January 5, 2009
Meetings, mountains, delays
Monday was a day of official meetings, historic and breathtaking scenery and the end of an epic journey for ELCA bishops visiting the Middle East.
|Mount Nebo, Jordan|
A delegation from the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada met with the speaker of the Jordanian legislative body as well as leaders of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center.
The bishops are an advance party of a larger gathering of American and Canadian bishops Jan. 6-13 in Israel and the West Bank. They are on a mission of accompaniment, awareness and advocacy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.
Tuesday promises an even more significant talk. Jordanian King Abdullah II is scheduled to meet with Presiding Bishops Mark S. Hanson and Susan C. Johnson of the ELCA and ELCIC, respectively, and Bishop Munib A. Younan of ELCJHL in a private session.
|Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Susan Johnson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Nabil B. Haddad, Melchite priest; and Ahd al Fatah Salah, Jordanian Minister of Islamic Affairs|
In talks with the religious leaders, Hanson, Johnson and the other bishops signed on to a 2008 document between Christians and Muslims in Jordan that urges respect for each others beliefs, prophets and holy books, as well as free access to all holy sites.
At a news conference in the evening, Hanson called for a more active role by the U.S. to end the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day a small group of bishops went to Mount Nebo, from where the Bible says Moses viewed the promised land-today's Israel, Jordan and the West Bank — just before his death.
And at days end, Bishops Harold L. Usgaard of Southeastern Minnesota Synod and Duane C. Pederson of Northwest Synod of Wisconsin Synod arrived in Amman after two full days of travel. Their plane was delayed three hours leaving Minneapolis. They missed their connecting flight in New York to Jordan, so they spent the night in the airport. Once finally in Istanbul, they missed another connecting flight, delaying their eventual landing in Jordan by several hours. They showered, changed clothes, joined an evening reception and made the best of their adventure.