Saturday, December 26, 2009

This message is slightly adapted from one I received from Twila Schock of ELCA Global Mission. You can help support the Lutheran schools in the Holy Land at this link:

Find out more about the schools of the ELCJHL at this link: (click on Educational Ministry).

Please take a look.

Twila writes:

Before every confirmation class, my childhood pastor would offer a prayer of thanksgiving, concluding with “And keep us ever mindful of those who go without these good gifts.” Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land also lift up prayers of thanksgiving, as they carry out their Christian educational ministry, preparing Muslim and Christian children alike for peaceful life in a challenging context.

As you consider your end-of-year giving, I invite you to remember Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land. Your gifts are needed to:
+ offer scholarship support. Most families are only able to provide 40 percent of the basic tuition fee.
+ provide computers and educational games for Al-Mahaba kindergarten pupils.
+ build a library for the Dar Al-Kalima School.
+ enhance the Nature’s Classroom program at the Beit Jala Environmental Education Center.
+ complete the chemistry, biology, and physics labs for the Beit Sahour School.

Find a letter from Bishop Munib Younan (below).

Please give now and give generously. Send checks made out to "ELCA Global Gifts" with "Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land" or "GMG0152" noted on the check's memo line to ELCA Global Mission, 8765 W Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631. See pages 18–19 of the ELCA Good Gifts catalog for suggestions related to Holy Land Schools or give online at (look under "Partner").

With thanksgiving,
The Rev. Twila Schock, Director
Global Mission Support

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From the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL)

“Let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill”
(Proverbs 1:5)

Salaam and grace to you from Jerusalem, City of Peace!

There is a big difference between learning and memorizing. Memorizing can help you pass tests and excel in trivia games. Learning—with a focus on communication, critical thinking and creativity—helps you develop skills for life. This is the holistic approach taken by the ELCJHL’s Dar al-Kalima School in Bethlehem. Dar al-Kalima (“House of the Word” in Arabic) was founded in 2000 to serve as an educational model for and to build healthy society in Palestine. For this reason, developers of Dar al-Kalima built so-called extra-curricular subjects, like sports, music and art, into the school day.

The Extra-Curricular Program (ECP), as it is called, offers a wide variety of options, from traditional subjects such as geography and chemistry to non-traditional offerings such as drama, embroidery, art, music and story-telling. Students choose their ECP schedule based on their own interests and are encouraged to value and care for their own personal development, paying equal attention to academic, physical and spiritual needs. The aim is to encourage students to be pro-active participants in the learning process, to foster self-confidence, to develop leadership skills and to prepare them for the challenges of their context. Christian values lie at the heart of this approach.

Students also have access to facilities of the Dar al-Kalima Health and Wellness Center, a fitness center and clinic located on the campus of the school. Classes in swimming, aerobics and dance are offered regularly.

To a western audience, Dar al-Kalima’s program may not sound very special. But let me assure you that, for a society that relies on the old “chalk and talk” education model and consigns its students to a fate based on his or her standardized test score, Dar al-Kalima’s approach is nothing short of revolutionary. Further, boys and girls, Muslims and Christians study together in our schools, helping them develop the skills for living in a pluralistic society such as ours.

As we begin a new school year, we are especially mindful of all our international partners, without whom we could not offer Palestinian children the opportunity to learn and become the person God has created them to be.

May you experience the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

Bishop Munib Younan

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Prayers and wishes for Advent and Christmas in Bethlehem 2009

The Arab Educational Institute, affiliated with Pax Christi International and the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches, is collecting prayers for Christmas. Here is the website:

Prayers and Wishes for Advent and Christmas in Bethlehem 2009

Pax Christi sent this memo:
For the 10th consecutive year, Christmas celebrations will take place in a difficult climate for people in the Holy Land. As we prepare to celebrate Advent and Christmas in the security of our homes and communities, let us not forget to pray for justice, peace and security for Palestine and Israel.

