PITTSBURGH (ELCA) — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is committed to supporting a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine and took measures to ensure that commitment Aug. 17 during the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly here.

The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, met here Aug. 12-17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The theme for the assembly was "Always being made new." This year marks the 25th anniversary of this church.

Voting members considered a series of proposals — known as memorials from the ELCA's 65 synods — throughout the week. With an 812 to 45 vote, voting members approved a memorial designed to continue this church's awareness-building, accompaniment and advocacy on behalf of peaceful resolutions in the Middle East.

The action commits this church to learning more about the experiences of both Palestinians and Israelis and their mutual fears, aspirations and hopes; work to convey the concerns and perspectives of Israelis and Palestinians that dispel stereotypes and caricatures and promote better understanding; lift up the voices within both communities, especially those of victims of violence, that seek peace with justice through nonviolent responses to the conflict; continue to help alleviate the humanitarian needs; support U.S. funding that promotes peace and cooperation for all parties; and to continue to pray for brothers and sisters in the Middle East and for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

The action also calls for evaluating possibilities for investing in specific Palestinian economic endeavors and other projects that would promote peace and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians; and to provide a report with recommendations to the April 2014 meeting of the ELCA Church Council.

During the week, voting members received greetings from the Rev. Munib A. Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, former secretary General, World Sikh Council – American Region.

Prior to the churchwide assembly, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson joined 29 other Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry welcoming his "announcement on July 19 that agreement has been reached 'that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.'"  The leaders said they "are committed to mobilizing broad public support for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for peace," offered their prayers for his efforts and said they are prepared "to activate members of synagogues, churches and mosques across the country to support bold American leadership.

By: ELCA News

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