Saturday, August 27, 2016

ELCA Resolution on Palestine / Israel: What Does It Mean for Us?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has passed a resolution concerning justice in Palestine / Israel. What should Lutherans do?


ELCA delegation visits the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
during January 2015 pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  
(Details at Metro Chicago Synod Working Group on Middle East site.)


I was at a meeting yesterday and we were discussing the upcoming trip of some church folk to the Holy Land, and the question came up: "How will their plans change to reflect the resolution on Palestine / Israel passed at the ELCA churchwide assembly a couple of weeks ago?"

In particular, the ELCA resolved: "To urge this church’s members, congregations, synods, agencies and presiding bishop to call on their U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in existing U.S. law, stop settlement building and the expansion of existing settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, end its occupation of Palestinian territory, and enable an independent Palestinian state" (Emphasis added - read the full resolution below.)

The simple answer, of course, is "read the resolution, think about it, pray about it, discuss it with others (inside and outside your church community), and act faithfully."

Here are a few more specific suggestions for people to think about in the months ahead:

The next few months . . .  As you gather with other congregants returning from the summer and starting the fall season of gatherings and activities, ask, "Have you read the resolution? What does it mean to you? What are we called upon to do?"

Advent and Christmas - As we think about what it meant that God responded to our expectations by entering the world in the flesh, consider how to take up the words of the resolution concretely. What does this have to do with the here and now? Can we relish what happened in Bethlehem two thousand years ago without being deeply concerned about, and taking action on, what's happening in the lives of real people living in Bethlehem today?

Time after Epiphany - For many of us in the US, this time is referred to as "those long winter months." Take the time to read a book that sheds light on the ELCA resolution. (How about Faith in the Face of Empire by Mitri Raheb?)

Lent and Easter - A time to repent -- "turn around." Join with others in your congregation, conference, synod, and churchwide, as well as those of other church bodies and other faiths to carry out a brand new behavior toward Palestine / Israel. Move from just being "with them in spirit" to being with them in practice.

Time after Pentecost (know to some as "summer vacation") - Will you be traveling to Palestine / Israel next summer? Consider how your itinerary and trip objectives will faithfully respond to the ELCA resolution.

The suggestions above are just food for thought.  Other suggestions? Add them as comments below!


Related posts

Can there be any more clear illustration than the one at left to remind us that the work of the Church is liberation?

(See Christian "Church"? How about Christian "Liberation Organization"? )









Just imagine the effect of qualifying the usual blanket statements about "what Jews think" or "what Jews say" with specifics about which Jews are under discussion. I believe 2015 will turn out to be the year that people everywhere begin to tease apart the the notions of "Jewish" and "unconditional supporter of Israel."

(See The End of the Myth of Monolithic Jewish Support for the Actions of the Israeli State )





To be sitting in Berkeley and seeing in front of my eyes the spreading of this idea that started in Texas and was nurtured in Philadelphia and got agitated in Chicago felt like a real Pentecost moment.


(See Decolonize Lutheranism -- A Northern California Installment






Full text - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) resolution on Palestine / Israel - August 2016 
(retrieved from http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Legislative_Updates_for_the_2016_Churchwide_Assembly.pdf on August 27, 2016)

ASSEMBLY ACTION
YES-751; NO-162
CA16.05.13

To receive with gratitude the memorials of the Northwest Washington, Sierra Pacific, Southwest California, Rocky Mountain, Minneapolis Area, Southwestern Texas, Southeastern Iowa, South-Central Wisconsin, Southeast Michigan, Indiana-Kentucky, Metropolitan New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Upper Susquehanna and West Virginia-Western Maryland synods related to Israel and Palestine;

To reaffirm the commitment of this church to:

1. Continue its awareness-building, accompaniment, and advocacy on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine;
2. Take steps to assist the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and other Christians in sustaining their endangered presence in the Holy Land;
3. Promote the economic empowerment of Palestinians, including investment in Palestinian projects and businesses;
4. Promote the protection of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis and oppose all violence and actions which discriminate against or deny any people their basic freedom, dignity or human rights;
5. Embrace the principles of restorative justice as part of the ELCA’s advocacy and engagement for the just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and actively seek ways to support Palestinians and Israelis engaging in restorative justice dialogue and other projects; and
6. Continue to pray for the ELCJHL and the work of The Lutheran World Federation Jerusalem program;

To encourage this church’s members, congregations, synods, and agencies as well as the presiding bishop to call on the U.S. President, in coordination with the United Nations Security Council, to offer a new, comprehensive and time-bound agreement to the governments of Israel and Palestine, resulting in a negotiated final status agreement between Israel and Palestine leading to two viable and secure states with a shared Jerusalem;

To urge this church’s members, congregations, synods, agencies and presiding bishop to call on their U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in existing U.S. law, stop settlement building and the expansion of existing settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, end its occupation of Palestinian territory, and enable an independent Palestinian state; and

To encourage this church’s members, congregations, synods, and agencies to call on the U.S. President to recognize the State of Palestine and not prevent the application of the State of Palestine for full membership in the United Nations.