The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Checking facts in the Holy Land

Bishops hope to increase awareness in synods

They went to Lutheran schools and worshiped at Lutheran churches; visited homes of the faithful; met with political, religious and community leaders; and viewed historical and religiously significant sites in the Holy Land.

Mark B. Brown (pointing) shows bishops
Mark B. Brown (pointing) shows bishops where an 84-unit housing development for Christians will be located on the Mount of Olives. An ELCA pastor, Brown is regional representative for the Lutheran World Federation, which owns the 46-acre hilltop site overlooking Jerusalem and its Augusta Victoria Hospital, the only center for oncology in the West Bank. Funding for the $8.4 million project is nearly complete, he said. In 1946 there were 31,400 Christians living in Jerusalem along with 99,000 Jews and 34,000 Muslims. Today there are more than 440,000 Jews, 200,000 Muslims, but less than 10,000 Christians. The shortage of affordable housing in Jerusalem is a key factor contributing to the departure of many Christians, Brown said.

As 44 bishops of the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, they gained “facts on the ground” insight into one of world’s most complicated and volatile regions during their Jan. 6-13 trip to Israel and the West Bank. A few also visited Jordan Jan. 3-6.

Bishop James A. Justman of the East-Central Synod of Wisconsin said he brought home “a strong and necessary dose of humility mixed with hope. Humility in the face of an ancient land suffering from the conflicts between ancient peoples. Humility in sensing the complicated layers and experiences that still fuel the divisions. Hope in seeing the stories of people who work for peace and refuse to give in to the anger and strife that pervades the land.”

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