STRONG PARTNERSHIPS SUPPORT THE CHURCH IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL
Presbyterians do Mission in Partnership! This fundamental tenet of our denomination is particularly important in Palestine, where the people with whom we partner are under great stress, needing the on-going encouragement that comes from knowing that others around the world understand their situation and pray regularly for them. Staying in relationship can also provide regular, up-to-date information, as events unfold.
Partnerships are not essentially about money but are instead about on-going personal relationships. In fact, money can get in the way of a good relationship, especially if finances become their central dimension. We seek to “walk with our partners,” to learn from them, encourage them and be guided in our actions by them.
Our denomination has long-standing partnerships with various ecumenical bodies in Palestine: Episcopal, Lutheran, Orthodox and Catholic, as well as the Middle East Council of Churches. The denomination also has long-term relationships with many church and para-church organizations. In visits and in conversations, we seek to honor and support those partnerships.
Many Presbyterians travel to Israel and Palestine seeking to deepen their spiritual roots. While there, they often become aware of the conflicts that engulf both Israelis and Palestinians, returning home anxious to learn more, to share what they have learned and influence policies of our church and our nation. Their ability to do that is strengthened if they learn about our denomination’s deep roots and long-term links with churches and church-based projects in the region, meeting and worshiping with fellow Christians while they are there. We hope that one of the outcomes of trips will be an on-going relationship with one or more of those entities. Repeat visits that maintain those contacts can be specially powerful.
Congregational partnerships come in many shapes and sizes, involving individual congregations, Presbyteries, or groupings of several Presbyteries. Some examples:
In addition to these projects initiated by congregations or Presbyteries, many congregations have on-going links with the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, facilitated through Friends of Sabeel North America. This group sponsors regular conferences in the US and in Palestine.
Other churches have links with Mar Elias Educational Institutions, the educational programs established there through the initiative of Archbishop Elias Chacour in Ibillin, Israel. These links are facilitated by the US organization, Pilgrims of Ibillin.