Monday, October 3, 2011

Lutheran news: new and old

I missed a news story from the ELCA news service last week.  Scroll down past recent news for a story from last spring.

September 23, 2011
ELCA Bishop extends support for Lutherans In Jordan, Holy Land

CHICAGO (ELCA) - The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Mark S. Hanson, sent a letter on Sept.  22 to Bishop Munib Younan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), expressing the support of this church for a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

             Hanson drafted the letter in response to growing tensions in the Middle East as Palestine submitted a formal proposal for full membership in the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council is expected to consider the request next week.

      “As leaders of government debate Palestinian membership in the United Nations, we want you to know of our continued commitment to accompany you on the road to a just two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Hanson wrote. He noted the ELCA’s commitment runs deeper than national interest and reflects “active engagement in Palestine and Israel as it is articulated in the ELCA Peace Not Walls Campaign.”

      Earlier in the week Hanson wrote to President Barack Obama, asking the United States not to block an initiative to admit Palestine as a member state of the United Nations. Such a move, the bishop observed, would be acting not only in the best interests of the United States, but of all people in the region.

      Outbreaks of violence have been escalating in the region, especially around security checkpoints, which have raised concerns about the 14 ELCA church workers currently supporting the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Robert O. Smith, area program director for the Middle East and North Africa, and coordinator of the Peace Not Walls campaign, reported that the ELCA has been involved in security and contingency planning for several weeks.

      “We are concerned not only for the safety and security of our ELCA church workers, but for the well-being of our companions in the ELCJHL and all persons who may be caught in potentially dangerous situations,” Smith said. “Our Young Adults in Global Mission are especially concerned for the safety and security of the Muslim and Christian children they accompany every day in the schools.”

      Of the 14 ELCA church workers serving in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, five have long-term assignments, six are Young Adults in Global Mission and three are with The Lutheran World Federation program in Jerusalem.

      The ELCJHL and the ELCA are members of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion with 145 member churches in 79 countries representing over 70 million Lutherans.

      “At such a time it is important to reach out to sisters and brothers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land,” said Hanson. “For the unity we share in Christ is stronger than all the forces that might divide us. That unity calls for our public witness as we join with other Christians, Jews and Muslims advocating for a lasting and just two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. It compels us to reject violence by any party to the conflict.”

      The presiding bishop said, “It is my hope that ELCA members are praying for peace even as they deepen their awareness of the issues and advocate for a peaceful and just resolution. We join with Muslims, Jews and other Christians trusting it is God's will to hold heaven and earth in a single peace.”
ELCA Peace Not Walls -

ELCA Israel and Palestine advocacy -

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And, looking for resources on another subject I came across this great article in last May's edition of The Lutheran magazine:

Green is a color for hope
Lutheran center grows environmental awareness among Palestinians

Riad Abu Saadah holds a small yellow-green bird in his hand. Sitting in a circle around him, schoolchildren from around Beit Jala, Palestine, crane their necks to see it.

A bird is never just a bird; "there is a name for every bird," he said, gently cradling the green finch. "This is a sifri."

The children have come to the Evangelical Lutheran Church Environmental Education Center in Beit Jala to learn about Palestinian natural heritage. Situated on the rolling green hills of the Talitha Kumi Lutheran School, the center is an oasis of green. Its pine trees and local plants are a welcome respite from what most of the children encounter daily — a crowded urban environment of cement, asphalt, roadside pollution and checkpoints.

(...) Launched in 1986 under a different name (Education for Awareness and Involvement), the center began as a joint effort of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and Birzeit University to include care for creation in the Lutheran school curriculum.

Read the whole article at this link.

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