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Advent in the Middle East Disciples’ Regional Ministers visit to Lebanon, Syria, and Israel/Palestine Nov. 30 -Dec. 10, 2010
• Established in 1932 • 22 students Regional Ministers at NEST President Dr. Mary Mikhael
Middle East Council of Churches’ Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees DSPR works in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut, where large numbers of refugees were massacred during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Middle East Council of Churches’ Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees Works in five areas: • West Bank • Gaza • Lebanon • Jordan • Nazareth
Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue: An interfaith and regional grass roots organization FDCD programs focus on: • Conflict Resolution • Youth • Empowerment • Journalism
Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue: An interfaith and regional grass roots organization Iraqi refugee program: Iraqis receive relief packages at the Chaldean Church in Beirut.
Regional Ministers heard from a Protestant and Catholic, a Druze, and a Shi’ite during a meeting with Arab Group members, pictured above. Downtown Beirut’s mix of Muslim and Christian heritage illustrate the country’s unique interfaith context.
Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East Established over 150 years ago, the Union comprises congregations in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Egypt, and Australia
In Syria, we were hosted by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. The Greek Orthodox Community is the largest Christian church in Syria. Its Patriarch is H. B. Ignatius Hazim (right, center). Mr. Samer Laham is its Ecumenical Officer (below, center).
Armenians in Syria are numerous, partly due to mass migration in the early 20 th century. Bishop Armash Nalbandian welcomed our group to the Bishopric of Damascus.
The Greek Melchite Bishop, HB Gregorius Laham, spoke with us on many subjects, emphasizing the ecumenical imperative. The Bishopric is in classic Old Damascus style, with a courtyard and fountain.
The Syrian Orthodox community in Syria is significant in size and presence. It retains ancient Aramaic/Syriac as its language of liturgy. The Patriarch, HB Zakka I Iwas, welcomed the Regional Ministers to the Patriarchate, which was readying itself for Christmas celebrations!
The Street Called Straight (right), Ananias’ home (below, right), and the Hamadiyya Bazaar in the Old City of Damascus.
The Iraqi Christian Youth Committee met in Damascus and told of some of the issues Iraqi youth face on a daily basis.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims consider the places of Israel/Palestine—and especially of Jerusalem—of sacred significance.
During an “alternative” tour of Jerusalem, our group got a better sense of Jerusalem settlements, home demolitions, and the separation barrier’s impact on Palestinian lives.
Complexities and various perspectives of the Israeli. Palestinian conflict were explained by Rabbi Ed Rettig (American Jewish Committee— Jerusalem Office head, upper left), Dr. Bernard Sabella (Executive Director, MECCDSPR, upper right, center), and by Uri Zaki and Risa Zoll (B’Tselem—The Israeli Main issues in Israel/Palestine: Boundaries, Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Settlements, Refugees, Jerusalem, Demography, Territories, left). Security, Resources (including water)
Christians Today –Demography • In Israel Areas occupied 1948 150, 000 Christians Among 7 million Just over 2% In Palestine Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem 50, 000 Christians Among 4 million Below 2% ► Currently, they are between 400, 000 – 500, 000 scattered throughout the World Source: WCC Jerusalem Interchurch Center
The Separation Barrier
Bethlehem Christians tell us about their hopes and dreams, and their frustrations.
The YWCA in Palestine works with women and children in the Jalazoun Refugee Camp, north of Ramallah. Jean Zaru (above) is the clerk of the Friends Meeting in Ramallah.
Hearing the stories of Global Ministries’ partners in Jerusalem: Rawdat el-Zuhur primary school, our Child Sponsorship partner, and the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation
The manger grotto in the Church of the Nativity (left) and the spire of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem (right).
Future generations’ hopes and dreams—for Jews, Christians, and Muslims of the Middle East— depend on peace with justice. As we approach Lent, “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and the whole region. Trip blog (with pictures): http: //bagmrmep. blogspot. com/