Global churches team aims to promote peace in Israel and Palestine

By agency reporter
10 Mar 2009

Peace-building initiatives and housing and education issues will be highlighted as an ecumenical team from around the world visits churches, faith organizations and civil society movements in Israel and Palestine from 14-21 March 2009.

Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) as part of its Living Letters initiative (http://overcomingviolence.org/iepc/living-letters-visits.html), the visit reflects the WCC’s focus on the troubled region, where it sees the ongoing presence and witness of churches as crucial in the struggle for a just peace.

The Presbyterian News Service, at the request of the WCC and in cooperation with the General Assembly Council’s World Mission and Mission Communications ministries, has commissioned communications associate Pat Cole to accompany the delegation as English-language reporter. His reports on the trip will appear on the PNS website and other news outlets around the world – including Ekklesia.

Although they are a minority in Israel and Palestine, Christians are active and visible in public life. The delegation will learn about the role of the churches in the area, including the work of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The EAPPI aims to work alongside Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent actions for peace and to carry out concerted advocacy efforts to end the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories.

The visit will include meetings with Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, human rights groups (both Palestinian and Israeli) and ecumenical organizations, as well as an exposure to the conditions of life under occupation and successful community projects in the area.

The international team will be hosted by the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre, an initiative of the Jerusalem churches in association with the Middle East Council of Churches ? the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s partner in the region ? and the WCC. The Centre is a coordination point for ecumenical action in and for Jerusalem and its churches.

The members of the ecumenical delegation are Metropolitan of Transylvania Laurentiu Streza, Romanian Orthodox Church; the Rev Emanuel Clapsis, Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, USA; Nancy Cardoso, Igreja Metodista do Brazil (Methodist Church of Brazil); Margareta Brosnan, Caritas, Australia; and Nancy Adams, Scottish Episcopal Church.

In addition to Cole, the group will be accompanied by WCC staff members Aruna Gnanadason, executive director for planning and integration; Emma Halgren, an intern in the WCC’s Office of Communication; and Interpreter Ciprian Ioan Streza, Romanian Orthodox Church.

The international ecumenical solidarity visit to Palestine/Israel is part of the WCC Living Letters (http://overcomingviolence.org/iepc/living-letters-visits.html) initiative. Living Letters are small ecumenical teams which visit countries to listen, learn, share approaches and help to confront challenges in order to overcome violence, promote and pray for peace.

Living Letters visits take place each year until 2010 in the context of the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence (http://overcomingviolence.org) in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (http://overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation/about-iepc/objectives-a nd-concepts.html) to be held in Jamaica in 2011.

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