JERUSALEM – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and her delegation visited the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land from Sunday, January 11th, 2015 to Sunday, January 18th, 2015.
In her visit, she was able to visit the Lutheran schools to see their holistic mission. Children at both the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour and Dar Al-Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem welcomed the Bishop and her delegation with songs and dancing. The delegation toured the Environmental Education Center where the delegation was able to learn more about the center’s ecological projects and bird ringing. The Environmental Education Center created the first bird ringing center in Palestine and during her visit, Bishop Eaton was given the chance to release a bird back to the wild.
The delegation toured Augusta Victoria Hospital, a ministry of the Lutheran World Federation, visiting children in the Pediatric Oncology Unit and viewing the general work of the hospital. The Augusta Victoria Hospital is the only oncology hospital for residents of the West Bank and Gaza. The group also toured Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts & Culture, which has been supported by the ELCA and is a ministry of the ELCJHL.
Bishop Eaton was also able to visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, the newest church of the ELCJHL, built at site where it’s believed John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan was built in part with the help of an ELCA Mission Investment Fund.
During her visit, Bishop Eaton addressed a gathering of the ELCJHL pastors and the Church Council saying, “This is a relationship that is deeply important to us.”
She spoke about the hope that she saw in the ELCJHL’s ministries saying, “When I think of people, Christian brothers and sisters, who are in situations that seem hopeless and they have hope, they give me hope. This church is a source of hope for me when I think there can be no hope.”
Before leaving, Bishop Eaton preached at a joint Arabic and English Speaking Service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem.
Bishop Younan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan in the Holy Land would like to thank Bishop Eaton for her visit, the support of herself and her church, and for the past, present, and future accompaniment.