One of the most important ministries of our diocese is the ministry of dialogue and reconciliation between the different faith communities: Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
On the day of his enthronement, Bishop Suheil announced the establishment of the Diocesan Department for Peace, Reconciliation and Interfaith Dialogue.
Connections for Peace
Along with the establishment of Kids4Peace, other projects have also been developed across the Diocese.
Our parish in Zebabdeh (St. Matthew's Episcopal Church) has established the Zebabdeh Youth Group for Peace and Reconciliation to explore a sense of identity for young people, in the context of a shrinking Christian community in the Holy Land, by connecting with students abroad and in their own community.
Various trips have taken place to encourage a sense of connection with other communites. Sixteen young people from the village of Zebabdeh went to Ireland to connect and make friends with sixteen young Irish people from Ballinteer Community School in Dublin.
As well as learning about the society of Ireland, through music, film, and visits to places of historical and cultural interest, the group, based at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, engaged in the process of creating, exchanging, and exhibiting a scrapbook on their faith and action in their respective communities.
Programmes like these are very important for the youth of our diocese and we are very grateful for any initiative and support to develop further programs of this kind.
If you wish to learn more about and support 'Connections for Peace', please contact email@example.com for more information.
As member of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which is an interfaith group composed of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders from the Holy Land, Bishop Suheil was invited by the State Department in Washington D.C. to participate in significant interfaith meetings there, aimed at furthering the cause of Arab/Israeli peace.
Throughout these meetings, Bishop Suheil met with U.S. religious leaders, and members and staff of the House and Senate. The Council, made up of 15 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders of the Holy Land, is engaged in peace-building initiatives designed to decrease violence in the region and create an open dialogue for peace.
Upon their arrival in the United States, the Council issued a statement listing six areas on which they would work together, including efforts to secure open access to the Old City of Jerusalem for all communities, and seek a common vision for the city of Jerusalem which all three faiths regard as holy.
This is the full text of the statement:
All of us believe in one Creator and Guide of the Universe. We believe that the essence of religion is to worship Him and respect the life and dignity of all human beings, regardless of religion, nationality and gender.
We accordingly commit ourselves to using our positions of leadership, and the influence of our good offices, to advance these sacred values, to prevent religion from being used as a source of conflict, and instead serve the goals of just and comprehensive peace and reconciliation.
Our respective Holy Places have become a major element in our conflict. We lament that this is the case, as our respective attachments to our holy places should not be a cause of bloodshed, let alone be sites of violence or other expressions of hatred. Holy places must remain dedicated to prayer and worship only, places where believers have free access and put themselves in the presence of the Creator. Holy places are there for believers to draw inspiration to strengthen their acceptance and love of Almighty and all His creatures, from all religions and all nationalities.
Accordingly, each religious community should treat the Holy Sites of the other faiths in a manner that respects their integrity and independence and avoids any act of desecration, aggression or harm.
We, believers from three religions, have been placed in this land, Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is our responsibility to find the right way to live together in peace rather than to fight and kill one other. Palestinians yearn for the end to occupation and for what they see as their inalienable rights. Israelis long for the day when they can live in personal and national security. Together we must find ways of reaching these goals.
Towards these ends we are actively working to:
- Establish “hot line” procedures of rapid communication among ourselves in order to address and advise government officials regarding issues of protection of and access to Holy Sites before such issues become cause for conflict.
- Establish mechanisms to monitor media for derogatory representations of any religion, and issue statements in response to such representations.
- Together reflect on the future of Jerusalem, support the designation of the Old City of Jerusalem as a World Heritage Site, work to secure open access to the Old City for all communities, and seek a common vision for this city which all of us regard as holy.
- Promote education for mutual respect and acceptance in schools and in the media. We will sponsor a conference for Israeli and Palestinian educators, academics and Ministers of Education on “The Role of Religion in Educating for Peace: Principles and Practices.”
- Demonstrate through our relations that differences can and should be addressed through dialogue rather than through violence, and strive to bring this message to our respective communities and political leaders that they may embrace this approach accordingly.
- Provide ongoing consultation to our government leaders, and through the example of our work together remind them that the interests of one community can only be served by also respecting and valuing the humanity and interests of all other communities.
If you wish to learn more about and support these Interfaith Meetings, please contact Bishop Suheil Dawani under firstname.lastname@example.org