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Gaza and Israel - Part 2

I suppose it could go without saying why the Evangelical Lutheran Church cares about the history and current situation in the Middle East. We care because God's love and hope for Peace extends to all people. We care about Palestine, the Holy Land, because as Christians our history lives there in a unique way. We care because as Lutherans we have a particular, and not particularly pretty, history intertwined with the Holocaust in Germany. 

What this care means is that the Lutheran World Federation has been active in the region of Palestine (I use "Palestine" here as the historically accepted term for the territories occupied by Israel, Gaza and the West Bank today.) since the creation of modern day Israel in 1948. I touched on this in last week's post. 

Young Adults in Global Mission

One ministry of the ELCA is our "YAGM" - or "Young Adults in Global Mission" program. (Short video link.) YAGMs are individuals ages 21-35 who give a year of service and learning out of the U.S. They share in the journeys of companion churches and organizations in one of six country programs around the world. We do currently have YAGMs serving in Israel and the West Bank with congregations and school of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Reports are that they are current safe and sheltering in place. However, as demonstration and confrontations intensify in the West Bank let us keep these young people in our prayers, as well as the people they are ministering to and with. 

(Photo of 2009 YAGMs planting trees in Olive Orchards in the West Bank with with ELCJHL church members.)

PEACE NOT WALLS

It can be difficult to navigate the space between faith, justice and politics. The ELCA established a ministry focus title "Peace Not Walls" as part of its implementation of a 1995 Social Statement on Peace. For many years now we have been engaged with work in the Holy Land for the benefit of all. With our Lutheran partners in the ELCJHL we have engaged in advocacy efforts to bring about a just and lasting negotiated resolution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict. We ...

  • Call for equal human dignity and rights for all people in the Holy Land.
  • Call for an end to Israeli settlement building and the occupation of Palestinian land, both of which violate international law;
  • Call for a two-state solution, with two viable, secure states living side-by-side.
  • Ask individuals to invest in Palestinian products to build their economy and to utilize selective purchasing to avoid buying products made in illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.
  • Call for an examination of U.S. military aid to Israel to ensure compliance with U.S. and international human rights law and a possible withholding of aid for noncompliance with those laws. 

As tensions have grown in Israel and Palestine the past few years the ELCA has begun a "Peace Not Walls" review process seeking the most faithful way to continue service in this area. 

Action alerts from "Peace Not Walls;" official communications relative to the safety of ELCA YAGMs in Palestine; relevant ELCA Social Statements "For Peace in God's World" and on "Human Rights;" as well as updates from the ELCJHL, Lutheran World Federation actions, and invitations and partner reports from other Christian institutions the ELCA ministers with can all be found online at the "ELCA Israel-Hamas War" page

Pray for Peace!

Pr. Dave Brauer-Rieke

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