Sending a wish or a prayer by email is an important way of communicating with many people who long to hear a word of hope. Our partners in Bethlehem greatly appreciate receiving wishes and prayers from people outside the region, both as personal and spiritual gestures of comfort and hope on the occasion of Christmas. These messages are one way of breaking through the isolation our Bethlehem partners experience.

Please e-mail your Christmas messages and prayers for peace before the 25th of December 2009 (Western Christmas) and/or the 7th of January 2010 (Eastern Christmas). While English is the preferred language, non-native English speakers may also send wishes and prayers in their mother tongue.

Messages can be e-mailed to the Arab Educational Institute at the following address:

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More information is at this link:

To read the prayers from around the world, go to this link:

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ELCA response to Kairos Palestine now online

The Kairos Palestine document, "A Moment of Truth," is now available on the ELCA's Peace Not Walls website -

The statement is a word of hope to Palestinian Christians and a challenge for churches to work toward an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and to re-examine theologies that support the Israeli occupation.

The Palestine Kairos website is here -

The Rev. Mark Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, issued this response:

"Today the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has received with somber, yet hopeful hearts this authentic word from our brothers and sisters in the Palestinian Christian community.

" Their perspective on the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians warrants our respect and attentiveness. This appeal, from a broadly ecumenical group of theologians and church leaders, is directed above all to members of their own churches. It is primarily a word of hope in a time of overwhelming pessimism in the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict, a pessimism that could lead to despair.

"These Christian leaders’ words seek to clearly communicate both the depth of their disillusionment with current political realities and the resoluteness of their faith in God. We join with these Christians in expressing our hope that in this conflict and throughout the world, peace with justice may be realized.

"Recalling earlier Kairos documents, we join these leaders in their search for signs of hope and positive responses in the midst of a dire and seemingly intractable situation. Their hope, their affirmation of love for every person, and their nonviolent resistance to the occupation inspire us to continue to do what we can to stand with our companions and partners seeking a lasting and just peace for all in the region.

"In this Advent season, as we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promised justice and peace, we join our Christian sisters and brothers in Palestine in this hope." (Dec. 11, 2009)

Go to this link for the full text of Bishop Hanson's response:


Don't know what Kairos means? You are not alone. Wikapedia explains: "Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. (...)
The term "kairos" is used in theology to describe the qualitative form of time. In rhetoric kairos is "a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved." In the New Testament kairos means "the appointed time in the purpose of God", the time when God acts (e.g. Mark 1.15, the kairos is fulfilled)."


The Rev. Robert Smith, ELCA Europe and Middle East Desk Director, made a comments at the Kairos launch in Bethlehem. Here is an excerpt from what he said,

"We are called to revisit and challenge our theologies because theology matters. While Christians in the West often cannot see the effects of their theology in civil society and culture, this document comes from an ecumenical Christian perspective confident that their word will contribute directly to the lives of their people and the surrounding realities, unlike many western churches who sometimes seem to have lost their nerve. These Palestinian Christians are confident in their word and in God’s word to inspire hope, and to foster hopeful resistance. Many Christians in the West have become less aware of the power of Christian hope to change political realities. As a result, those political realities supported by theological systems—the baptizing of western settler/colonial imperialism and the perpetuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land perpetrated by many forms of Christian Zionism, for example—are less likely to draw a theological or church-based response. We have too often been unaware of these theologies and ignorant of how they are exported to other contexts in order to support conflict and political division."

See Smith's full statement at this link:


Here are some links to news reports:

Badil Resource Center -

Bishop David Thomson's blog (Anglican, Huntington) -

Electronic Intifada -

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bi-Partisan Letter to Secretary Clinton Supporting Higher Education Opportunities for Students from Gaza

Ask your Member of Congress to sign bi-partisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton supporting higher education opportunities for students from Gaza. This action alert comes from Churches for Middle East Peace.

