PHOTOS: Women’s Ministry Celebrates Mother’s Day

BEIT JALA – The Women’s Ministry of the ELCJHL gathered at Abraham’s Herberge on Friday, March 20th, 2015 to celebrate Mother’s Day together.  The women listened to a lecture by Dr. Tawfiq Salman on communication in the family, as well as singing songs and praying together.  During the service, the women say good bye and thank you to Mrs. Bassimah Jaraiseh for her six years of work with the Women’s Ministry.  After the service and lecture, the women had a meal together to celebrate.

Happy Mother’s Day from the women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land!

ELCJHL Synod Adopts Gender Justice Policy

The ELCJHL Synod looks over their revised Constitution before it was put to a vote. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)
The ELCJHL Synod looks over their revised Constitution before it was put to a vote. (© D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

BEIT JALA – On Friday, February 27th, 2015, the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land voted to adopt a Constitution for their Ecclesiastical Court – a court that was given authority to deal in family matters starting on January 1st, 2015 by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – based in gender equality.   The Constitution voted on by the Synod accepted equality in family life, including equal inheritance between male and female members in a family.  The prevailing constitutions for Ecclesiastical Courts often give women 1/8th of the inheritance of men.  Through the good work of the Women’s Desk of the ELCJHL and the entirety of the ELCJHL in regards to women’s issues and gender equality, the Lutheran Church has adopted the gender justice policy – the only Constitution of its kind in the Middle East.

PHOTOS: The Annual Women’s Gathering in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM –  Every year, the women of the churches in the West Bank and Jerusalem joined together to celebrate Advent and Christmas together. This year, the event took place at Dar Annadwa (ICB) | دار الندوة الدولية in Bethlehem.  The theme of the year was “Mary” – not just Mary, Mother of God, but all of the Mary’s present in the life of Jesus.  General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Martin Junge, joined the celebration and addressed the women.  Thank you to all who turned out and who made this such a wonderful event!



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.

2013 Women’s Retreat Takes Place in Tiberias

Participants listen to a lecture on repressed memories.
Some of the retreat participants pose for a photo by the Sea of Galilee.
Some of the retreat participants pose for a photo by the Sea of Galilee. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

Over 90 women from five of the six ELCJHL congregations took place in a retreat on meditation and music therapy over three days in July near the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias.  Organized by Mrs. Bassimah Jaraiseh, Women’s Work Facilitator and led by Suad Younan, the Chairperson of the Women’s Desk of the ELCJHL, the retreat focused on repressed emotions and how to deal honestly with the self and with others.

Continue reading “2013 Women’s Retreat Takes Place in Tiberias”

A Response to Violence Against Women in India from the Women’s Desk

JERUSALEM – On hearing the sad news of the brutal rape and subsequent death of the young woman in India on December 16th, the Women’s Desk of the ELCJHL wrote a response to the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India.  The full response is printed below:

Dear Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar,

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) received with sadness, condemnation and resentment the news of the brutal assault and rape of the young woman on the 16thof December in New Delhi, India, and is watching with concern the fallout of the events that followed this criminal and inhumane incident. The ELCJHL Bishop, pastors, women, and people of the congregations of the Lutheran Church and greater Christian community in Jordan and the Holy Land stand with the people of the world who are now learning of this growing situation and demand that the government of India take seriously the ramifications of this issue and are also concerned with the indifference everywhere prevailing when dealing with such acts, which is also experienced by many women around the world today and for which sometimes they have to pay with their very lives. We sympathize and support women in India and join our voices to wipe out this scourge. The (ELCJHL) as a whole and the ELCJHL Women’s Desk in particular are seriously concerned and severely condemn these acts of violence against women in India and all over the world.

Church of Norway Presiding Bishop and Delegation Visit Jerusalem

Bishop Younan visits with Church of Norway Delegation, including Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, during their visit to the Middle East.

JERUSALEM, 20 March 2012 (ELCJHL)– A High-level delegation from the Church of Norway, including Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien and Church Council President Mr. Svein-Arne Lindø, visited yesterday with Bishop Munib Younan and ELCJHL Women’s Work Facilitator Mrs. Bassimah Jaraiseh.

