Dear Friends,

Greetings! And welcome to the Mennonite Palestine Israel Network! This email goes out to over 100 folks who have expressed interest in and who have already provided helpful feedback on the form and function of this network.

As you all know, there has been significant interest among folks within the Mennonite Church in the U.S. in looking at action and advocacy opportunities related to the situation in Palestine-Israel. The beginnings of a “Mennonite Palestine Israel Network” have emerged, and as this initiative is getting off the ground a small steering committee has been formed including Jason Boone (coordinating minister at MC USA Peace and Justice Support Network), Tom Harder (co-pastor at Lorraine Ave Mennonite Church in Wichita, KS), Joy Lapp (professor at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt Pleasant, IA), Sue Lyke (kindergarten teacher in South Bend, IN), George Muedeking (worship leader at Albuquerque Mennonite Church in Albuquerque, NM), Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach (director at MCC U.S. Washington Office), and Timothy Seidel (student and member of Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, PA).

Many of us were at the recent Mennonite Church USA convention in Phoenix and observed significant ongoing interest in engaging the church’s role in Palestine-Israel. There was quite a bit of activity including workshops, a discussion on the Kairos Palestine Document and on alternative travel to the “Holy Land”, a conversation on “The Church an Israel/Palestine”, as well as a performance of the play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” (with Rachel’s parents in attendance). It was also in Phoenix where many of us were introduced to the idea of this network.

The purpose of this welcome email is three-fold. First, thank you! Thank you for your interest in participating in this initiative. The network terms of reference is attached. It describes the network’s purpose as: 1) to encourage and support advocacy and action in local and national contexts, with a special emphasis within the Mennonite Church; 2) to develop and/or promote educational resources related to Israel/Palestine, including books, movies, and curricula for use by individuals, congregations, or other groups; 3) to enable quick communication among members of the network and the larger Mennonite Church regarding ongoing developments in Palestine/Israel; and 4) to join with people of faith and conscience around the world who share our passion for peace with justice, especially those working within Palestine/Israel.

Second, the attached also describes the work of several network subcommittees. Looking at those descriptions, would you be interested in serving on any of the subcommittees?

Third, as we discern next steps the steering committee invites your feedback. What do you think about these terms of reference? Are there other activities not listed in the attached that you feel would be important for such a network and that you would have an interest in engaging? In other words, how might a Mennonite Palestine Israel Network be most helpful for you in your context?

Thanks so much for your thoughts! We are eager to hear from you.

Peace,

Mennonite Palestine Israel Network Steering Committee

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