Dear Partners in Mission:
In the past week tensions and violence have been rising in East Jerusalem. This has significant impacts for peace in our world and for our global partners particularly our Lutheran community in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Bishop Ibrahim Azar of the ELCSL wrote this statement on May 8th. Our global Lutheran Communion, the Lutheran World Federation, also on May 10th appealed to both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, as well as the global community, to work together to end the violence, the eviction of Palestinians from their homes, and the commitment that the LWF Augusta Victoria hospital on the Mount of Olives would continue operations including treating the wounded.
My conversations across our synod about the religious and political situation in the Holy Land have revealed a need to more deeply educate ourselves as to the realities of the history that has led us to this place. While some of us have visited the Holy Land, some many times, the snippets of information we receive through our local and national media do not adequately address the many complicated factors and stakeholders in this place that is holy to so many. To help us I have drawn on the expertise of Dr. Robert Smith, Director of Briarwood Leadership Center, to produce the attached document. Dr. Smith, an ELCA pastor, has lived in Jerusalem and his academic area of expertise is Christian engagement in the Holy Land, particularly Christian Zionism. I am appreciative for this material and encourage you to take the time to read it and engage it. Dr. Smith is available to visit with congregations and leaders about these issues. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join me in praying for peace in the Holy Land and educating ourselves on the situation and how we can be effective witnesses for justice.
In Christ, Bishop Gronberg