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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Volunteers keep watch in the West Bank

A temporary home awaits a volunteer in Ramallah, West Bank. Esther Nelson, a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church, Lake Oswego, Ore., lived there until November through the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.

Accompaniers volunteer for a minimum of three months. Margaret Kiekhaefer, a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Iowa, lived in the Occupied Territories for three months prior to February 2003. She taught science at the Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah and identified residents needing health care. Others accompany Israelis working for peace.

Nelson spent her first month in Yanoun where she kept track of Israeli settler activities.

"When we are here, things go a little better," she said. "We sit with electrical workers stringing cable, visit the school, make rounds of village homes. We walk with people on their land. We record license plate numbers and take pictures of settlers who unsettle the village. We are visible."

Since the program began in 2002, 80 people from nine countries have volunteered. Julie Rowe, an ELCA hospital chaplain from San Antonio, left for the West Bank in November. Lynne Rigg, a retired ELCA pastor from Red Wing, Minn., volunteered in 2003.

For more information, visit www.pepm.org or call the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs (202-783-7507).


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