The World Council of Churches has planned a joint advocacy initiative in support of Peace in Palestine. To date, seventeen countries and three international ecumenical organizations are involved.

The World Council of Churches has planned a joint advocacy initiative in support of Peace in Palestine. To date, seventeen countries and three international ecumenical organizations are involved. Four action categories are proposed for participants:

Pray, Educate, Advocate, and Public Action

The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is joining ICAPPI through its ‘Journey to Jerusalem’ event. The journey to Jerusalem is not just a gathering of one thousand children from 52 different parishes from the Holy Land . It is also symbolic in that these children gather together with Heads of Churches and local community leaders in order to portray how Jerusalem is perceived in the hearts and minds: as a holy city, an open city and a city of hope and peace.

Many children have never had the opportunity to visit or worship in the land where Jesus was born, even though they live only a few miles away. HCEF is excited to join efforts with WCC and other international ecumenical organizations in support of Peace. It’s time for Palestine.

Events Summary: Action week 2008 around the world

Jerusalem & Bethlehem:
One worldwide prayer for peace, many languages

• Churches in about 100 countries have received the Jerusalem Prayer for Sunday, June 8, 2008 from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. The prayer is intended for parish use and so far is available in English, Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian. Palestinian parishes in the Bethlehem enclave and elsewhere will be praying it too.
• An Ecumenical Service in Jerusalem will anchor the global week of church action on June 4th at 5 pm at St. Stephen’s Church (Ecole Biblique) on Nablus.
• Church-related organizations are planning a public commemoration on Sunday, June 8, in Bethlehem. The ceremony will include a 60-year ‘human clock’ in Manger Square at 7:30 pm that marks six decades of Palestinians living as refugees and uprooted people. There may be on-line sharing of the event to link action week participants worldwide.
• Church and Christian related organizations coalition is having a cultural and spiritual event in Jerusalem on 5th of June with prayer, songs, film and messages. Starting at 5pm with a photo gallery, a 10 minute movie at 7 pm and afterwards, songs by Reem El Bnana and the ICAPPI messages to follow.
• The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is joining ICAPPI through its 1000 Children Journey to Jerusalem with the message "Its time for Palestine." Activities will take place all day on June 8. For details, call Ramzy Qumsieh at 0549706552.
• Jerusalem Churches plan to issue a public statement concerning the 1948 ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) for the Palestinian people.
• Bil’in, a Muslim-Christian community cut off from its land by the Separation Barrier, will hold an international conference, June 4-6, as part of on-going protests against the barrier’s route.

Capitol press conference, parish kits

Inter-church planning groups are active in Canberra, Melbourne and elsewhere. Peace and justice offices of the Uniting Church, Catholic Church and others are involved including World Vision Australia.

• Australian heads of churches will hold a press conference at Parliament House at the start of the action week in Canberra, issuing a joint statement on national policy.
• An action week information kit for nationwide distribution, designed for people new to the issue, will offer joint church statements, Jerusalem prayer, action week message It’s Time for Palestine and more.
• NCC Australia adopted its first-ever resolution on the conflict, an example of on-going worked linked in part to the annual action week.
• Pray, educate, advocate and public action ideas are available on-line for parish and community planning nationwide.
• Various groups are planning prayer and education events.
• Several heads of churches in Australia held a joint visit with the ambassador of Israel (2/08), a follow-up in part to last year’s action week.

• Pax Christi is distributing the action week message and prayer to members and parishes.
• There will be a special service in Linz during the week, with Lutheran and Reformed churches invited.

• 2000 subscribers of Kairos receiving Invitation to Action, the Jerusalem prayer and the It’s Time for Palestine message — plus request to join the action week.
• Basic information is on the Kairos website
• Some church groups are working on a multi-faith response.

• Message and prayer distributed widely in the Paris area by Pax Christi France.
• Action week materials have gone to a church Middle East network.
• Various Christian organizations are members of ‘Palestine Platform’ a civil society coalition organizing an event in Paris in May.
• 50 cities have new olive trees, planted in March with church organizations involved, as signs of hope for peace after 60 years of conflict.
• Christian leaders are meeting to decide further responses to the action week.

Multipliers at work

• Mission society is calling 23 partner churches in 10 countries – Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, South Africa and the Middle East – to take part in the week of prayer, education and advocacy, while staging public events in Germany with Palestinian and Israeli participation.
• Message and prayer for the week circulated to 15,000 subscribers of the Schneller mission magazine in Germany and Switzerland, and available online.
• Conscious of their ability to act, pastors in one area of southern Germany began organizing daily events for the action week after hearing about the initiative.
• Pax Christi Middle East Commission Germany has the ecumenical action week as the focus of a consultation in Bad Boll in June.
• The secretariat of Church and Peace International is holding a consultation on churches and the Israel-Palestine conflict during June, linked to the action week and the WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum.
• WCC member churches are considering further national and inter-regional involvement.
• Berlin photographer is offering photos to action week participants.

