Thursday, February 25, 2016

Report to the Presbytery of Carlisle February 2016

Bridging the Great Divide: Israel and Palestine

As citizens of the world who seek peace, as American Christians and as Presbyterians it is vital that we continue to pray for and seek to understand the difficult and multifaceted concerns of the Middle East. Our beautiful Psalm 122 encourages us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem “. Our meeting of the General Assembly in June 2016 will, once again, consider important recommendations concerning our church’s response to these concerns.

At the meeting of our Presbytery this Tuesday, February 23, the Rev. Dr. Bill Harter distributed an important, new resource concerning the Middle East and our Presbyterian response. The resource is provided by the organization Presbyterians for Middle East Peace and is titled, Two States for Two Peoples.  This resource is available electronically at their website,

For me, it is vital that we make every effort, when we ponder these profoundly difficult issues, to seek balance and a multiplicity of perspectives and viewpoints. Thus I also suggest that we ponder the work and the perspective of the PC(USA) Israel Palestine Mission Network. Their website is viewed at An important resource is available there: the study document Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide was written by the Mission Network for our congregations.

As Christians today it is also important to consider a viewpoint from Christians in the Middle East. An important document is Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, available electronically at, which was written by a group of Palestinian Christians. This has been an influential statement which has provoked wide discussion and strong responses across the spectrum.  There is now a Wikipedia page on Kairos Palestine which includes a brief description of some of the volatile debate and divisions around this document in the North American Churches.

For American Presbyterians, a helpful theological resource is Walter Brueggemann’s Chosen? In this short book, which includes study questions for church groups, Brueggemann brings his expertise as an Old Testament scholar into dialogue with these contentious issues today.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
   ‘May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
   and security within your towers.’
For the sake of my relatives and friends
   I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
   I will seek your good.   -
Psalm 122: 6-9.