See the full alert with active links at this CMEP web page:

Bi-Partisan Letter to Secretary of State Clinton Supporting Higher Education Opportunities for Students from Gaza

Ask Your Member of Congress to Sign on Today! ~ December 14, 2009 ~


Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC-4) and Congressman James Moran (D-VA-8) are collaborating on a bi-partisan letter to Secretary Clinton asking her to ensure that students from Gaza have access to higher education. The letter requests "an effective mechanism to evaluate and approve requests for Gaza residents to study in the West Bank in a timely manner."

Ask your Member of Congress to support the Inglis-Moran letter to Secretary Clinton because education is vital to prosperity, stability and peace in the region!

The recent case of Berlanty Azzam, a young Christian woman that was forcibly deported to Gaza only months before she was due to complete her degree at Bethlehem University highlights the difficult situation facing students from Gaza. The restrictions on travel between the West Bank and Gaza have meant that talented young Palestinians from Gaza are left with few opportunities to realize a better future for themselves and their society.

Contact your Representative and tell them to end the restrictions on student travel from Gaza to the West Bank because access to higher education increases the changes for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land!

Background Reading

"Deported Palestinian student can't finish studies," Lawahez Jabari, MSNBC, December 14, 2009.

Churches for Middle East Peace
Phone: 202-543-1222

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The United States, Israel and Palestine: What Does Justice Require of US? - Sabeel Conference in Seattle

Seattle Sabeel Conference Feb. 19-20: The United States, Israel and Palestine: What Does Justice Require of US?

Sabeel Conferences around the country are bringing awareness of Palestine and the Israeli occupation to new participants and encouragement to seasoned activists.

This February Seattle will host the premiere event of Sabeel - Puget Sound, "The United States, Israel and Palestine: What Does Justice Require of US?"

Sabeel - Puget Sound works with and on behalf of Palestinian Christians to promote justice through nonviolence in the Holy Land. The conference will explore the situation in Israel and Palestine today, the experience of occupation, the role of U.S. policy, and nonviolent strategies for peace.

The Sabeel conference will be Feb. 19-20 at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle (1245 Tenth Avenue East).

The keynote speaker will be the founder and leader of Sabeel, the Rev. Naim Ateek. Speaking from his own perspective as an Arab-Israeli citizen, Ateek is the respected author of books and articles including Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation and A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation.

Kathy Christison, a former CIA political analyst, is a featured presentor. Christison has worked on Middle East issues for 35 years and is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession as well as Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation, which she co-authored with her husband, Bill. The couple will make a presentation, "The U.S.-Israeli Partnership and the Impact on Palestine: Palestine Fragmented, Justice Denied."

Kathy Christon's 2008 article, "One State or Two? The Debate Over Israel and Palestine, " is available at Counterpunch:

Other speakers include Ben Gurion University's Neve Gordon, Evergreen State College's Steve Niva, and war crimes investigator Tom Nelson.

Mark Braverman, Jewish-American author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land, will focus on the future of interfaith relations and the role of religious beliefs and theology in current discourse on Israel/Palestine. Jeff Halper, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), is also slated to speak.

Co-sponsors of the event include the Palestine Concerns Task Force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Middle East Focus Group of Saint Mark's Cathedral, the Episcopal Bishop's Committee for Israel/Palestine, American Jews for a Just Peace, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims of Puget Sound, Middle East Peace Builders, and the Rauschenbusch Center for Spirit and Action.

For reservations call Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006, or online:

For more information, find us on Facebook or see the Friends of Sabeel website:

Friends of Sabeel--North America, PO Box 9186, Portland, OR 97207, email

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 2009 ELCA Middle East Network Newsletter

The Middle East Network Newsletter is out from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Read all the way to the end to find a great list of new resources at the ELCA's Peace Not Walls website: Advent meditations and new prayers and litanies, "Working for Peace" describing ways your congregation can help, and user guides suggesting forum sessions for adults and youth.

