From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
LWF Delegation Concludes Four-Day Jerusalem Visit
"Frank Imhoff" <FRANKI@elca.org>
Wed, 12 Jun 2002 08:14:36 -0500
"Cordial, Open and Frank" Discussions with Israeli Foreign
JERUSALEM, 12 June 2002 (LWI) - A Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
delegation has returned home after meetings with people from all
spectrums of Palestinian society, Israeli peace activists, and an
Israeli government official.
LWF president, Bishop emeritus Dr. Christian Krause said he was
greatly encouraged by the positive approach and hopes of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (ELCJ), headed by Jerusalem
Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan. "This is a church in the right spirit,
with a focus upon the future for the younger generation." The ELCJ
works in Palestine, Jordan and Israel.
The delegation, in Jerusalem June 7-10, included members of the
LWF Executive Committee, ELCJ representatives and LWF staff. The
group visited several Lutheran schools and projects working toward
reconciliation, hope and peace, among them: the Dar al Kalama
Lutheran School in Bethlehem, Abraham's Herberge (House), Lutheran
Home for Boys in Beit Jala, and Lutheran School of Hope in
Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, chief executive officer of the LWF-run Augusta
Victoria Hospital (AVH), introduced the group to the many medical
services rendered to the community, including a kidney dialysis
unit, and cancer treatment center nearing completion.
The delegation met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President
Yasser Arafat on June 7, being the first visitors he had received
since the June 6 Israeli military attack on his headquarters. The
LWF representatives noted almost total destruction in the
compound, including damage to parts of the PA leader's living
quarters. The role of the local Christian Palestinian churches was
emphasized, and is much appreciated by Arafat. Told of the
Lutherans' international presence, he responded that he is very
aware of their services and contributions.
A small delegation led by the LWF president also met with Israeli
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres on June 10, to discuss
the question of employment taxes being levied on the AVH. Asked
about the outcome of the meeting with Peres, LWF general
secretary, Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko said: "The discussions were
cordial, open and frank. In the context of these discussions the
LWF requested, through Mr. Peres, the State of Israel to uphold
the present agreement between the LWF and State of Israel. This
agreement grants the LWF blanket tax exemption among which is
employer's tax, and secondly, that the two parties should agree on
suspension of the pending court case. The LWF also raised the
issue of recent destruction of Lutheran church property by Israeli
military forces, amounting to one million US dollars. Mr. Peres
promised to convey all these concerns to the relevant government
ministers and ministries."
Following the visit to Peres, the Jerusalem bishop made the
following request: "I ask local and international Lutherans to be
united on the legal status of local churches in general and the
local Lutheran church and communion in particular in regard to
their rights. If not, we run the risk of losing those rights,
being only narrow-minded in our own selfish interests."
Younan said he felt the meeting with Peres was about what he
expected, adding there is much work to be done, especially in
partnership with other Christian bodies in Jerusalem, such as the
Preaching at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala
on June 9, Krause, former bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Brunswick, Germany, said the LWF delegation had come to
stand in solidarity with Palestinian people at this difficult
time. He said, "The Lord has sent us to comfort all who mourn, but
the peace of God is [greater] than anything we can do."
Noting the deep suffering he had witnessed among the Palestinian
people, Noko said, "The humiliation Palestinians are experiencing
can only be described in tears, not words."
(Contributed by Rev. Dr. Mary E. Jensen, ELCJ communications
(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the
Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now
has 133 member churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5
million of the 64.3 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on
behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as
ecumenical relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human
rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and
development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva,
[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of
the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted,
material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the
LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article
contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced
* * *
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