Bishop Younan met with the delegation to discuss the present and ongoing mission and ministry of the ELCJHL. Younan highlighted in particular the importance of the educational ministries of the ELCJHL, including the four ELCJHL k-12 Schools who annually educate more than 3,000 students.

Younan focused on the co-educational inter-religious educational environment offered to students in the ELCJHL Schools. Of the ELCJHL’s student enrollment, nearly half of its students are Muslim. The other half of student enrollment represent almost all thirteen church bodies present in the area. Five percent of ELCJHL students are Lutheran.

“Our goal,” Younan said, “is to raise up our Muslim students to be constructive, effective and moderate Muslims; to raise up our Christian students to be constructive, effective and moderate Christians; all together with our Lutheran students in a Lutheran spirit that uplifts equal education and opportunities for its students, regardless of gender, race, or religion.”

Within an area of the world in which religious extremism that sets one religion against another is on the rise, Younan spoke of the ELCJHL’s focus on breaking down barriers, eradicating stereotypes, and raising up students to know and respect one another, finding the common values of love of God and love of neighbor that resonate throughout the Abrahamic religions.

Younan continued, “We are proud to be raising up new leaders who will work with one another for justice, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness in mosques and churches, in schools and workplaces.”

The ELCJHL has a long history of service in education that is designed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people as a whole, through holistic education that develops each student, and works to support a society in which justice, peace, co-existence, and mutual respect can thrive.

Amidst the continued unresolved political situation, the economic effects often reach children first, and their education along with it. The ELCJHL has doubled its local tuition contributions in the last decade, and continues to strive to become financially self-sustaining. But, until the surrounding situation changes, the scholarship support afforded by church organizations, such as the Church of Norway, along with individual scholarship support, is instrumental in sustaining the ELCJHL educational mission.

The Church of Norway and the ELCJHL are long-time partners in mission and diakonia. In recent years, the Church of Norway has been instrumental in funding the ongoing work of the women of the ELCJHL.

It is the goal of the Women of the ELCJHL to raise awareness about contemporary societal issues and the rights of women, to strengthen the social and psychological network among women, and to empower women in church and society to bring about changes in society to positively impact present and future generations.

The delegation from the Church of Norway also included Rev. Jens-Petter Johnsen, Director of Church Council; Rev. Kjetil Aano, Chairman of Council of Ecumenical and International Relations; Mrs. Berit Hagen Agøy, General Secretary of Council of Ecumenical and International Relations; Rev Dr Trond Bakkevig, Convener of Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land; Dr Dr Iver B. Neumann, Professor and research director at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs; Mr. Jan Erik Sundby, Representative of Borg diocese; Rev Dr Anne Hege Grung, Research fellow, University of Oslo; Mrs Gudrun Bertinussen, Norwegian Church Aid representative to the Middle East; and Mr. Sven Thore Kloster, Advisor on interreligious relations, Council of Ecumenical and International Relations.

The Church of Norway delegation visited Jerusalem as part of their current Middle East tour, which will also include visits in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.


View more photos from the Church of Norway delegation visit.

Interdenominational Women’s Gathering in Amman

Mrs. Suad Younan (left) leads the gathered women in prayer and song.

AMMAN, JORDAN/JERUSALEM, 13 December 2011 – More than eighty women from the different Christian denominations in Amman, Jordan gathered together on 2 December in the church hall of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd for an Advent celebration.

The theme for the afternoon was the integral importance of the Arab Christian existence, witness, and service in the Arab society, and the need for strong and wise leaders in the everyday life and work of the local churches.

Rev. Samer Azar, the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman, Jordan began the afternoon with a word of welcome, followed by a shared Advent meal.

After lunch, Mrs. Suad Younan offered words of greeting and welcome to the sisters from the different churches.

Bishop Younan was then invited to preach as the speaker for the event, and began with a reading from Matthew 25:1-13. Reflecting back on the wise women of the parable, Younan stressed the importance of the wise women present in the local churches, and especially in the local Lutheran church. “We often speak of gender equality,” Younan said, “but we still have work to do. Women should have full equality not only in society, but also in the church.”

“Evangelism teaches us always to look forward to where our faith is leading us and to what God is calling us both in church and in society,” Younan continued, and drawing back in the witness of the wise women, Younan spoke of the January 2010 decision unanimously reached in the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) in favor of Women’s Ordination, and the ELCJHL’s commitment to seeing Women’s Ordination come to fruition in the Middle East.

