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Peace Not Walls

Heads of Churches of Jerusalem speak out on Illegal Seizure of Little Petra Hotel

On April 4, 2022 the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem released this statement:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” (Psalm 122:6–7)

The seizure of the Little Petra Hotel by the radical extremist group Ateret Cohanim is a threat to the continued existence of a Christian Quarter in Jerusalem, and ultimately to peaceful coexistence of the communities of this city. The Heads of Churches have repeatedly warned of the illegitimate actions of extremists, who have followed a pattern of intimidation and violence.

In occupying the Greek Orthodox Church’s property, the Little Petra Hotel, Ateret Cohanim has committed criminal acts of break-in and trespass. They act as if they are above the law, with no fear of consequences.

This issue is not about the individual properties, but about the whole character of Jerusalem, including the Christian Quarter. The Little Petra Hotel stands on the pilgrim route for the millions of Christians who visit Jerusalem each year. It represents Christian heritage, and speaks of our very existence in this place.

Israeli radical extremist groups like Ateret Cohanim are already targeting and hijacking our beloved Old City of Jerusalem and imposing their illegitimate and dangerous agenda on all sides. We refuse this and we say: this will lead to instability and tension at the time when all are trying to de-escalate and build trust, to build towards justice and peace. Acts of coercion and violence cannot lead to peace.

Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches of Jerusalem on the Illegal Seizure of the Little Petra Hotel

An article about the situation, including a video of Heads of Churches (including ELCJHL Bishop Azar) visiting Little Petra Hotel can be found 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.


Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine


Join us this Advent Season on the WAY to Bethlehem: Prepare, Journey, Arrive, Witness

Are you looking for an Advent resource for your home or church? The Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine is up and ready for you to use!

Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine: a four-week virtual pilgrimage from the ELCA’s Peace Not Walls and Young Adult Ministry teams featuring young adult voices from the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. 

What is “the way to Bethlehem,” as Advent practice, and as Christian engagement in Palestine? What does it mean for us as Christians, and for the church, to be called to resist the injustice of “the way things are” in favor of following the disruptive and transformative way of the Lord? What does it mean for us to be “on the way”?

This resource is available to everyone, regardless of age. You can use this resource as an individual or as a leader for a group gathering during Advent.

You can register here for the Monday Nov 22 Opening Webinar and to receive the resources directly.

All of the resources are here: explore the tabs to find the elements you want to use.

You will find:

Videos: five 5-minute videos (an intro and then 1 video for each week of Advent focused on a specific word and Biblical text)

Bible Study: includes Biblical text, discussion questions, centering and closing prayers for each gathering

Leaders Guide: suggestions for how to structure the group meeting time

Contributors: bios of the video presenters

Leader Webinar recording

What’s next: Ways to learn more and connect with advocacy opportunities through Peace Not Walls


Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine



During the Advent season we often talk a lot about the Holy Land of the past without talking much about the Holy Land of the present. What is going on in Bethlehem today? How are we called to accompany our Palestinian siblings in love, joy, hope, peace, and justice? What does this mean for our own advent journey?

Join ELCA Young Adults and ELCA Peace Not Walls starting Nov 30 for an Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine. This is a young adult led initiative that can be used by people of all ages.

Over the course of the 4 weeks of Advent young adults from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land will lead us on this pilgrimage through story, education, and theological reflection.

Every Monday of Advent we will share a video reflection and every Wednesday of Advent we will share a written blog post, accompanied by discussion questions and actionable items you can use with small groups.

Register here to receive Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine resources by email and/or to register for our opening educational webinar on Monday, November 30 8:30-9:30pm EST.

Follow at #AdventInPalestine!


Cry for Hope

On July 1 Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, a worldwide coalition born in response to the Kairos Palestine “Moment of Truth: a word of faith, hope, and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering,” issued an urgent call to Christians, churches and ecumenical institutions: “Cry for Hope”. We share this with you as an authentic voice of Palestinian Christians and encourage you to read and study it.

Called to be a daily peacemaker

Saleem Moussa Anfous is a member of the Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy LandIn September 2017 he participated in the Lutheran World Federation’s first interfaith “Peace Messengers Training”.  The participants gained skills and tools on advocacy, negotiation and mediation. They also learned how to combine such capacity with individual experiences, faith and cultural traditions.

Read his blog post here about the vocation of being a peacemaker in the multi religious context of the Holy Land.

Heads of Churches in Jerusalem Statement on Al Aqsa Mosque Compound (Haram AlSharif)

The recent escalation in violence in Jerusalem is centered around access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound (Haram AlSharif). Israel has placed metal detectors at the entrances to the compound following the killing of two Israeli Druze policeman by three Israeli Palestinians. In their statement the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem call for the historical status quo governing these holy sites to be respected.

Here is the full statement from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem.

Here is a current news article about the situation.

Lutheran World Federation Council Passes Two Resolutions on the Middle East

June 20 the Lutheran World Federation Council passed two resolutions related to the Middle East.

The resolution supporting Arab Christians in the Middle East supports the efforts of the “Fellowship of Middle East Council of Churches (FMECC) to sustain the Christian presence in the Middle East as a witness for the gospel of love and the sake of moderation.” The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is lifted up as a member church of the LWF in the region doing this work. The resolution also states that the LWF supports these churches “for the role they play in building a modern civil society that respects internationally-recognized human rights, including freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and promotes gender justice.”