ELCA Middle East Network Newsletter
December 11, 2009

Israeli High Court Decides Against Bethlehem University Student
Bethlehem University student Berlanty Azzam will not be allowed to complete her college degree but instead must remain in Gaza according to a decision handed down by the Israeli High Court on December 9. Azzam was two months short of completing her degree when she was forcibly deported to Gaza by the Israeli military who accused her of being in the West Bank illegally. The Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, which has been pursuing the case, notes that the military "makes no claim that she poses any security threat." Many advocates worked on behalf of Azzam, including ELCA Bishop Bruce Burnside, chair of the Conference Committee on Middle East Issues, who wrote in a letter to the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, "it is with a sense of urgency that I write to ask you to do whatever you can to see that Ms. Azzam is allowed to return to Bethlehem University to complete her studies ... Clearly it is in her interest, and the interest of a peaceful future, to allow students to complete their higher education and to go on to become capable and knowledgeable members of their communities." Churches for Middle East Peace ( also advocated for Azzam. In a December 9 update relaying the news of the Israeli High Court's decision, Brother Jack Curran of Bethlehem University writes that while he had previously talked about "justice delayed," he now sums up the outcome with the words, "justice as an elusive reality." Reporting on his conversation with Berlanty he writes, "somehow - by the grace of God - she was still positive and strong - ever hopeful that 'maybe at least they will give me permission to go for Christmas. - and please, Brother, let everyone who supported me know that I really appreciate all of their help.'" For next steps, Brother Jack suggests a pause, saying, "For now, we want to take a moment to reflect and consider what to do and how to move forward." The full press release from Gisha giving details and background can be read at


3rd Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service December 19
The 3rd Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service will take place Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM Eastern Time/5:00 PM Bethlehem Time. This joint simulcast service will bring together worshipers at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., with those at the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. Participants in Washington include the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, Episcopal bishop of Washington; the Rt. Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod; the Very Rev. Samuel T.Lloyd III, dean of the Cathedral; and the Rev. Canon Stephen Huber, Cathedral vicar. In Bethlehem, participants include the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem; the Rt. Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb from Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. The service will be broadcast live at - plan now to join in person or on-line. For more information, go to


Send Prayers for Bethlehem during Advent and Christmas
From the World Council of Churches: Since December 2000, a new Christmas tradition has been taking shape: sending peace messages to people in Bethlehem. Once again, individuals, communities, churches and congregations, organisations and partners from across the world are invited to e-mail Advent and Christmas wishes and prayers for justice and peace to Bethlehem. This year, the project is being carried out in collaboration with the World Council of Churches and its Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF). Please e-mail your Christmas messages and prayers for peace before the 25th of December 2008 (Western Christmas) and/or the 7th of January 2009 (Eastern Christmas). Messages can be e-mailed to the Arab Educational Institute at the following address: For more information go to:


Nine Synod Bishops Travel to Israel and Palestine
Nine ELCA bishops traveled to Israel and the West Bank November 28 - December 8 as part of a "Bishops' Academy II" trip planned for those who were unable to participate in the first Bishops' Academy trip to the region in January of this year. The trips are an important part of the church's commitment to implement the "Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine," adopted by the ELCA in 2005. The itinerary for the Nov.-Dec. journey included a tour of a Palestinian refugee camp, worship in a synagogue, meetings with Israelis and Palestinians, and visits to ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Lutheran World Federation. For the ELCA news release on the trip, go to


National Interreligious Leadership Initiative travel to Jordan, Israel and Palestine
The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative, of which Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson is a member, will have a delegation visiting Jordan, Israel and Palestine from December 17-23. Bishop Margaret Payne of the New England Synod will participate on behalf of Bishop Hanson in the delegation that includes nine other Christian leaders, as well as three Jewish and four Muslim leaders. They plan to meet with religious and political leaders in all three locations, as well as U.S. officials, and pay a visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital.