Three new steps for peace
• Prayer: Joining for the first time, 1200 parishes of the Reformed Church in Hungary have the Jerusalem Prayer for use on June 8 and at the church’s national synod.
• Advocacy: The church president has written the head of Hungary’s parliament, foreign minister, US and Russian ambassadors and the foreign policy chief of the EU stressing the need for a just peace.
• Education: Hungary’s first Ecumenical Accompanier, now in Israel-Palestine , is getting church-wide publicity leading up the action week.

Bringing peace prayer home from Shepherds Field
• Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican leaders will use the Jerusalem prayer and action week message in Ireland in June; they already did so in an ecumenical service at Shepherds Field, Beit Sahour, in April.
• The Church of Ireland (Anglican) has sent the prayer to every parish to include in the liturgical calendar.

Nine groups involved in church and on the street
Nine organizations are involved — Church of Norway, Christian Council of Norway, YMCA/YWCA, Friends of Sabeel, Karibu foundation, the Norwegian Church Academies and Norwegian Church Aid. Plans for the week include:
• Sunday, 8 June, congregations asked to focus church services on "Peace in Palestine and Israel". Norwegian versions of Jerusalem prayer and the It’s time for Palestine message to go to all congregations in April.
• Churches are being encouraged to invite former Ecumenical Accompaniers to speak.
• Congregations are being informed about the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum and its Amman Call, which provide a common platform for the action week and other church advocacy.
• A multi-religious "peace service" to be held in Oslo, with the action week message and Arabic and Jewish music.
• Saturday, 7 June: Hope to stage a public demonstration in Oslo organized by Ecumenical Accompaniers. May use Women in Black signs with "Stop the Occupation" in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Norwegian.
• Prominent Palestinian Church leaders will meet with politicians, during visits to Norway throughout the year.

Prayers, concerts and films
• Inviting congregations to join in the Jerusalem prayer and liturgy.
• Concerts in four cities by Palestinian-Dutch symphony will commemorate the 60 years since the ‘Nakba’ with Arab and Western classical music.
• Plan to launch youth website on Israel and Palestine.
• Invite congregations to see and discuss a Palestinian village film, Bil’in My Love.
• Screening of documentaries from Israeli points of view of the conflict has church-related sponsorship.
• Pax Christi IKV is taking part in the action week.

Pax Christi International:
For members and leaders
• The Invitation to Action, message and prayer have gone out to some 100 member organizations around the world.
• Pax Christi leaders from Europe and North America will participate in the action week during a June 5-6 meeting in Antwerp, Belgium.

Jamming for peace
• Youth Café on June 7 will mix singing and jamming with peace discussions among young people from four national church and interfaith associations.
• After the café there will be a public prayer vigil using the Jerusalem prayer and It’s time for Palestine message, sponsored by four national Catholic and Protestant groups.
• Film festival on Palestine will target public audiences with features and documentaries.
• Action week prayer and message are going to all members of National Council of Churches in the Philippines.
• Leading up to the week, 300 Filipino children will see films and hear stories about Palestinian children; the group, from poor families who are refugees or victims of extra-judicial killings, will then send cards, drawings and letters to children in Palestine.
• Activities are seen as part of a long-term strategy to form Palestine solidarity groups in schools and churches. Participation in the week is linked to local struggles and informed by a visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

South Africa:
• Church leaders meeting received the four-action plan. Details pending.
• South Africa Council of Churches executive committee has held discussions also.
• Ecumenical Accompaniers, active in previous action weeks, likely to participate again.

• Swedish translations of Jerusalem prayer, It’s Time for Palestine message and other materials are going out to parishes for the action week.
• Participation of former Ecumenical Accompaniers is being sought.

Sri Lanka:
Solidarity informed by experience
• The Reconciliation and Peace Desk of the Church of Ceylon is working to educate parishes about Israel-Palestine.
• Jerusalem prayer is being shared with all parishes of the same church, which writes that Palestine and Israel are "very much in our thoughts and prayers".

• EPER (Swiss Protestant Aid) supports the week and is preparing for the 60-year commemoration of the Palestinian ‘Nakba’/catastrophe of 1948.

United Kingdom:
• All Scottish parliamentarians, MP’s from Scotland at Westminster and church leaders are invited to the launch of the action week, hosted by the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Palestine.
• Action ideas are going to Scottish parishes from an advocacy network of Action of Churches Together in Scotland.
• A full-sized section of the Wall is planned at one Scottish parish in a city center; it is to stand for three weeks.
• Jerusalem prayer is going out to Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed and Quaker congregations.
• 40 priests led by a former Archbishop of Canterbury brought the action week prayer and It’s Time for Palestine message home for parish use, after a visit to Jerusalem.

United States:
Various plans are in motion. Details pending.
World Vision International:
• Endorses the initiative and the action week message "It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace".
• Seeking opportunities to contribute to the hope for peace, justice and reconciliation and to support those caught in the conflict including Palestinian and Israeli children to achieve a dignified life.

World Council of Churches:
Convenor of the action week
• The message It’s Time for Palestine, the Jerusalem prayer, news, advocacy policies and an Invitation to Action are available on the WCC website in English, French, Spanish and German.
• Translations of the It’s Time for Palestine message and the Jerusalem prayer are also available from national participants (above) in Arabic, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian.