This past weekend, in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) held its annual meeting for 2012. There were representatives from Presbyterian churches all over the U.S. and from Canada – as well as Methodists, and United Church of Christ (UCC) pastors and lay persons in attendance. Sir Rateb Rabie, President and CEO of The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), attended the three day conference along with other representatives of HCEF.
He commented that it was “refreshing to see the group so passionate about their work after the 2012 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly mandate in July 2012” to “pursue a positive and creative course of action with respect to the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
IPMN calls for a “Just Peace” in Israel/Palestine and the organization includes several hundred Presbyterian members who seek to promote justice, security and peace in Israel/Palestine through various projects and initiatives. “There are many ways we can bring awareness of the human hardship and suffering that is taking place in Israel/Palestine. We can promote education on the issues and work to explore ways to bring an end to the occupation while promoting positive investment in the Palestinian economy,” said Christine Hill, a Presbyterian from the Grand Canyon Presbytery and HCEF’s Business Conference Coordinator. Sir Rabie and Ms. Hill participated in brainstorming break-out sessions to explore new ways to deepen Presbyterian involvement with Palestinian partners.
The three day conference included many speakers on current issues and proposed initiatives. They also worshiped together and prayed for a just peace in the region. The words from one of the prayers: “Forgive us when we forget that peacemaking means finding a third way without fighting or fleeing but instead pursuing justice persistently and nonviolently.” One of the speakers commented on how important it is to be in “truthful places NOT neutral spaces” with regard to this conflict. A concern that was repeated over and over again during the three day conference was that while positive investment in Palestine is a necessity, those investing in Palestine must be careful to choose investments that do not contribute to and/or prolong the occupation.
HCEF plans to continue working with the IPMN in future endeavors and looks forward to hosting several IPMN members and continuing the conversations at the 14th Annual International Conference November 9-11, 2012 at the National 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Visit the website of IPMN at http://www.theipmn.org/