Twinning Church Relationships: Guidelines for Ethical Practices
Mennonite Churches in North America are seeking to respond to the occupation and siege of Gaza through the vision of peace and solidarity. These congregations can express their commitment to Gaza by cultivating fraternal relationships of mutuality with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics, schools and civic society organizations in Gaza, praying and working for a just peace in Gaza and throughout the world. MennoPIN will facilitate these “Twinning” relationships as part of a campaign to “End the Siege in Gaza.”
As the people of Gaza continue to suffer under Israeli occupation, a crippling siege, frequent violence and deprivations, overseas churches are troubled by the policies and practices of their own countries that are implicated in the injustices and sufferings of the people of Gaza. We are concerned about how to be true sisters and brothers to each other as a global faith community that seeks peace and healing in a suffering world. In this manner we hope to become a testimony for love, nonviolence and active peace work as we provide a response to the wounds, fear and brokenness that injustice, occupation, and siege engender. MennoPIN offers the following guidelines for ethical and healthy relationships.
PRACTICES FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS:
- Grow in mutual knowledge of each other. One important aspect in developing a relationship is learning about the context in which the life and work of each person, congregation or organization is carried out. This will facilitate fraternal support and solidarity, offering an understanding of the challenges each faces in working for peace. Consider sharing congregational history, profiles, letters, photos, videos, and other elements.
- Pray for each other: As people of faith, we strongly believe in the power of prayer (Du’aa’) as we seek the Spirit of God to give us strength and wisdom to act in faithfulness and perseverance as we work for justice, peace and nonviolence. We could share prayer requests as part of our active communication.
- Let Gazans tell their story: We acknowledge the need to assist the people of Gaza in telling their stories and spreading their message abroad. Much of the suffering inflicted upon them can continue only as long as the outside world does not know about the suffering and impact the siege has on their lives.
- Channel gifts and talents towards our shared vision: Gifts of teaching, art, music, writing and public speaking can all be used to advance peace initiatives in solidarity both in Gaza and in our local communities and directly with our partner churches.
- Create a common plan of action: As appropriate, develop joint plans of action for furthering peace and lifting the siege. The Twinning relationship is not about money. However, considering the concentration of resources in the North, the material needs of Gaza and the restrictions placed on Gazans by the Israeli government, some North American churches may want to support institutions in Gaza financially. In that case, monies will be channeled through jointly agreed mechanisms for specific projects.
- Educate and analyze: Educate ourselves, as a congregation and community, on our governments’ policies towards Gaza and the impact of the continuing occupation and siege on our sister organizations and their constituents.
- Communicate with legislators: Ask Congress members to support helpful policies and change harmful ones. Particularly call for the end of the siege and of attacks on civilian and noncombatants.