Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Recommended Congregational Actions for Peace - August 30-31, 2014

We will be continuing Advocacy recommendations through September.

This week we continue our recommendations for Metropolitan Chicago Synod congregations.

PRAY - As Israel and Palestine seek to bring a halt to the violence in Gaza, please offer prayers for all of us to search our hearts: what is our role in being peacemakers? how do we contribute, through sins of commission and omission, to the perpetuation of the conflict there?

LEARN - Turn to the recent lectionary reading from Psalm 124 ("If the Lord had not been on our side / let Israel say / if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us . . . ."). Use BibleStudyTools.com or other learning resources to explore the distinction between historical Israel and 21st century political Israel. Think about what Psalm 124 suggests to us about "whose side God is on" in the current conflict in Israel/Palestine, and other conflicts taking place in the world.

ACT - As our thoughts turn to the start of a new academic year and the academic plans of the young people in our communities, MCS congregations are encouraged to look at the description of the Metro Chicago Young Adult Holy Land Trip 2015, and to think about encouraging someone from your congregation to participate: online at bit.ly/HolyLand2015 . Your support of this program can help plant the seeds for a peaceful future!
Rev. Joanne Fitzgerald, WGME Convener

Adult Education: Learn More About the Middle East During 2014-15

The Working Group on the Middle East is encouraging Metropolitan Chicago Synod congregations as they do their education and faith formation planning for 2014-15 to include at least one book study about the Middle East.

There is a tremendous array of materials to choose from. Below are four representative possibilities.

We will be gathering information about what various congregations are planning, and sharing that information via this website, to encourage resource-sharing and networking.

If you have information about your plans, or would like assistance, please email Joe Scarry - jtscarry [at] yahoo.com

Resource recommendations

Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes - "In this concise work that blends both academic and pastoral understandings, Raheb shows how the history of Palestine, ancient and modern, is one of diverse and unique contexts and yet recurring patterns. Raheb spells out Jesus' gospel in relation to the Roman empire of his time, and the biblical values relevant for the Middle East—then and now. This approach sheds a new light on the biblical texts within the context of imperial domination, and it introduces a new perspective and culture for a 'New Middle East.' . . . Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb is the President of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, President of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem, and President of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He is also the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is the author of several books including I Am a Palestinian Christian and Bethlehem Besieged."

This book was the subject by a book group sponsored by several Evanston and Wilmette congregations in the past few months.  One of our WGME members was a part of the book group and recommends the book highly.

Watch Mitri Raheb discuss Faith in the Face of Empire on Youtube.

Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide - "What role have Zionism and Christian Zionism played in shaping attitudes and driving historical developments in the Middle East and around the world? How do Christians, Jews, and Muslims understand the competing claims to the land of Palestine and Israel? What steps can be taken to bring peace, reconciliation, and justice to the homeland that Palestinians and Israelis share? . . . Zionism Unsettled embraces these critical issues fearlessly and with inspiring scope. The booklet and companion DVD draw together compelling and diverse viewpoints from Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel, Palestine, the US, and around the globe. By contrasting mainstream perceptions with important alternative perspectives frequently ignored in the media, Zionism Unsettled is an invaluable guide to deeper understanding."

Zionism Unsettled raises difficult issues and has resulted in controversy. See, for instance, "Presbyterians remove controversial ‘Zionism Unsettled’ from denomination’s website".

Rabbi Brant Rosen, Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity - "In 2006 Rabbi Brant Rosen, who serves a Jewish Reconstructionist congregation in Evanston, Illinois, launched a blog called Shalom Rav, in which he explored a broad range of social-justice issues. The focus of his writing-and his activism-changed dramatically in December 2008, when Israel launched a wide, 23-day military attack against Gaza, causing him to deeply question his lifelong liberal Zionism. Unlike the biblical Jacob, who wrestled in the dark of night at a crucial turning point in his life, Rabbi Rosen chose to make his struggle public: to wrestle in the daylight. Over the two years that followed, Shalom Rav became a public and always highly readable record of his journey from liberal Zionist to active and visionary Palestinian solidarity activist. Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity is Rosen's self-curated compilation of these blog posts. . . . In his Preface, Rabbi Rosen writes, 'I've come to believe that too many of us have been wrestling in the dark on this issue for far too long. I believe we simply must find a way to widen the limits of public discourse on Israel/Palestine, no matter how painful the prospect. It is my fervent hope that the conversations presented here might represent, in their small way, a step toward the light of day.'"

Read about the book event with Rabbi Rosen sponsored by WGME in February, 2014. (Great video!)

Noam Chayut, The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust  - a "deeply moving memoir of Chayut’s journey from eager Zionist conscript on the front line of Operation Defensive Shield to leading campaigner against the Israeli occupation. As he attempts to make sense of his own life as well as his place within the wider conflict around him, he slowly starts to question his soldier’s calling, Israel’s justifications for invasion, and the ever-present problem of historical victimhood."