“When God calls a person to serve in the church it is not under the condition of being a man. Women have carried the message of the Gospel from the very beginning of the church. Therefore, we, the ELCJHL, fully support the Ordination of women in the church, and are called to support and encourage women who feel called to carry and to serve the Gospel in this way.”

After Bishop Younan’s words, the afternoon’s gathering concluded with an evening of shared Advent hymns, meditations, and time for contemplation.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Congregational Women’s Leaders Meet To Discuss Effective Leadership

JERUSALEM, 21 November 2011 – In early November the congregational women’s leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) met to discuss the characteristics and duties of effective leadership.

They gathered together with their children for the two-day retreat in Haifa on 7-8 November, spending time together in prayer, discussion, and planning. As the congregational women’s leadership in the ELCJHL is traditionally made up of the wives of the pastors, the women also discussed new ways of sharing and equipping other women for leadership.

The women also enjoyed the opportunity to visit the cities of El-Naqoura and Akka during their retreat.

The women also began preparations for the upcoming ELCJHL Women’s Advent programs. Because of the ongoing situation, it is very difficult for women from all six ELCJHL congregations to meet together, and so one Women’s Advent program is being planned for Palestinian Lutheran women in Bethlehem on December 16th, and a second Women’s Advent program for Jordanian Lutheran women in Amman, Jordan on December 2nd.

Women of the ELCJHL Gather Together for Advent

The Women of the ELCJHL gathered together for Advent with conversation over lunch, time for study and reflection, with singing and with prayer. (©ELCJHL/E.McHan)

JERUSALEM, December 13, 2010 – On Saturday, December 11, the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) came together for an Advent gathering. Forty-five women, representing ELCJHL congregations in Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, were able to attend.

The afternoon began with conversation over lunch at the Knight’s Palace Hotel in the Old City of Jerusalem, followed by a time of study and reflection on Elizabeth and Mary–strong and faithful witnesses.

Suad Younan walked with the women through the first chapter of Luke, focusing on the dialogues between the angel Gabriel and Zechariah, between Elizabeth and Mary, and surrounding the naming of John.

Bishop Younan spoke of Elizabeth’s patience and trust in God in the midst of her barrenness, and lifted her up with the saints as a witness to the gospel in the world. Not only for her time, but for our time. Bishop Younan called those present to live in Elizabeth’s patience and to cling to our common evangelical witness.

The meeting closed in candlelight with singing and with prayer.

Bishop Younan sent special greetings to the women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman, Jordan, who were unable to participate in the gathering, and expressed his hope that all of the congregations would be able participate as one in the future.

Walk with the ELCJHL and the Church of Sweden this Advent!

2010 Advent Calendar

Click on the image to visit the Advent Calendar and walk with us this season!

The ELCJHL, together with the Church of Sweden, invites you to walk with them this Advent. Their online Advent Calendar, “Fear builds walls – Hope builds bridges” includes daily Advent “You-Tube” greetings from young people in Palestine and Sweden

In their own words:

“This is an Advent calendar about hope and future. Young persons in Bethlehem, Palestine, and Vasteras, Sweden, tell about their daily life, their dreams and thoughts.

The whole idea came up last year when a Palestinian pastor told a group of Swedish visitors about his work among youth. He told that when you grow up behind a wall, the most important is to be able to see the ”windows” in the Wall. To see possibilities, to try to understand the fear that builds walls and to realize that you have friends on the other side of the wall. That is the only way to tear down walls. The only way to build peace.

For those who listened the idea started to grow, let us make an Advent Calendar where we try to make windows in the wall that surrounds Bethlehem. To show that we want that wall to be torn down, but also to show that all walls between people can be torn down. It is the story of love and reconciliation by telling others your story. Just to show that we all are equal.

In this calendar you meet young people from Palestine and Sweden. They all have their rights to dream about a good future. This is also the message of Advent, we wait for a better world to come!”

The calendar is produced in cooperation between the Diocese of Vasteras, Church of Sweden, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy land, ELCJHL, Bethlehem Media Centre of the ICB at Bethlehem and John Bauergymnasiet in Vasteras.