The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Peaceful presence

ELCA 'accompaniers' walk with Palestinians and Israelis

When Meg Kiekhaefer read about an opportunity to help Palestinians who advocate nonviolent means to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, she felt compelled. "It was a calling to make a moral decision," the soft-spoken scientist said.

A gravel truck along an Iowa highway confirmed Kiekhaefer's decision. The truck bounced, sending a rock hurtling through her windshield. Driving home with a cut on her head, she decided Palestine wouldn't be more dangerous than Iowa's roads.

A member of Zion Lutheran Church, Iowa City, Iowa, Kiekhaefer was the first North American to volunteer for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine, an initiative of the World Council of Churches.

Accompaniers walk with Palestinians and Israelis in nonviolent actions and advocacy to end the occupation. They monitor violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and offer protection through their presence. While most participants are Western Christians, the program recently placed its first Jewish accompanier.

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