From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Palestine/Israel: Second group of ecumenical accompaniers to start work in March 2003
"WCC Media" <Media@wcc-coe.org>
Fri, 17 Jan 2003 13:01:31 +0100
World Council of Churches
Press Release PR-03-01
For Immediate Use
17 January 2003
Palestine/Israel: Second group of ecumenical accompaniers to start work in
Cf. WCC Press Release PR-02-06, of 11 February 2002
Cf. WCC Press Update Up-02-02, of 11 February 2002
Cf. WCC Press Update Up-02-25, of 26 August 2002
National coordinating committees for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme
in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) are finalizing their recruiting and selection
of participants for a second group of ecumenical accompaniers scheduled to
begin service in March. The EAPPI is coordinated by the World Council of
The first group of 17 international ecumenical accompaniers - from five
different countries: Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway and the United States
- began work in August 2002. They have been serving in East and West
Jerusalem, the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus, and in the
Rebecca Johnson has been appointed WCC/EAPPI programme coordinator in
Jerusalem, and began work on 20 December. Johnson, a Canadian, is a member of
the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), and has participated in delegations and
CPT active duty missions to Hebron in the West Bank. "The accompaniment
programme so far has done some excellent work on documenting, reporting and
raising awareness, particularly on the devastating aspects of the wall being
built on the Green Line around greater Jerusalem," Johnson states. "But some
of its most important work is simply to be present as a symbol of
international solidarity and hope that a just peace can be found."
The first phase of the EAPPI is now being assessed. "Our local partners, the
churches, keep saying: 'Stay with us. Don't leave like other delegations',"
reports Salpy Eskidjian, programme executive for WCC International Affairs.
"The accompaniment programme has produced many expectations internationally
and locally. We have raised a lot of hope, and that gives the international
ecumenical family a lot of responsibility."
Eskidjian visited Jerusalem in December and talked with local hosts as part
of the initial assessment. A local women's group stressed the importance of
the accompaniers working and living with them. "Here is tangible proof that
someone cares for them, that they are not alone. When they need to tell their
stories, they trust the accompaniers to write what they see and feel. They
know that someone is feeling their pain and is able to say it in ways that
others outside can see it too."
As one accompanier explained, "Now I believe more than ever before that we
don't see clearly what is happening here, and we don't say it clearly.
Churches must say very clearly and concisely that 'the occupation is
Eskidjian has no illusions about the difficulties ahead. "I think we're going
to have a lot of bloodshed for a long time to come. There is rigidity and
fear on both sides. Each side dehumanizes the other. This makes efforts like
ours - to continue to build bridges and highlight non-violent actions that
address the occupation as the root cause of the violence - so vital."
For the list of national coordinating committees, see
Photos and reports from the accompaniers can be found at:
For further information, please contact the Media Relations Office,
tel: +41 (0)22 791 64 21 / (41 22) 791 61 53
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in
more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works
cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which
meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in
1948 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary
Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.
World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346
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