Peace Not Walls General Secretary Calls for Reversal of Israeli Knesset law Categorizing Palestinian ChristiansJulie Brenton Rowe<div class="ExternalClassDAF401AE66E840919A3762D73E44BBC9"><p>​<img title="World Council of Churches" alt="World Council of Churches" src="http&#58;//" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;435px;" /><br>19 March 2014 - Joining voices of the churches in Palestine and Israel, the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed “grave concern” about a law recently passed by the Israeli Knesset or parliament.<br><br>The law passed by the Knesset on 24 February would define the status of Palestinian Arab Christians in the state of Israel.<br><br>Top officials of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land have said that this new law “introduces a distinction between Christian and Muslim Palestinians and states that Christian Palestinians are Christians and not Palestinians”.&#160; The church added&#58; <span><span>“This campaign clearly has as its aim to divide Christians from their Muslim compatriots. However, it is equally dangerous because it will divide Christians among themselves even further,”</span></span><br><br>In a statement issued on 18 March, Tveit called on “Israeli authorities to reverse this law to stop an injustice against the Christian citizens of Israel”.&#160; He encouraged the WCC member churches to “raise this issue with representatives of Israel and with their own governments”, urging reversal of this law.<br><br>Tveit said that this law establishes a “legislative distinction between the indigenous Palestinian Arab Christians and Palestinian Arab Muslims, both of whom are citizens of the State of Israel”. This distinction, he stressed, is an “unacceptable severing of entire communities from their cultural identity”.<br><br>Tveit added that the “Knesset has transgressed all proper distinctions between state and religious authority by attempting to define the nature and character of Christian communities within Israel against their own will and self-understanding”.<br><br>Warning of the adverse implications of this law, Tveit said that “rather than creating divisions among communities, the Knesset should pave the way for breaking down barriers that divide people according to ethnicity and religion.” Tveit echoed heads of the Catholic Church in Israel, who stressed that “it is not the right or the duty of the Israeli civil authorities to tell us who we are”.<br><br>The WCC has long affirmed the right of religious communities to define themselves, condemning the manipulation of religious identity for political gains.<br><br><a href="https&#58;//;URL=http&#58;//">Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s statement</a><br><a href="http&#58;//">Statement on Knesset law by he Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries</a><br><a href="https&#58;//;URL=http&#58;//">WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum</a><br><a href="http&#58;//">WCC programme &quot;Churches in the Middle East”</a></p></div>03/20/2014Prayers for Dr. Tawfiq Nasser and Augusta Victoria HospitalJulie Rowe<div class="ExternalClass721D5B930E8E47D0AC9DC0C199C137C6"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;verdana;"><span style="font-family&#58;verdana;"><img alt="Tawfiq Color.jpg" src="" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" /></span></span>&#160;</p><p style="margin&#58;0in;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;11pt;">Please join with our sisters and brothers throughout&#160;<a href="http&#58;//">The Lutheran World Federation</a>&#160;in prayer for Dr. Tawfiq Nasser who is undergoing surgery today at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.<span style="">&#160; </span>Dr. Nasser, CEO of <a href="http&#58;//">Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH)</a>&#160;in Jerusalem, has been instrumental in bringing remarkable improvements to the care, treatment and administration of AVH during challenging times.&#160;&#160;</p><p style="margin&#58;0in;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;11pt;">&#160;</p><p style="margin&#58;0in;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;11pt;"><img src="http&#58;//" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;252px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />The LWF and the ELCA recently issued an action alert to resolve&#160;a financial crisis created by the non-payment of $18 million in fees for patients that were referred to the hospital by the Palestinian Authority.<span style="">&#160; </span><a href="http&#58;//">Find out how you can help.</a></p><p style="margin&#58;0in;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;11pt;">&#160;</p><p style="margin&#58;0in;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;11pt;">Please include Tawfiq, his family, those who care for him and the patients and staff at AVH in your prayers.<strong>&#160;</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>&#160;</strong></p></div>03/17/2014Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem Needs Urgent Financial AssistanceKarin Brown<div class="ExternalClass62339CE680624CF2B5A26181686B638E"><p>Call for critical financial support for Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem to avoid interruption of essential health care.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//;type=CO">Click here</a> to contact your representative and senators. </p><p>Augusta Victoria Hospital, operated by the <a href="http&#58;//"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lutheran World Federation in East Jerusalem</span></a>, continues to provide life-saving health care to Palestinians but is facing a critical financial situation. The essential medical services provided by the hospital are currently threatened by a financial crisis caused by the non-payment of fees for patients that are referred to the hospital by the Palestinian Authority. The debt is now EUR 18 million.