Thursday, April 24, 2014

A look back at Evangelicals' meeting at the checkpoint

People certainly got riled up over this year's Christ at the Checkpoint conference.

Christ at the Checkpoint: Call to Action
Under the title "Your Kingdom Come" over six hundred followers of Christ representing more than twenty nationalities met at the third biennial "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference in Bethlehem from the 10th to the 14th of March 2014 to pray, worship, learn and discuss together the responsibility and role of the church in helping resolve the conflict and bringing peace, justice and equality to the Holy Land through following the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God. 
   Participants were urged to sign on to the "Checkpoint Manifesto." 
Click to read the full Call to Action
   The conference got the attention of Dale Coulter who wrote the article below for First Things magazine.

Why Evangelical Support for Israel is Waning - and How it can Find a Firmer Foundation
     First Things published this article this month.  "The recent Christ at the Checkpoint Conference has a number of evangelical groups concerned about waning support for the nation of Israel among Evangelicals (see Religion News Service and Juicy Ecumenism). David Brog of Christians United for Israel even wonders whether the end of evangelical support for Israel has come .
     "While there is no doubt a push for greater recognition of Palestinian Christians among certain evangelical groups, a key issue that has yet to be addressed is the role of dispensationalism and its view of the End. When John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, is a prominent advocate of a rapture theology, one can be sure dispensationalism is in the background. There is a theological issue at stake in this debate, and Evangelicals who want greater support for Israel ignore it at their peril."
Read the full article here.

Thanks to Kate Taber who wrote a very good piece on the same conference for The Presbyterian Outlook: Evangelicals ask, "What would Jesus do at the Checkpoint?"   
    Kate writes: "Conference participants were also given a glimpse of what daily life is like for Palestinians under military occupation. They had the opportunity to visit the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, a fifteen-minute walk from the conference venue, where an estimated 2,500 Palestinian workers pass every day, many arriving in the middle of the night to take their place in line and await the 5 a.m. opening time in order to reach their jobs in Israel, often just a few miles away in Jerusalem. These workers are the coveted few who receive permits, and even they are not allowed to drive their cars to work, instead having to wait unpredictable lengths of time at the checkpoint while they risk losing their day jobs if they are late. Conference participants also toured East Jerusalem, annexed to Israel in 1967, and Hebron, occupied by Israel in 1967. In Jerusalem, participants learned how difficult it is to maintain Jerusalem residency as a Palestinian, as they face a severe lack of municipal services, the invasion of Israeli settlements in the middle of their neighborhoods, frequent child arrests, lack of building permits and ongoing home demolitions, the inability to be united with family members or spouses who do not have Jerusalem residency, and the continuous need to prove their center of life is in Jerusalem, from their taxes to school attendance to workplace. In Hebron, participants learned about the consequences local Palestinians face due to the Israeli settlement in the middle of the old city, restricting their travel, making their main business district a ghost town and subjecting both children and adults to harassment and physical attacks from ideological settlers. Participants were also invited to join in a Catholic mass that takes place weekly as a form of nonviolent protest against the threat posed by the Israeli separation barrier to divide the Cremisan monastery and its olive groves from the rest of West Bank town Beit Jala."  Please read the full article at this link.

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