January 12, 2009
Monday found Lutheran bishops from North America planting olive trees, praying for peace and understanding along a separation wall and listening to students at a West Bank school speak frankly about their future.
Leaders of the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada ventured to the village of Beddo, near the city of Ramallah and north of Jerusalem to plant the hardy trees in a wasteland of trash, construction debris and destroyed arbors.
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|Bruce H. Burnside, bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, digs a hole to plant an olive tree in Beddo.|
|Bishops from North America prepare to pray at a gate along the separation wall in Beddo. Israeli police keep an eye on them.|
They then gathered at a nearby gate along the separation wall to pray for peace. They did so under the watchful eye of an Israeli police crew.
The bishops are in the Middle East in an effort to stress accompaniment with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, raise awareness of regional issues and boost advocacy for peace.
|Two students on the playground at Lutheran School of Hope, Ramallah.|
In one group, five of eight students said they planned to emigrate when they're finished with school. They spoke frankly of their anger with Israel for what they said was an overly violent assault on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
"We are not animals, we have feelings, we are human beings," said Majdi Habash.
The bishops conclude their visit Tuesday with tours of three other schools on the West Bank.