</p><p>Augusta Victoria Hospital is managed efficiently and effectively. It operates in the black and, had all fees been paid by the Palestinian Authority, the hospital would be able to meet all of its current financial obligations.</p><p>In an interview Dr. Tawfiq A. Nasser, chief executive officer of the hospital, said, &quot;It is frustrating for us to be running a very successful hospital serving tens of thousands of patients only to be hindered by external factors beyond our control that are negatively affecting the wellbeing of our patients. The lives of our patients are held hostage to the political economy of the region that is beyond the control of anyone at the hospital. We appeal to anyone who can make a difference to put politics and bureaucracy aside, think of the lives of these poor cancer patients who can only be treated at Augusta Victoria Hospital, and rush to help in any way they can. It is the right thing to do. It is the human thing to do.&quot; </p><p>Augusta Victoria Hospital provides life-saving health care to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, including specialized treatment offered at its cancer, diabetes and pediatric centers. The hospital is widely acknowledged in governmental and church circles for its excellent treatment and care and is internationally accredited.</p><p>Augusta Victoria Hospital is the first and only hospital to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories and is the only medical facility in the West Bank offering pediatric kidney dialysis. The accumulating debt will cause a humanitarian crisis that will punish the most vulnerable in society, those who depend vitally on the hospital's medical care. </p><p>In 2012, Augusta Victoria Hospital cared for nearly 28,000 inpatients and outpatients. Its specialized care centers offered more than 13,200 dialysis sessions, nearly 10,000 chemotherapy sessions, and over 14,000 interventions in the radiation oncology unit on an outpatient basis.</p><p>In order to prevent a catastrophic interruption to these critical health services the U.S. government needs to step in and help find a solution to this financial and humanitarian crisis.</p><p>See <a href="http&#58;//"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Press Release</span></a> and <a href="http&#58;//"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">LWF Press Release</span></a> for more information.</p><p>&#160;<a href="http&#58;//;type=CO">Click here</a> to contact your representative and senators. </p><p>Ask them to&#58;</p><ul><li>Contact Secretary of State John Kerry and USAID and ask for the U.S. government to help find a solution that will enable the Palestinian Authority to honor its financial commitments to humanitarian institutions such as Augusta Victoria Hospital.</li><li>Ask Secretary of State John Kerry to recognize the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding and to respond immediately by providing funding to the Palestinian Authority that is restricted to paying down the debt to Augusta Victoria Hospital. This earmarked funding for Augusta Victoria Hospital will help to insure that there is no interruption to patient services.</li></ul></div>02/10/2014Dedication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethany-Beyond-the-JordanJulie Rowe<div class="ExternalClass92611919E0EC480998125F053AEA9029"><p>​<a href="http&#58;//"><img alt="processionweb.jpg" src="" style="margin&#58;5px 10px;width&#58;250px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" /></a>Over 150 international companions from around the world and local Christians gathered for the&#160;dedication of the new <a href="http&#58;//">Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan</a>, built on the Jordan side of the river, said to be the site of where John the Baptist baptized Jesus and crowds of others.&#160;&#160;The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan gave land to 7 churches, including the ELCA's companion the <a href="http&#58;//">Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land,</a> to build pilgrimage sites around the baptismal sites.&#160;&#160;<br><br>&#160;Rev. Rolf Pearson and his wife Kerstin were&#160;installed as aretakers of the&#160;new site.&#160;&#160;He will be developing worship services and spiritual practices and both Rev. Pearson and Kerstin will be working on creating a pilgrim center. </p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Click here to see more images </a>of the dedication from Danae Hudson, Communications Assistant at the ELCJHL.</p></div>01/16/2014ELCA urges US Senate hearing to increase aid to Syrian refugees and IDDPs Julie Brenton Rowe<div class="ExternalClass1B9F875CD30A45898FB600AC17ACC82C"><p>​The ELCA released a statement today urging increased financial support for Syrian refugees and internally-displaced persons as well as encouraging refugee resettlement in the US and other countries.&#160; The ELCA presented the statement to the hearing on the Syrian Refugee Crisis held by the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.&#160; <a href="http&#58;//">Read full statement.