This latest letter takes a markedly different approach to the situation in the Holy Land. In fact it is so different that I hesitated a long time before plunging ahead.
This latest letter takes a markedly different approach to the situation in the Holy Land. In fact it is so different that I hesitated a long time before plunging ahead. For four years I have written of my experiences, my observations, and my reflections on the land of Israel-Palestine and its people and the conflict which threatens to devour all who are touched by it. The only thing I have asked of you is that you consider a different perspective on things than you normally receive through the popular media. Then you have been urged to share your views with the people who make our nation’s decisions. This time, however, I am presenting a need and an opportunity to help. Please know that this is a one-time detour off the path I have followed these months. I ask your indulgence and your attention. Next month I return to my more familiar form of communication.
As most of you know, my work in the Holy Land was part of the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land [ELCJHL]. When I first arrived, I knew literally nothing about how things worked. One of my first requirements was a reliable printing operation where I could secure business cards, worship bulletins, letterhead, and the like. It took only one question to find precisely what I sought. In the basement of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem’s Old City sits a print shop. Its expert staff—consisting of one pretty amazing woman—produces materials for all of the ELCJHL: congregations, schools, administration, plus numerous other entities. Its output is in Arabic, English, German, a smattering of other languages, and a bit of Hebrew. When large projects are underway, other administrative staff pitch in at times to cut, collate, fold, and staple, for, you see, once the press has poured out its pages, the remainder of the operation is done entirely by hand. There were days when I would stare in amazement at the heaps of publications—from booklets to brochures, from reports to re-prints—which just a wink of time ago were stacks of blank paper stock. More than once the thought came to me of how much could be accomplished if only we could provide essential new equipment and update the serviceable incumbents. Then, in spite of the certainty of checkpoints impeding the way to work for the staff and the all burdens and uncertainties that the occupation imposes on people who labor in and for the church, at least the scope of the work could grow tremendously. So much, if only…
Now I must confess that I am often prone to lament what is not, while my wife Anne is likely the one to say, “Sure. We can do that.” So, beginning with a conversation she had with our friend and colleague, Pastor Mark Nelson of Minneapolis, the Redeemer Print Project was born. Now a joint undertaking of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry [LPGM] and Global Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [GM-ELCA], we have high hopes that a new print operation can be up and running in Jerusalem late next spring! The total price tag is $30,000.00 and the money has already started to come in. However, we are well aware that there are so many worthy efforts, so many requests for our gifts, and so many responsibilities on each of us that any single proposal needs lots of supporters. Both LPGM and GM-ELCA have a multitude of projects all around the world. And so this one must find its own path to completion. Because of my deep and abiding concern for the well-being of all the people—including the church—in the Holy Land, I decided to let you know of this opportunity to share your gifts where I am absolutely certain they will do immense good.
Not only will the Project provide new collator, stapler, and folder, as well as a modern, up-to-date computer system and other equipment, but it will bring hope where there is despair and could even lead to one or more new jobs among a people who so sorely need them. What a Christmas gift it would be if we are able to let the Church in Jerusalem know by the end of the year that the Print Project will actually happen!
If you decide to help, you can contribute on-line at www.lutheranpartners.org by designating your gift for the “Holy Land Printing Room Renovation Project.” If you would rather send a check, use the same designation on the check, make it out to Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry, and mail it to
Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry
122 W. Franklin Ave., Suite 518B
Minneapolis, MN 55404.
LPGM is acting on behalf of itself and the Global Mission Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and will forward all donations to the ELCA. If you would rather make your gift directly to the ELCA, make it out to “ELCA” and mark on the memo line “Level ?: Holy Land Printing Project. Mail the check to
ELCA Global Mission
ATTN: The Rev. Twila Schock
8765 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago. IL 60631-4101.
If you know me, you may well know that asking for money probably ranks just ahead of handicrafts on the list of things I try to avoid. I hope that gives you an indication of how much I believe in this effort. Thank you for your willingness to listen, and, I hope, to help.
Russell O. Siler, Retired Pastor