Economic Measures in Support of Justice in the Holy Land

In 2007 at the Churchwide Assembly the ELCA passed a resolution to:

Call upon the ELCA to underscore the call for economic initiative by this church and its members in the "Peace Not Walls" Campaign. Such initiatives in consultation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land could include:
+ Purchasing products from Palestinian providers and
+ Exploration of the feasibility of refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements. Also to be explored is the entire investment activity by this church. Examination of investments would exclude the option of divestiture.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program of ELCA has been busy working through this directive with the following updates:

+ A guideline for developing a purchasing policy with a specific section on the Middle East has been developed and can be found at
+ CSR has been an active participant in a newly formed group of partners working on Middle East issues. The group, called the Ecumenical Action Group for a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine, is comprised of several full communion partners of the ELCA as well as other Protestant denominations and Catholic religious orders. All have partners on the ground in the Holy Land.
+ The Ecumenical Action Group has gathered research around thepresence of corporations in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and those involved in profiting from the occupation and has gained insights from the work of our ecumenical partners in Europe.
+ Members of the Ecumenical Action Group filed resolutions asking for:
- A report on a company's human rights policy in areas of conflict
- A new human rights policy
- A foreign military sales program policy and
- A report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary and classified information, of foreign sales of military and weapons-related products and services
+ ELCA joins with these ecumenical partners at the dialogue table with corporations talking about their presence on the settlements and how they participate in the occupation. Often discussions center on diversity of their work force. In this situation ELCA is blessed to have the stories from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land's (ELCJHL) schools and their training programs and the abundance of well trained potential employees. At other times the discussion centers on the understanding of the corporation of the facts on the ground. ELCA again is able to describe the Christian presence and our work there with medical facilities including Augusta Victoria Hospital as well as the schools.
+ This group has also followed the work of many of the peace groups in the Holy Land. We have been watching the work of "Who Profits" an on-going grassroots investigation effort by activists in The Coalition of Women for Peace, a leadingIsraeli feminist peace organization. In addition this year we have noted the Stolen Beauty campaign focusing on Ahava products (beauty products from the Dead Sea laboratories
+ This coming year a trip for this Ecumenical Action Group is planned to meet several corporations on the ground in the Holy Land to exchange views about the situation.


East Jerusalem Update a

East Jerusalem has been a particularly volatile area in recent months due to house demolitions, home evictions, the expansion of Jewish settlements and residency revocations for Palestinians. See the November update from Ir Amin, an Israeli non-profit organization which works for a shared Jerusalem: Read about residency revocations in the article, "Israel stripped thousands of Jerusalem Arabs of residency in 2008," by Nir Hasson at


Walk the Green Line

Invitation from the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI): We are beginning to get people to sign up for Walk the Green Line May 24-28, 2010. Visit the web site and make a decision to participate in this amazing experience. You can support IPCRI, make a political statement and see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and chances for peace with your own eyes.


New Peace Not Walls resources online

Advent meditations and new prayers and litanies at

Summary of Peace Not Wall implementation personnel and partners

Holy Land Youth Mission application, flier, poster, and fundraising ideas at

The following new educational resources at the updated Web page:

Working for Peace, a new two-sided color flier describing ways your congregation can engage in the Holy Land

User guides that suggest content and format for such educational sessions as a three-part adult forum, a single youth forum, a single forum on theological issues

Downloadable fliers from the ELCJHL


Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

A Palestinian Christian Call to End the Occupation

Today in Bethlehem, a historic moment of unity among Palestine's Christians. The Palestine Kairos Document echoes a call by South African theologians at a crucial moment in the struggle against apartheid. This is a critical moment for Palestine. See the website dedicated to this action:

World Council of Churches - News Release

For immediate release - 11/12/2009

A group of Palestinian Christians representing a variety of churches and church-related organizations have issued an animated and prayerful call for an end to occupation of Palestine by Israel.

The call, issued at a 11 December meeting in Bethlehem, comes at a time when many Palestinians believe they have reached a dead end. It raises questions to the international community, political leaders in the region, and the churches worldwide about their contribution to the Palestinian people's pursuit of freedom. Even in the midst of "our catastrophe" the call is described as a word of faith, hope and love.

Referred to as "The Kairos Palestine Document" the call echoes a similar summons issued by South African churches in the mid-1980s at the height of repression under the apartheid regime. That call served to galvanize churches and the wider public in a concerted effort that eventually brought the end of apartheid.

