From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Christians Being Recruited for Peacekeeping in Middle East

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Mon, 17 Jun 2002 14:14:25 -0500


June 17, 2002


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in
Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is recruiting Christians from all over
the world for peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East.  The World
Council of Churches (WCC) sponsors EAPPI, and the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is a member of the WCC.
     The WCC is a fellowship of 342 Christian churches in 120
countries, with offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
     EAPPI is looking for volunteers to travel to Israel and
Palestine to monitor human rights violations and protect Palestinian
and Israeli advocates of peace.  The Rev. Mark B. Brown, assistant
director for international issues, Lutheran Office for Governmental
Affairs (LOGA), Washington D.C., said the purpose of the program is
to support those who are struggling to end the occupation peacefully.
     LOGA is the federal public policy advocacy office of the ELCA.
     "We hope the presence of international monitors will reduce the
violence and encourage everyone to be on their best behavior," said
Brown.  "Sometimes a spotlight and people writing reports help create
a level of confidence for those who want to see nonviolent change."
     EAPPI is neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israeli, but rather
"pro-peace and pro-justice," said Catherine Gordon, associate for
international issues, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Washington, D.C.,
in a June 2002 news release issued by the Presbyterian News Service.
     The first group to go consists of 25 Christians from Canada,
Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the United States.  Their training
begins with a five-day course starting Aug. 13 in Washington, D.C.,
and continues when they arrive in the Middle East a week later.
EAPPI plans to send a new team every three months.
     Participants will be housed initially in Ramallah, Bethlehem
and Gaza.  Their job will be to accompany Israelis and Palestinians
and make sure they can go about their daily routines without being
detained or hassled.
     "We want them to be present at major gatherings where conflict
could erupt," said Brown.  "Accompaniment teams may be present at
places like funerals, demonstrations, checkpoints, or at someone's
home that is threatened with demolition."
     With the current unrest in the Middle East, the program poses
possible danger.  Participants would face the dangers faced by
Palestinian men, women and children everyday, but this has not
stopped people from applying, Smith said.
     "No one who has made an inquiry [about the danger] has focused
too much on the risks," said Smith.  "People applying have been to
the Middle East before and know the situation."
     Participants must be at least 25 years old and must stay in the
Middle East for at least three months to one year.  Participants need
to work with their local, regional and national church bodies to
raise enough money for their food, housing, airfare and
transportation, plus a donation to WCC to help pay for program
administration.  The deadline for applications for the first team is
July 1.
     There are other ways people can help EAPPI other than
participating in the accompaniment program, Brown said.
Congregations could pray for the participants, raise money for the
program, advertise what the participants are doing and engage in
advocacy here in the United States by writing letters to government
officials when they hear of international injustice, he added.
-- -- --
More information and updates on the Ecumenical Accompaniment
Programme are available at on the Web.

*Amy Wineinger is a junior at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa.  This
summer she is an intern with ELCA News and Media Production.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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