Read the review by Jimmy Johnson on Mondoweiss.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recommended Congregational Actions for Peace - August 23/24, 2014

The Working Group on the Middle East has several  recommended actions for Metro Chicago Synod congregations to take for the weekend of August 23-24. Please use all of your church communication channels to publish these two actions.

 We pray that the one minute of silent prayer is making a difference in your congregation and community. This is a continuing request from Working Group members.

The monetary crisis for Augusta Victoria Hospital grows with each passing day. Bishop Eaton’s February 14, 2014 letter to John Kerry regarding the Palestinian National Authority (PA) payments has not alleviated the need for on-going support. If each family in your congregation would donate $5 to Augusta Victoria Hospital, it would be not only monetary support but personal encouragement for the hospital personnel who suffer daily with their patients.

Or consider financial support for a missionary to Jerusalem or to Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

Reading material: “The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust” – Noam Chayut (an Israeli soldier)
And, in case you want to read more: http://www.mcselca.org/what/ministry/middle_east/

But mostly for this August 24 Sunday, we strongly encourage representatives from each of the churches to attend the meeting at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 1133 Pfingsten Road in Northbrook from 3:30-5:00 pm where Ed Thompson, co-founder with Sam Bahour of ‘Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy’, a nonprofit organization promoting economic partnerships between Americans and Palestinians and Rev. Jon Holm, a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams will share his personal experiences of spending the last three out of five summers in Hebron (Al Kahlil) to help us understand the reality of life under siege and to see where hope and help can be shared.

Also, please go to this link to join the Facebook Event and share with others: bit.ly/Aug24Northbrook

Rev. Joanne Fitzgerald, WGME Convener

Sept 14 on ABC in CHICAGO: "Augusta Victoria Hospital for Palestinians in the East Jerusalem, East Bank, and Gaza"

Watch "Sanctuary, Healing in a Holy Land,
Augusta Victoria Hospital" on Youtube

 Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries
And Tim Frakes Productions Present

A documentary on
The Augusta Victoria Hospital for Palestinians in the East Jerusalem, East Bank, and Gaza

Watch on Youtube

Originally broadcast:
Sunday, September 14, 11:30 a.m. - noon
ABC-7 Chicago

In this upcoming documentary, we will journey to the Holy Land and the Mount of Olives through the doors of Augusta Victoria Hospital, a program of the Lutheran World Service, serving Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the East Bank, and Gaza.

The summer of 2014 has seen a renewal of fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, resulting in more death, destruction and hardship. Throughout the insanity of armed conflict, the Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital has served in partnership with the United Nations as a major medical facility for Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Join us for their stories of faith, courage, and healing in a holy land that will challenge what you think about your politics, and your faith on Sanctuary, ABC-7 September 14, 11:30 am – noon.

Watch "Sanctuary, Healing in a Holy Land, Augusta Victoria Hospital" on Youtube

Broadcasting on Chicago Television Since 1956

Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries is a Tax Exempt, Illinois not-for-profit Corporation Carrying on the Communication Ministry of the Protestant, Orthodox and Episcopal Churches in Greater Chicago in cooperation with the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago

77 West Washington Street, 2nd Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60602
312/957-8440 gcbm@ameritech.net www.gcbm.org

Related links

ELCA Presiding Bishop calls on U.S. government to honor funding commitments in Palestine:

"It is the political responsibility of the U.S. government to preserve the status quo in East Jerusalem and to ensure that a humanitarian crisis does not develop," Eaton wrote. "A humanitarian issue will most certainly arise if Augusta Victoria Hospital is unable to meet the needs of patients seeking treatment. The lives of patients at (the hospital) must not be placed in jeopardy because of this situation." (See full February 10, 2014 letter: "ELCA presiding bishop asks U.S. government to support hospital in Jerusalem")

Additional thoughts on . . . Augusta Victoria Hospital . . . 
From The Messenger (blog of St. Luke's Lutheran Church Logan Square, Chicago)
On Sunday, December 1, a small group of us met to learn more about Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), and to think about the ways in which proclamation, service, and advocacy are present in the work they do.

We learned that AVH operates an extremely modern hospital in Jerusalem, with specialties in oncology (cancer), diabetes, and gastroenterology.  Their focus is on providing world-class medical care, particularly to the Palestinian community.  Many of the doctors and other service providers at AVH are Palestinian.

We learned that, in order for Palestinian people to obtain health care, they need help surmounting many obstacles, particularly obstacles to movement.  Thus, providing health care there involves staunch advocacy.

We watched several videos: a video about AVH (Augusta Victoria Hospital: A Sign of Hope in a Troubled Land ) as well as a World Health Organization video about the difficulties of getting health care under occupation:  Fatenah (Part 1Part 2Part 3).