The authors of the Kairos Palestine Document, among them Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan, and Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, have raised the challenge of the urgency for peace with justice to religious and political leaders in Palestinian and the Israeli society, international community, and to "our Christian brothers and sisters in the churches" around the world. They believe that current efforts in the Middle East are confined to managing the crisis rather than finding pertinent and long term solutions to the crisis.

Decrying empty promises

Expressing their pain, the signatories of the call decry the emptiness of the promises and pronouncements about peace in the region. They remind the world about the separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, the blockade of Gaza, how Israeli settlements ravage their land, the humiliation at military checkpoints, the restrictions of religious liberty and controlled access to holy places, the plight of refugees awaiting their right of return, prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons and Israel's blatant disregard of international law, as well as the paralysis of the international community in the face of this tragedy.

Rejecting Israeli justifications for their actions as being in self-defence, they unambiguously state that if there were no occupation, "there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity."

They argue: "God created us not to engage in strife and conflict but together build up the land in love and mutual respect. Our land has a universal mission, and the promise of the land has never been a political programme, but rather the prelude to complete universal salvation. Our connectedness to this land is a natural right. It is not an ideological or a theological question only." They reject any use of the Bible to legitimize or support political options and positions that are based upon injustice.

Declaring the occupation of Palestinian land as a sin against God and humanity, they steadfastly adhere to the signs of hope such as "local centres of theology" and "numerous meetings for inter-religious dialogue", recognizing that these signs provide hope to the resistance of the occupation. Through the logic of peaceful resistance, resistance is as much a right as it is a duty as it has the potential to hasten the time of reconciliation.

Asserting that this is a moment demanding repentance for past actions, either for using hatred as an instrument of resistance or the willingness to be indifferent and absorbed by faulty theological positions, the group calls on the international community and Palestinians for steadfastness in this time of trial. "Come and see [so we can make known to you] the truth of our reality", they appeal. Poignantly, they conclude, "in the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just. We believe that God's goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land. We will see here 'a new land' and 'a new human being', capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters."

The authors are:
• Patriarch Michel Sabbah
• Bishop Dr Munib Younan
• Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna
• Rev. Dr Jamal Khader
• Rev. Dr Rafiq Khoury
• Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb
• Rev. Dr Naim Ateek
• Rev. Dr Yohana Katanacho
• Rev. Fr Fadi Diab• Dr Jiries Khoury
• Ms Sider Daibes
• Ms Nora Kort
• Ms Lucy Thaljieh
• Mr Nidal Abu Zulof
• Mr Yusef Daher
• Mr Rifat Kassis - coordinator of the initiative

Media contact in Jerusalem: Ranjan Solomon +972-54-733-7857

Full text of the Kairos Palestine Document:
In English
In Arabic
Auf Deutsch
En français

For the list of signatories:

Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace:
Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

`Moment of Truth' document to be launched Dec. 11

Palestinian Christians will launch a document entitled "Moment of Truth" which articulates the striving of Palestinians, the international community, and the churches to end the unjust Israeli occupation.

Sabeel points to this event in its weekly "Wave of Prayer." Sabeel is the Palestinian Christian liberation movement []. Its call to prayer for this week notes a number of upcoming events involving internationals in the Holy Land.

Sabeel Wave of Prayer for Dec. 10.

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches will hold its meetings in Bethlehem this weekend. In conjunction, on Friday Palestinian Christians will launch a document entitled "Moment of Truth." The document clearly articulates the responsibility of local Palestinians, the international community, and the churches to act in cooperation to end the unjust Israeli occupation.

This Tuesday, European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss a proposal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state and of Israel. We are thankful for the EU's recognition that the current situation in Jerusalem must change. We pray that a lasting peace built on justice will come to this city.

