The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land (ELCJHL)
caters to visitors and pilgrims to the Holy Land from throughout the world. The roots of the ELCJHL are in the mid-19th century when German and English missionaries came to teach and minister to the local people. Today, they have five congregations in Jerusalem, Ramallah and the Bethlehem area and one in Amman, Jordan. The churches in Amman and Ramallah are made up largely of families of Arabic ethnicity and are in friendship with the Islamic Christian Society .
Palestinian Christians declare the ‘kairos’ time is now: Palestinian Christian leaders gathered in Bethlehem to launch “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering.” The so-called Palestinian Kairos document is a statement of reality and hope from a broad coalition of Christian leaders in Palestine. ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan and the 12 other Patriarchs and Heads of Local Christian Churches in Jerusalem; Rev. Saliba Rishmawi is pastor of the ELCJHL Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah, West Bank and Bishop Martin Lind of the Diocese of Linköping, Church of Sweden plus many clergy, ELCJHL members and friends, as well as local dignitaries, attended the festive event.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Bishop Munib Younan posed for a photo after sharing an iftar meal in Ramallah. Carter was in the region with The Elders, an independent group of eminent global leaders seeking to use their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.
It has been both the challenge and the hope for this conference that common words would lead to common deeds. There are stories of where particular Muslims and Christians are deepening their understanding of one another in dialogue that leads to engagement in their communities. The discussion was an extension of a 2007 document, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” from 138 Muslim scholars to Christian leaders, calling for Christians and Muslims to work together for peace. It declared that the world’s future depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.
The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land regrets that the holy sites in Jerusalem continue to be exploited for conflict in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The Council reaffirms its commitment to advancing respect between religious communities in Jerusalem, the protection of each community’s holy sites and their sensitivities.
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, ELCJHL pastor of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, was in the United States speaking at a host of venues about conditions in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Raheb was scheduled to speak at several Minnesota churches, as well as at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College, an ELCA college in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Norwegian bishops and officials joined Bishop Munib A. Younan on a tour of the Haram es-Sharif (“Noble Sanctuary”) in Jerusalem’s Old City. They visited the Al-Aqsa (“Farthest”) Mosque for a group photo. The bishops visited sites in Jordan, Israel and Palestine during their trip to the Holy Land. It included visits with Dr. Rafiq Husseini, Chief of Staff Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and with Nasser A. Lozi, chief of the Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan’s King Abdullah.
ELCJHL, and the Church of Scotland affirm, formalize partnership Churches cooperate, in order to strengthen evangelical Christian witness, not their institutions. Their interdependence as churches is a source of strength. This was the message of ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan gave at the March 24, 2010, partnership service. Younan and the Rt. Rev. William Hewitt, moderator of the Church of Scotland, also signed an agreement formalizing the relationship between the ELCJHL and the Church of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Church in West Jerusalem ELCJHL Rev. Ibrahim Azar, Bishop Younan and Rev. Hewitt, Rev. George Shand, minister of St. Andrew’s, witnessed the signing of the document.
The Mount of Olives Housing Project will provide 84 housing units to be built on land owned by the Lutheran World Federation. These housing units will be leased to Christian couples and families at subsidized rates. When completed, this project will not only offer hope to many Christian Palestinian families, but will also be a visible reminder to everyone in Jerusalem that there is hope for a lasting peace. Since 1946, the Christian population in Jerusalem has decreased from 30,000 to less than 10,000. In a few decades, if the housing shortage and other difficulties continue, there might not be Palestinian Christians living in the Holy City. The Mount of Olives Housing Project is dedicated to providing affordable apartments to Palestinian Christians. We believe an empowered Christian minority will be important in building a modern and democratic Palestinian society and state, strengthening Jerusalem as a city of peace shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. This appears to mean that housing is acceptable in Jerusalem as long as it is not for Jews.
The question arises as to why Jerusalem is revered as a Holy City, in what era and when that accolade came about?
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