Over 100 UK church leaders from all denominations will gather on Monday 22nd September for a day conference to discover more about the ongoing crisis in the Holy Land and how this affects the Christian community.

Press Release – Pax Christi

"More and more UK churches are wanting to find out more about the situation for Christians in the Holy Land. They are telling us that they want to be able to talk about it confidently in their churches and want to have information to pass on to congregations. Whilst Christians in Bethlehem are calling for Christians in the U.K. to hear them…. "

said Garth Hewitt, Director of the Amos Trust and one of the speakers at the conference.

Entitled the Disappearance of the Holy Land, the conference, (taking place at All Hallows on the Wall, a City of London Church) aims to give more information about the current situation and discuss how churches should respond. Issues to be addressed include the crisis of the diminishing Christian presence in the Holy Land, the denial of human rights of the Palestinian Community, the impact of settlements, the segregation wall and the destruction of the biblical landscape. It will also discuss the implication for church pilgrimages to the Holy Land in the light of new and differing restrictions for Palestinian and Israeli tour guides.

The ecumenical conference has been organised by a coalition of 9 Christian and Jewish groups and charities namely Living Stones, Ekklesia, Pax Christi UK, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Friends of Sabeel, Justpeace60, Amos Trust, the Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.  The speakers are from both the Palestinian and Israeli communities providing first hand reports of the current situation in the Holy Land.

Speakers will be:

Jeff Halper, Jewish Israeli anthropologist and founder of the Israeli Campaign Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and author of "An Israeli in Palestine : Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel."

Sami Awad, a Christian Palestinian from Bethlehem, who is the director of the Holy Land Trust, an organisation that supports alternative tourism and facilitates nonviolence workshops across the West Bank.

Garth Hewitt, director of the Amos Trust and Canon of St Georges Cathedral, Jerusalem , and author of "Bethlehem Speaks: Voices from the Little own Cry Out"Palestinian Ambassador, Dr Manuel Hassassian, (who is a Christian from Bethlehem ) will also greet the conference.

There will also be a launching of a new film for churches – “ Bethlehem

– Hidden from View", which gives an updated picture of the crisis in Bethlehem and features all of the conference speakers.

The conference follows up the Just Peace 60 initiative of May of this year, when over 140 Church leaders and theologians put their names to a historic joint declaration calling for a just peace in Palestine/Israel. The signatories included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, other senior bishops and ministers from many denominations, who committed themselves "to a courageous settlement whose details will honour both peoples' shared love for the land, and protect the individual and collective rights of Jews and Palestinians."

Conference Venue: All Hallows Church, 83 London Wall, London EC2 5ND Conference begins at 10.00am For more information or to interview those speaking at the conference please contact Sarah Dean on 0207 588 2638

Pat Gaffney General Secretary Pax Christi St Joseph's Watford Way London , NW4 4TY

0208 203 4884

http://www.paxchristi.org.uk/