From August 31st to the 8th of September, delegates and representatives from the ELCJHL were in beautiful Karlsruhe, Germany for the 11th Annual World Council of Churches. The theme of this assembly was “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity”.
In total, the ELCJHL was represented by Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, Reverend Imad Haddad, Reverend Doctor Munther Isaac, Reverend Ashraf Tannous, Reverend Rodny Said, Vicar Sally Azar, and EEC Executive Director Simon Awad. While some ELCJHL delegates were invited directly by the WCC, there were also ELCJHL representatives present at the council who were invited by partner organizations to discuss more specific aspects of their ministries in subject-specific workshops and panels. This was an important way for our representatives to share about the Palestinian Christian context, as well as learn about other contexts.
This gathering was a beautiful atmosphere, and a wonderful reminder that we have siblings in Christ in every corner of the world.
At this assembly, Bishop Azar received the high honor of being elected to serve on the Central Committee of the WCC alongside 149 others to represent the interests of the global church. This is the first time the ELCJHL has been represented in the WCC’s Central Committee.
Another particularly notable outcome of the assembly was the production of a statement entitled “Seeking Justice and Peace for all the Middle East”. This statement looks to be a promising first step in more international recognition of the situation Christian Palestinians face each day, writing, “The worldwide ecumenical fellowship has always sought to be in active solidarity with the Christians of the Middle East, who are living in continuation of an unbroken line of faithful Chrsitian witness to the multi-religious contexts of their countries, making vital contributions to the vibrant diversity and development of their society”. The statement goes on to condemn the international crimes happening in settlement expansions, the violence in Gaza, the overt and the systematic discrimination against Palestinians. The statement affirmed the December 2021 statement produced by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, which called for an answer to the pleas of international help addressing church vandalism, attacks to religious leaders, and restricted entrance of worshippers to holy sites.
The ELCJHL places hope in our Christian sisters and brothers to hear this part of our experience, and stand with us against the aforementioned challenges. We look forward to working further with the WCC office in Jerusalem in partnership.
Bishop Azar and all ELCJHL attendees of the 11th Annual Assembly of the WCC would like to thank all those who took part in organizing and facilitating this assembly, and for their warm welcome.