On Saturday, Sabeel young adults will visit the pediatric ward of the Lutherans’ Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mt. of Olives to spend time with children from throughout Palestine who are fighting cancer and undergoing dialysis. This holiday season, we offer special thanks for the people and organizations that cross borders and deal with complex permit restrictions in order to offer comfort and healing to the sick.

Last week, Muslim Jerusalemites held special Friday prayers in Sheikh Jarrah to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Sheikh Jarrah who are being forced from their homes by Israeli courts, the Jerusalem municipality, and Jewish settlers. Following prayers, Israeli peace activists held a march in front of the settlements. We pray that momentum for nonviolent resistance to the occupation will continue to grow, both in Palestine and Israel and around the world.

Each Thursday at noon in Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of "Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.

For more information see the website of Friends of Sabeel North America:

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Water and settlements: updates from the World Council of Churches

I'm a little behind in providing updates on news from the World Council of Churches. Here are two recent news stories related to Palestine and Israel. One deals with water rights, the other the WCC's statement on settlement expansion.

Israel Should Revoke Decision to Expand Settlement, says WCC

Churches and other ecumenical partners of the World Council of Churches (WCC) have received an appeal to "mobilize their members and the public" in resistance to Israel's approval for the construction of 900 new housing units in the Gilo settlement on traditionally Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. The WCC general secretary, the Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, called on organizations related to the Council "to act with resolve, in concert," with the intention "to reverse this decision of the Israeli government and the settlement programme it represents." In a public statement, Kobia expressed "great disappointment" at this development and emphasized that the WCC "strongly condemns the decision of the government of Israel to expand the illegal Gilo settlement as we believe that this decision will hinder attempts now in process to restart the peace negotiations."

Quoting a position adopted by the WCC Central Committee at its meeting in September 2009, Kobia warned that, "if settlements continue to expand and proliferate, they will further complicate negotiations and may destroy any chance for peace". He continued: "People of conscience and good faith around the world are looking to the government of Israel now to move toward the resolution of an interminable conflict rather than continue with decades-old policies that have driven it toward the point of no return."

Full text of the WCC general secretary's statement:

WCC solidarity with churches in the Middle East:

World Council of Churches - Feature

No Water for the Neighbours
By Miranda and Paul (*)

Rows of neat suburban houses stand on the parched, barren hillside. A water tower looms over them, irrigating lush greenery in the gardens. But outside this West Bank settlement's perimeter fence sits the tiny Bedouin community of Umm Al Kher, whose residents are desperate for water.

Here in the South Hebron Hills, there has been scarce rainfall for many months. Grey rock and dry, rugged earth spread off in every direction. But locals who met observers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel said the effects of the recent drought are exacerbating a man-made water crisis.

The community is not connected to any water supply network and the Israeli army will not issue permits to dig wells. The community is forced to buy tanked water from Mekorot, the Israeli national water company, which charges 5 shekels (around $1.30) per cubic meter. That cost prohibits the shepherds of Umm Al Kher from irrigating crops. Umm Al Kher's only other water supply is a pipe no bigger than a garden hose that trails across from the pump in the settlement.

"Sometimes they turn the water off for days at a time," one resident of Umm Al Kher told Miranda, an Ecumenical Accompanier from Britain. "We have enough water for drinking and washing but no water for agriculture."

Ecumenical Accompaniers, who are sent by the World Council of Churches to provide protective presence and human rights monitoring throughout the West Bank, regularly visit the villages of the South Hebron hills. These isolated communities struggle with the combined challenges of land confiscation and violence by Israeli settlers on the one hand and movement and building restrictions imposed by the Israeli military on the other.

Amnesty International recently completed an investigation into Israel's water policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It revealed a host of measures that prevent Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza from obtaining adequate water. Demolitions of storage facilities and denial of access to aquifers, along with bans on digging wells, mean that up to 200,000 Palestinians in rural communities have no access to running water at all.

Israeli settlers, meanwhile, face no such challenges. With their intensive irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools, they consume on average around 300 litres each per day. Average Palestinian consumption is around a quarter of that, and well short of the 100 litres minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. In some cases Palestinians survive on as little as 20 litres a day, usually brought in by tanker. For communities that rely on agriculture for a living, the lack of water is critical.