</a><br></p><p>The ELCA's recent statement concluded&#58;</p><p><em>As the Subcommittee considers how best the U.S. can help protect and support vulnerable Syrian refugees, the ELCA recommends the following&#58;</em><br><br><em>• The U.S. Government should increase its financial support to the region as a necessary to means to meet the basic short-term needs of Syrian refugees. The ELCA recommends that the U.S. government further appropriate resources in order to keep up with the growing basic food and housing needs of refugees living in either camp or urban settings. An increase in financial support to help Syria’s neighbors meet the basic needs of its refugees is necessary. The U.S should also encourage its international partners to increase support for refugee-hosting countries through development assistance, bilateral aid, and increased funding of U.N. humanitarian appeals.</em><br><br><em>• The U.S. must help the international community to open all parts of Syria for humanitarian access. Any effort to ease the refugee situation in neighboring countries should take in to consideration measures that can alleviate the dire conditions of IDPs and IDDPs. Such measures require that the U.S. help the international community to open all parts of Syria for humanitarian access. NGO and church partners are prepared to further carry out these important humanitarian aims should additional resources be made available and should Syria be opened so that humanitarian help can reach those who need it. </em><br><br><em>• All vulnerable Syrian refugees should have access to the U.S. Resettlement Program. Supplementary resources need to be made available for Syrian refugees so that additional Syrian arrivals into the U.S. do not disrupt the regional allocations as outlined in the FY2014 Presidential Memorandum for Refugee Admissions. Syrian refugees should be welcomed in addition to the 70,000 already allocated for arrival in FY2014.</em></p><span><p><br></p><p><img src="https&#58;//" alt="Lutheran Disaster Response" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;baseline;width&#58;191px;" /><br></p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Find out more about the ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response in Syria and how you can help support it.</a></p></span><p><br><em></em></p></div>01/09/2014Follow the ELCA Peace not Walls/Young Adult Leadership Trip to the Holy LandJulie Brenton Rowe<div class="ExternalClass8A831068A00E4EE683BA1D45014F610D"><p style="font&#58;300 13px/20px &quot;helvetica neue&quot;, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 1.5em;padding&#58;0px;outline&#58;0px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;color&#58;#404040;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;baseline;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;background-color&#58;#ffffff;">Sixteen ELCA young adults from all over the US are in the Holy Land right now visiting holy sites, experiencing everyday realities and meeting their Palestinian sisters and brothers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and others working for peace with justice in the Holy Land.&#160; They plan to go back to the US and plan similar trips when they return.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" size="3"> </font><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin&#58;0in 0in 10pt;">Follow the trip's blog at&#160;<a href="http&#58;//"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><font color="#0066cc">http&#58;//</font></span></a>.&#160;<br><img alt="Image" src="http&#58;//" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;270px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin&#58;0in 0in 10pt;"><strong><em>&#160;From the blog&#58;</em></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin&#58;0in 0in 10pt;">What do you get when you mix 16 ELCA young adults from all over the United States who have flown to Israel and Palestine (with a quick stop in Jordan for a dedication of a church), asking them to learn more about Israel and Palestine in the context of their shared Christian faith, to grow in their leadership skills, connect with other young adults engaged in social justice, get involved with the Peace Not Walls Campaign of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and blog about it?</p><p style="font&#58;300 13px/20px &quot;helvetica neue&quot;, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 1.5em;padding&#58;0px;outline&#58;0px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;color&#58;#404040;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;baseline;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;background-color&#58;#ffffff;">You get us! (and a ridiculously long sentence). <br><br>The sweet 16 are in the midst of a two week experience of a lifetime and will be using this blog to share their reflections along the way.</p><p style="font&#58;300 13px/20px &quot;helvetica neue&quot;, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 1.5em;padding&#58;0px;outline&#58;0px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;color&#58;#404040;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;baseline;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;background-color&#58;#ffffff;">Thanks for joining us along the journey! leave a comment, lift up a prayer, and spread the word!&#160; The opinions expressed are the opinions of the individuals writing them and not necessarily the opinions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.</p><p style="font&#58;300 13px/20px &quot;helvetica neue&quot;, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 1.5em;padding&#58;0px;outline&#58;0px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;color&#58;#404040;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;baseline;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><a href="http&#58;//" style="margin&#58;0px;padding&#58;0px;outline&#58;0px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;color&#58;#117bb8;font-family&#58;inherit;font-size&#58;13px;font-style&#58;inherit;font-weight&#58;inherit;vertical-align&#58;baseline;"></a>&#160;</p></div>01/08/2014