More than 30 HCEF Leaders, including the Board of Directors, Advisory Board Members, Staff, Volunteers and Supporters convened for an exciting and productive leadership retreat on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Held at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, participants of all ages joined us from all over the country, sharing their various skills and expertise to promote peace and justice in the Holy Land.
After an opening prayer by Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Human Development at Georgetown University,Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS, HCEF President/CEO, and Christine Hill Hobbi, HCEF Board Member, opened the retreat with an inspiring call to action to advocate for Palestine’s Christians. They thanked event participants and stressed the importance of the leadership retreat as a critical element in strategizing HCEF’s future direction and support for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.
Dr. Saliba Sarsar, HCEF Board Secretary and Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives at Monmouth University, shared a deeply moving presentation focusing on HCEF’s core values as the path for putting faith into action. He detailed the experiences of his own family and others living in the Holy Land, and the threats Christians still face to the free practice of their faith. Dr. Sarsar noted the special need to remember Christianity’s “Living Stones” during the Lenten Season, encouraging us to pray for the Holy Land and raise awareness about the current conditions in Christianity’s birthplace. He stressed HCEF’s role as a bridge between peoples, its dedication to peace and justice and the role it plays in providing for Christians in the Holy Land.
Dominic Cardone,2012 Chairman of the National Association of REALTORS®, led a workshop on the basics of Fundraising for HCEF staff and volunteers. Mr. Cardone stressed the importance of developing an effective fundraising strategy in growing the work of HCEF in the future.
Honored guests and Advisory Board Members HE Bishop Barry Christopher Knestout Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washingtonand retreat host Dr. David Renwick, Senior Pastor of the National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC reflected on the positive change HCEF promotes in the Holy Land, and the multiple ways the organization connects Christians in the West to their Mother Church.
Christine Hobbi spoke about the ways great leaders have inspired collective action in the past, leading a brainstorming session about ways to encourage others to join HCEF and promote its mission. Retreat attendees broke out into small groups to share personal stories of their involvement with HCEF and explore ways to inspire others to work on behalf of Holy Land Christians.
The retreat closed with a spirited discussion aimed at developing the theme, topics, and speakers for the upcoming HCEF 16th International Conference which will be held Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Washington Marriott, 1221 22nd Street, Washington, DC. The retreat attendees finished their day with a dinner party allowing participants to continue networking and sharing with one another. HCEF is energized by the enthusiasm of its supporters and volunteers and looks forward to putting faith in action.
|Abigail Galvan and Michelle Munjanattu HCEF staff at the dinner party