No water for farms, no passage for shepherds

These problems are exacerbating the impact of a long-running drought. Bedouins coping with dry spells in the past would have moved around in search of good pasture. But these days, much of the best grazing land is off limits, confiscated by the Israeli settlements that are spreading inexorably across the landscape.

Palestinian shepherds are tied down by movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and the threat of violence from Israeli settlers which bars them from grazing in certain areas. Armed youths from the settlement regularly threaten the village itself. Recently, they broke through the barrier fence to steal the Bedouins' few scrawny chickens. There is also frequent abuse and stone throwing.

Salim, a shepherd from Umm Al Kher, says that complaining about water problems ignores the root cause. In order to improve the water situation, Umm Al Kher needs to build pipes, but the village is in an area where the Israeli authorities refuse to grant building permits to Palestinians.

As recently as October, the Israeli authorities told international non-governmental development organizations that they are breaking the law if they build in the village. The Oslo Accords of 1994 placed the village in "Area C," meaning it is under full Israeli military and civilian control. The Israeli authorities do not grant permits to Palestinians in Area C, so although the residents have papers proving they own the land, they cannot build on it.

The frustration this creates is palpable within the village. The residents live underneath electricity wires that run from the settlement to a nearby chicken factory also belonging to the settlers. But Umm Al Kher's residents are not connected to the electricity network. And even though they have papers proving they own this patch of land, every structure the Bedouins have built here since 1967 has a demolition order hanging over it, including the tents. Several buildings have already been destroyed - including a toilet block.

Eid, the son of a village elder, was defiant. "Every time they destroy our buildings, we will build them again. This is our land," he said.

His determination does not hide the fact that Umm Al Kher is in a precarious spot. Winter rains may make these hills green pastures for a few months, but the long term future of Bedouin communities like Umm Al Kher hangs in the balance.

(*) Miranda and Paul are members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel -

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Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace

WCC member churches in Palestine and Israel:

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was launched in August 2002. Ecumenical accompaniers monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation. The programme is coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Opinions expressed in WCC Features do not necessarily reflect WCC policy. This material may be reprinted freely, providing credit is given to the author.

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

World Council of Churches - News Release
Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

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To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, go the the blog: A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bethlehem Prayer Service will be webcast from the National Cathedral Dec. 19

Third Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service webcast live from the National Cathedral

Join worshippers at Washington, D.C., or gather with others online to watch the service broadcast live on the internet:

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Third Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service
Saturday, December 19, 2009
9:30 AM Gathering, 10:00 AM Service (All times are Eastern Standard Time.)

A joint simulcast service with the people of Bethlehem at the Bethlehem Chapel of the Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Are you in the DC area? Then you are invited to join worshipers in the Bethlehem Chapel. If you are elsewhere, we encourage to you gather with others in your own community to watch the service by internet as it is broadcast live at

In Bethlehem, behind the wall that separates neighbor from neighbor, patient from hospital, student from school and farmer from land, Palestinian Christians continue to bear witness to their faith this Christmas, as they have done for generations. Once again, let us join our voices with theirs in seeking and offering hope for a better future.

Prayers, readings, and hymns will alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In Bethlehem, participants include the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem; the Rt. Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb from Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.

Participants in Washington include the Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, Episcopal bishop of Washington; the Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod; and the Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of the Cathedral.

Sponsored by:
Ad Hoc Committee for Bethlehem
Bright Stars of Bethlehem
Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation
Sharing Jerusalem
Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace (WIAMEP)

For updated information about the service, go to

Bright Stars of Bethlehem (BSB) is a US 501(c)3 organization founded in 2003 to promote and spread the word about the many outreach ministries of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem to build hope and a brighter future for Palestine. Bright Stars provides funding and support to local initiatives serving the educational, medical, professional and spiritual development needs of people living in Christ's birthplace.

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To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, go the the blog: A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace,