, are women at peace with themselves and with their immediate communities?
  • How does the church relate to women’s mental, spiritual, and physical health needs?
  • How does the environment affect the well-being of women?
  • What does it mean to reconcile with oneself and the “Other”?