Since 1948 the Christian population of Palestine has decreased dramatically, from an estimated 20% to just 2%. Palestinian church leaders fear that the Christian presence in the Holy Land is under severe threat and their churches are at risk of becoming little more than museums.
In 2001, Palestinian church leaders requested the WCC to ‘Come, see and tell’ – experience the reality of life under military occupation and share the story, encouraging international governments to take action.
In 2009 the thirteen Jerusalem Heads of Churches endorsed the call of the Kairos Palestine statement for the worldwide church to take peaceful action against the oppression and injustice suffered by Palestinians.
The Kairos Palestine document includes the following:
“Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace.”
The Churches of Palestine and the international Christian community, represented primarily in the World Council of Churches, have asked us to be involved in working for peace in Palestine and Israel.
Other Palestinian organisations which have spoken out on the situation in Palestine-Israel include:
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, working under the vision of “Local Christians inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ stand for the oppressed, work for justice, engage in peace-building”, which organises biennial conferences on topics related to the conflict and the pressures on Palestinians under occupation
The Bethlehem Bible College, which organises the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences and which “aims to strengthen and revive the Christian church and support the local Christians in the Holy land, in order to combat this growing Christian exodus.”
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (a signatory to the Kairos Palestine document), is also involved in supporting the Palestinian Christian presence and recently issued a statement, noting with other faith groups, that “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.”
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