A second resolution about Israel and Palestine highlights that “the well-known core issues that would be part of a final status agreement are still unresolved – borders, security, settlements, movement and access, refugees, mutual recognition and the status of Jerusalem.”   The resolution supports both the French and Arab Peace Initiatives and calls on member churches to promote the participation of their own governments.

For the full text of the resolution about Supporting Arab Christians in the Middle East click here and about Israel and Palestine click here

To read more about the LWF Council Meeting 2016 click here


ELCJHL Rev. Mitri Raheb radio interview on Atlanta Church Summit and peace in Israel and Palestine

The Carter Center recently hosted a summit of Christian churches and church-related organizations from the United States and the Holy Land in Atlanta called “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence: The Atlanta Summit of American and Palestinian Churches.” The summit was aimed at helping to create “a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.” Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELJCHL) Bishop Munib Younan attended the summit.

One of the summit participants, Rev. Mitri Raheb (ELCJHL pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem), is interviewed by WBEZ 91.5 Chicago about how he thinks Christian churches and American political leaders can help facilitate peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Listen here to the radio interview with Rev. Raheb.

ELCA presiding bishop joins faith leaders at peace summit

ELCJHL Bishop Younan and ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton at the Atlanta Summit. Photo by Jessica Pollock-Kim/CMEP.

ELCJHL Bishop Younan and ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton at the Atlanta Summit. Photo by Jessica Pollock-Kim/CMEP.

The text below is directly from this ELCA news story:

CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), joined leaders of Christian churches and church-related organizations from the United States and the Holy Land in Atlanta April 19-20 for “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence: The Atlanta Summit of American and Palestinian Churches.”

This first-ever gathering of American and Palestinian Christians in the United States focused on exploring the role of Christian churches in peacemaking in Israel-Palestine and helping strengthen the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

“It was significant that a broad spectrum of Christian churches – Evangelicals to Orthodox, historic black denominations as well as mainline denominations – participated,” said Eaton. “This diverse coalition has more credibility than the usual alliances. The freedom of Palestine, the security of the state of Israel and the preservation of Arab Christianity in the Holy Land are not political issues for a few but a faith issue for many.”

Other representatives from the ELCA included the Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission; the Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann, CEO, Portico Benefits Services; and the Rev. Cindy Halmarson, area program director for Europe and the Middle East, ELCA Global Mission. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, attended along with patriarchs and other heads of churches in Jerusalem.

The event, held at the Carter Center, brought together about 100 leaders from diverse Christian denominations and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, mainline Protestant and historic African American and Latino churches. Former President Jimmy Carter delivered the keynote speech during the final session.

“Bishop Younan and other leaders are calling for U.S. churches to strengthen the Christian presence in Palestine,” said Halmarson. “I hope this conference is the beginning of a broader and deeper coalition of U.S. church support to accompany Palestinians in pursuit of peace and strengthening Christian presence in the Holy Land.”

The ELCA, through its Peace Not Walls campaign, is working for peace and justice in the region through accompaniment, advocacy and awareness-building. Among other objectives, the effort connects ELCA members with Palestinian Lutheran companion churches in the region to promote healing and reconciliation.

The goals of the Atlanta summit included drafting a summit document that articulates a comprehensive vision for the future of the Holy Land and its Christians, writing a letter to President Barack Obama that communicates this vision, and adopting a strategy for common witness by American and Palestinian churches.

The summit document states: “We have come together for two days of prayer and open dialogue in a spirit of theological and ethical urgency for a just peace, and to express our ecumenical unity in action towards the end of occupation and a lasting political situation in the Holy Land. We honor the land that witnessed to the life and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ affirming his call to justice, peacemaking and to the ministry of justice and reconciliation.”

The document outlines issues that merit special attention in order to effectively promote peace with justice and advance the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. The points include:

  • Develop more effective advocacy in the United States.
  • Educate members of congregations on the merits and necessity of a peace process that fulfills the rights of all people and nations in the region to live in security and peace.
  • Recognize, affirm and support the solidarity that is being demonstrated among some Christians, Jews and Muslims in addressing humanitarian needs, fighting poverty and fostering peace.
  • Designate a common day of prayer and reflections across churches in the U.S. and the Holy Land.

Following the Atlanta summit, Eaton and Younan joined Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem; Suheil Dawani, archbishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem; and several other members of the Palestinian delegation in Washington, D.C., April 21-22. At the White House, the group delivered the letter addressed to Obama and a copy of the summit document. Meeting with Dr. Colin Kahl, assistant to the president and national security adviser to the vice president, and Yael Lempert, special assistant to the president and senior director for the Levant, Israel and Egypt at the National Security Council, the delegation highlighted the importance of education in the Holy Land, the need to fight extremism and radicalism, and Jerusalem’s centrality to the peace process.

The group also met with U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, congressional staff members and representatives of the State Department to discuss the outcomes of the summit.

“The Atlanta Summit was very significant in many respects but especially for its reaffirmation of the Palestinian Christian presence in the Holy Land and its call to revitalize advocacy efforts in the U.S. towards a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” said Dennis Frado, director, Lutheran Office for World Community, ELCA Global Mission. “The delegation’s follow-up visit to Washington was important to convey those messages to U.S. policy makers.”

The Atlanta Summit document is available at
More information about Peace Not Walls is available at