Greetings from the steering committee of the Mennonite Palestine Israel Network!
1. Peace Sunday: In our last update, we shared information about the upcoming Peace Sunday on September 21. For over a decade, September 21 has been recognized by many as an international day of prayer for peace. This year the Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA has provided Peace Sunday worship resources for congregations to “Pray of the Peace of Jerusalem.” Check them out at http://www.pjsn.org/Resources/congregations/Pages/Peace-Sunday-2014.aspx.
In addition to these worship ideas, consider hosting a film screening at your congregation for Peace Sunday. For example, check out The Stones Cry Out (http://www.middleeastbooks.com/products/the-stones-cry-out-the-story-of-the-palestinian-christians), a film that explores the Palestinian Christian experience of dispossession in 1948 and the destructive effects on the remaining Christian communities during the last 60 years of occupation.
Also, check out information from the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches, for prayer, education, and advocacy ideas for your congregation: http://pief.oikoumene.org/en/world-week-for-peace.
2. Prayer and action for Gaza and all of Palestine-Israel: In this month’s issue of The Mennonite, find an article written by one of the MennoPIN steering committee members that provides some context to the situation in Palestine-Israel as well as offering suggestions for getting involved. Read the article here: http://www.themennonite.org/issues/17-9/articles/Prayer_action_for_Gaza.
In our next update, we will share more information about what the MennoPIN subcommittees are up to, and in particular the plans in the works for how to engage BDS at next summer’s Mennonite Church USA meeting in Kansas City. Please keep spreading the word and keep checking back at out our website for more information: https://mennopin.wordpress.com/.
3. Visions for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land: This November Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA) is organizing a conference that includes an exciting line up of speakers and workshops. The purpose of this two-day conference, November 7-8 in Madison, Wisconsin, is to examine the role of the United States in Palestine-Israel and to listen to voices not often heard in the quest for peace and justice for all the people of the Holy Land. Learn more here: http://fosna.org/conference-trip/madison-wi-conference-november-7-8-2014.
4. Mennonite efforts to support peace in Palestine and Israel: Mennonite Central Committee U.S. has launched monthly gatherings this year for people who want to explore their beliefs, concerns and understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. J. Daryl Byler, former MCC representative with his wife, Cindy Lehman Byler, in Palestine and Israel, Iran, Iraq and Jordan, is facilitating these monthly conversations with churches and groups who invite him. Daryl is executive director at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Just this past weekend, Daryl was in Kansas speaking at several churches and schools (see attached photo), where his talks included topics of conversation like: paths to peace for everyone in the region; theological understandings about the state of Israel; fundamental justice issues in the region; and stories of Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians. For more information about participating in these “Conversations for Peace,” or learning tours to the region, visit: http://mcc.org/stories/supporting-peace-palestine-israel.
Sabeel Wave of Prayer, September 4, 2014
God of peace, we lift up our gratitude for the cessation of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket fire. In Gaza, people are uncovering the extent of the devastation to this small region where nobody was untouched by tragedy. Some estimate that it could take as many as 20 years to rebuild Gaza. Lord, as food and medical supplies enter through narrow Gaza border openings, we pray that this will be the last time the Gazans have to rebuild. Show your people there a future with freedom and human rights, merciful God, and let your peace and justice prevail. Lord in your mercy…
The Palestinian children in the West Bank and Jerusalem returned to school this week. Lord, give them safe passage as some cross checkpoints or travel near settlements or walk along busy roads. Many children in Gaza will start the school year late. Loving God, provide Gaza with safe school structures and the capacity it desperately needs so that the children there too can return to school and childhood. Lord in your mercy…
Lord, this week Israel announced the biggest plan in several decades to illegally confiscate Palestinian land (nearly 1000 acres/3799 dunams near Bethlehem) and turn it into land belonging to the state of Israel. Israel intends to build a large Jewish settlement there, which jeopardizes the possibly of establishing a Palestinian state. God of wisdom, we pray that the international community acts on this unjust land grab and others so that a permanent political solution can finally make its way to this weary region. Lord in your mercy…
We thank you for the people from organizations who are taking on the important task of counseling some of the traumatized children in Gaza: listening to their stories, providing creative outlets for expression, and offering support to their families to help them start to feel safe again. These social workers and educators are a light in the darkness, nurturing the littlest of your children. Lord in your mercy…
Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network Steering Committee:
- Jonathan Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
- Tom Harder (Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS)
- Joy Lapp (Pleasant View Mennonite Church, Mt Pleasant, IA)
- George Muedeking (Albuquerque Mennonite Church, Albuquerque, NM)
- Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach (Peace Fellowship Church, Washington, DC)
- Timothy Seidel (Community Mennonite Church, Lancaster, PA)