All of this led to a lot of discussion, including discussion about how unequal access to health care is often encountered as a justice issue — including in many parts of Chicago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Recommended Congregational Actions for Peace - August 16-17, 2014

The Working Group on the Middle East has two recommended actions for Metro Chicago Synod congregations to take for the weekend of August 16-17. Please use all of your church communication channels to publish these two actions.

First . . . have you been reading the newspapers … the Internet?

Do you want to know more… about something new and something old?

About what is truly happening in Israel and Palestine?

About something promising?

There is good news and not-so-good news and we'd like to tell you more!! Come to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 1133 Pfingsten Road, Northbrook, IL on August 24th, 3:30-5:00 pm. to hear and learn more about the “word on the street”.

Recently returned from the Holy Land, Ed Thompson and the Rev. John Holm will be the presenters to help us understand this good and not-so-good news. Come join us from 3:30 pm to 5 pm. Light refreshments and conversation to follow.

Join the Facebook event and invite friends!

Second, remember still to have the one minute of silence for the end to the conflict and for the safety of all Christians in the Middle East. (See Bishop Eaton’s recommendation for 60 seconds of silence during the prayers of the church and additional language in last week's recommendations.)

On behalf of the WGME,

Rev. Joanne Fitzgerald
Martin Luther Lutheran Church

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 24 in Northbrook: "Two Lutherans On Their Recent On-the-Ground Experiences in the West Bank"


Sunday August 24, 2014
3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
1133 Pfingsten Road
Northbrook, IL

Fresh from their recent visits to the West Bank, presenters Ed Thompson and John Holm will share experiences not found in the US media.

Ed Thompson
Ed Thompson has been active with the Working Group on the Middle East since 2007. He recently co-founded Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy with Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American business leader. He visited over 20 business organizations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in June of 2014.

View the YouTube video of Ed Thompson. (See bit.ly/ThompsonWestBank)


Rev. John Holm
 Rev. John Holm is a Lutheran pastor who works as a church consultant with TAG Consulting. He is a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams serving three of the last five summers in Hebron.

View the YouTube video of John Holm. (See bit.ly/HolmHebron)

The church is located at 1133 Pfingsten Road (at the corner of Cherry Avenue), Northbrook IL 60062, Tel: 847-272-0400. Questions? ethompson@dpfinc.com

Related posts

When I met Sam for dinner on Sunday night, June 15, 2014, in Ramallah, he said, “Things are tense.” I had been on vacation with my family in Greece for the previous two weeks and had not heard anything about the three missing Israeli teenagers. Over the course of the following week, however, I experienced first-hand the consequences for Palestinians living in the West Bank when Israel finds a pretext to unleash their military might.

(See "No Immunity Bubble Required" by Ed Thompson)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday, Aug. 10 - Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton interviewed on the Al Mayadeen TV network

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was interviewed on the Al Mayadeen TV network, based in Beirut, Lebanon. Al Mayadeen claims a viewership of about 20 million in the Middle East and beyond.  

Watch the full interview on Youtube.

Some excerpts:

"There must be a viable, contiguous, Palestinian state and a secure Israel."

"We are contacting Congress and the President and saying that the illegal settlements [on the West Bank] must stop."

"Since 2012 we've given $3 million in aid to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land . . . . Just lask week we sent $100,000 to Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jeruslame to send medical teams to Gaza to help the people down there."

The interview includes extensive discussion of the ELCA posture toward BDS vs. "positive investment," as well as exploration of the situations in Iraq and Syria, especially the fate of religious minorities there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Recommended Congregational Actions for Peace - August 9-10, 2014

The Working Group on the Middle East has two recommended actions for Metro Chicago Synod congregations to take for the weekend of August 9-10. Please use all of your church communication channels to publish these two actions.

First, we encourage each congregation to continue Bishop Eaton’s recommendation for 60 seconds of silence during the prayers of the church. These seconds of silence might be prefaced by the following:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land raises its voice to ask all people of good will to intervene in the present situation of unacceptable violence and bloodshed. Your intervention and action will create hope in a hopeless situation. If we cannot take steps toward peace, we will continue to be held hostage by extremism. Please do not leave us alone in this moment of struggle. The whole Middle East is boiling. We need your prophetic voice and support so that peace built on justice and reconciliation built on forgiveness will prevail.

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Second, we encourage members of Metro Chicago Synod churches to participate in the Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre scheduled for 2:30 PM on Sunday, August 10 starting at Michigan & Congress in Chicago. Awad Hamdan, the organizer, is asking for 25,000 people to participate. The two marches that Hamdan and several groups sponsored in July had thousands of people participating with announced numbers of 10,000 at the first march and 15,000 at the second march. Please announce this march at services and in other communication channels that your congregation uses.

Join the Facebook event and invite friends.

On behalf of the WGME,

Rev. Joanne Fitzgerald
Martin Luther Lutheran Church