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Peace Not Walls

Christian Presence in Jerusalem

Today, September 27, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued a statement in support of HM King Abdullah II following his speech at the UN Assembly in NY on September 20. The speech raised concerns about threats to the Christian presence in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Patriarchs and Heads of Churches Statement about HM King Abdullah’s UN Speech

HM King Abdullah II speech can be watched here.

Statement on the Current Threat to the Christian Presence in the Holy Land


On December 13, 2021 the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued a Statement on the Current Threat to the Christian Presence in the Holy Land.


Inequitable Vaccine Distribution: Video from Bishop Azar and Action Step

ELCJHL Bishop Ibrahim Azar speaks to us from the Old City of Jerusalem about the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the inequitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. Watch the video here.

Respond by taking action:

Tell President Biden to defend Palestinian human rights. The administration must urge the Israeli government to ensure free and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Use the ELCA Peace Not Walls action alert to quickly send your message to President Biden.

Invite others to respond to this call for advocacy as well.

COCOP Statement on the Annexation Plans of the Israeli Government

A Statement from the Partners of the ELCJHL

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, Peace,” when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14

The international partners of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) at their virtual meeting on June 30, 2020, expressed their great concern about the current political situation in the Holy Land. The members of the Coordination Committee of Overseas Partners of the ELCJHL (COCOP) unanimously declared that the current plans of the Israeli government to annex the Jordan Valley and other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are against international law. The concern is that the annexation plans will lead to more political instability.

The members of COCOP express their concern for peace and the well-being of the people living in Israel and Palestine; Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They confirm their solidarity with their sister church as well as with all other Christians in the Holy Land. They also affirm their commitment to interreligious cooperation and partnership in the Holy Land and beyond. They are afraid that the annexation plans will lead to even more Christian emigration because through annexation many parishioners will lose their land. That means the Christian presence and witness in the Holy Land would continue to diminish. This would cause direct effects also on the spiritual life of the people and on the interfaith dialogue.

They are aware that other organization and churches in different countries have already expressed their deep concerns, such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Canada, and the USA, where the COCOP partners come from. They are aware of the Statement of Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches of Jerusalem of May 7, 2020 as well as the Statement of the Bishop of the ELCJHL, ‘Liberation, Not Annexation,” from Pentecost 2020. In addition, there are many other statements, including an Ecumenical Statement from the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance dated June 29, 2020.

The members of COCOP call upon:

  • the Israeli government to stop the annexation plans and end the occupation
  • the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government to hold Israel accountable if they go ahead with the annexation plans
  • the Palestinian leadership to end internal disagreements and to speak with one voice when opposing the annexation plans of the Israeli government
  • Israeli and Palestinian civil society to speak out against the annexation and advocate for negotiations
  • those with political responsibility in Israel Palestine to resume negotiations to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law and of the internationally agreed call for a two-state solution.

It is the hope of the international partners of the ELCJHL that – together with other churches and church related organizations – all those calls will be heard and the requested actions will be taken. The members of COCOP will continue to stand in solidarity with their sister church, especially in her effort to pray, preach, work, and teach the value of life, understand, and coexistence, and to continue to advocate for their liberation and freedom. The partners together with the ELCJHL will continue to work and pray for reconciliation and peace with justice in Israel and Palestine.

Signed by:

  • Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), Chairperson of COCOP
  • Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Co-Chairperson of COCOP

Original statement published on the ELCJHL website.

Message of comfort and assurance from ELCJHL Bishop Azar

On March 26, 2020 ELCJHL Bishop Azar shared a letter of comfort and assurance. Please find the full letter here.


ELCJHL Statement on COVID-19 in Jerusalem/West Bank

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land has issued a statement on COVID-19 in Jerusalem and the West Bank: ELCJHL Statement on COVID-19

Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land Video Featuring Students

In this video high school students share about their experience learning at the Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land. The 4 ELCJHL schools (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land) start with preschool and continue to Grade 12 with co-educational classrooms and curriculum designed to support inquiry, creativity, leadership with inter-faith dialog and peace resolution.

Learn more about how to support the schools here.


Easter messages from the Holy Land

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem shared an Easter message: read it here.

You can find the Easter message from Bishop Ibrahim Sani Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land here.

ELCA and ELCJHL Response to Jewish Nation-State Law

In her Aug 6 letter to Bishop Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), Presiding Bishop Eaton joins Bishop Azar in calling on the Israeli Knesset to rescind the recently adopted law titled: “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People”.

Bishop Azar’s statement on the Jewish Nation-State law calls “on the many citizens of Israel and all people of goodwill to voice their objection to this law, and to stand for a future in which all the people in the land will enjoy equal rights, with equal responsibilities.”

In Bishop Eaton’s letter she writes “Like you, I am quite disturbed about several aspects of this new law. It excludes ethnic and religious groups that have been living in this land for centuries, restricts the international human right to self determination solely for Jews within Israel, determines the status of Jerusalem outside of any negotiation or international agreement, sets forth one language as that of a multilingual nation, and encourages Jewish settlement, which appears to be not restricted to within the de facto pre-1967 borders. A number of these provisions effectively codify a second-class status for all who are not Jews, yet who are citizens or residents of areas under the control of the State of Israel. This is a violation of fundamental democratic principles and internationally-recognized human rights.”

Bishop Eaton calls “upon my own elected officials to object to this law and its intent. I encourage the members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and our ecumenical and inter-religious partners to continue together in the urgent pursuit of a future of peace with justice in Israel and Palestine.”

ELCJHL and ELCA messages on situation in Gaza

In a statement issued May 15, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) Bishop Sani-Ibrahim Azar condemns the killing of unarmed protesters in Gaza and asks  “people of faith around the world to join us in prayer, as well as in advocacy with your respective governments.”

Bishop Azar writes “Israel’s violent action against unarmed protestors at the Gaza border has resulted in the deaths of at least 60 human beings and more than 2000 injuries among whom are children and women. Our church, the ELCJHL, strongly condemns these killings and the unjustified and disproportionate use of force against unarmed civilians, as we condemn all violence.”

In response, ELCA presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shared a pastoral message about the situation in Gaza.

Bishop Eaton writes:

“Like so many here in our country and around the world, I am appalled and saddened by yesterday’s escalation of Israeli military action against protestors in Gaza. Many reports indicate that at least 60 Palestinians, including six children, have died and more than 2,000 have been injured as a result of Israel’s disproportionate use of force. Our church will support a planned medical mission from The Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem to Gaza to assist the wounded.

I join Bishop Sami-Ibrahim Azar of our partner church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), who today said:

We mourn with the families of the dead and dying and pray for the recovery of the injured. We believe that violent actions against the Palestinian civilians will hinder the potential for peace and reconciliation efforts between Israel and Palestine and will only lead to more violence and bloodshed.

I endorse his call “upon the Israeli government to show restraint and to pursue negotiations with Palestinian leaders rather than choosing violent action against unarmed protestors.”

Yesterday’s events should also be seen in the context of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. When that decision was announced late last year, I said:

This unilateral action would not support the cause of peace and a two-state solution but rather would unnecessarily create further tensions and possible violence that would make efforts to bring them back together for talks much more difficult.

I also support the ELCJHL’s long-standing position, affirmed by Bishop Azar today, that “any final status agreement will include Jerusalem as a shared city for Jews, Christians and Muslims with free access to holy sites for all and that it must serve as capital of both Palestine and Israel.”

Always, but especially in this time of deep distress, I urge us all to join his call to “continue to pray, advocate and faithfully work towards a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.””

Full text of ELCJHL Statement by Bishop Azar

Full text of ELCA Pastoral Message by Bishop Eaton