St. Columba's Episcopal Church

Peace Fellowship

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Select the Ministry Leader Directory from the Quicklinks menu at the top right of any page on our website, and you’ll get an alphabetical listing of all the ministry groups at St. C’s.

This group’s vision is to help one another to live our baptismal covenant: to strive for justice and peace in the world and to respect the dignity of every human being. The Fellowship joins Washington National Cathedral's congregation, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the larger Episcopal community and others to sponsor lectures, readings and activities that promote peace and justice. Please contact Peter Hildebrand (peacefellowship@columba.org).

A subgroup of the Peace Fellowship, the Middle East committee, supports Anglican humanitarian efforts in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere. The groups also works for justice and peace in the region through established advocacy programs in the diocese and beyond and assists in educational efforts for churches in our area. For more information about the Middle East subgroup, contact Lee Porter (ameliep@comcast.net).

Four members of the Middle East subgroup of the Peace Fellowship man a display at Washington National Cathedral.

8th Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service at the Cathedral

Episcopalians and Lutherans will participate in the 8th annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem on Sat., Dec. 20 at 10 am. Prayers, readings and hymns alternate between the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem via the Internet. More information and live streaming.


"Children of the Light" at the Cathedral

On Wed., Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, at 7 pm in the Perry Auditorium, the Cathedral congregation's Palestine Israel Advocacy Group will show "Children of the Light – Desmond Tutu’s South African Story." Dr. Judith Mayotte of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre and Leadership Academy, Cape Town, South Africa, will offer personal observations following the film. The film is free and open to the public.


Courses of Spirit and Faith
on the Holy Land

Tuesdays: 7-9 pm  (Sept. 30, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28)

St. Columba's Peace Fellowship presents:
Israel/Palestine: Exploring through Film How Two Peoples Can Share the Holy Land
This five-class course (2 hours per session) will explore through film the history of the conflict and the efforts of Palestinians and Israelis to find a solution. The films include two 2012 Academy Award nominees for best foreign documentary, one Israeli and one Palestinian, and three films featuring the personal stories of those from both sides on their experience of the conflict, non-violence resistance, and thoughts on how they can survive and find a way to live together. This series will be led by Ann Loikow, a longtime member of St. Columba's who has been active in the work of the Peace Fellowship and Diocese's Companion Diocese Committee with the Diocese of Jerusalem.

Register


A National Service of Mourning

In remembrance of those who have died in Palestine and Israel in the current conflict, a service of mourning will be held:
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 6:00 PM
Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th St., N.W. (between G St. and H St.), Washington, DC 20001
(Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro Station--Red, Green and Yellow Lines)

The loss and suffering resulting from the latest conflict between the Israeli military and Palestinian groups in Gaza is staggering. More than 1,400 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced. Weeks of overwhelming destruction have devastated land, homes, and infrastructure. The siege of Gaza and the military occupation of Palestinian territory cripple normal life. As the people of the region cry, “How long, O Lord”?, we join our prayers with theirs in a service of worship. In the midst of sorrow and grief, please join us in a witness to faith, hope and love.


American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: Update #4 July 29, 2014

The only power plant in Gaza has been destroyed. As a result, 1.8 million people in Gaza have no power, no running water, and no sewage treatment. Disease is sure to follow. The bombing continues, and conditions worsen for Al Ahli Hospital and their heroic staff. Reports say that 72 United Nations schools, hospitals, and offices have been damaged in the fighting in Gaza. There are 11 full service hospitals in Gaza for 1.8 million people. Two have been destroyed and several are badly damaged. Several UN clinics are also destroyed.
Urgent Al-Ahli Hospital Updates

- A portion of the outer wall of Ahli Hospital has been destroyed.
- The main steam line into the hospital has been damaged.There is now no hot water.
- Large pieces of shrapnel have hit patients' rooms and the laundry facility. There is an immediate need for repairs to ensure patient safety.
- Suhaila Tarazi, Director of Al Ahli, reports that 40% of her staff are unable to get to the hospital because of dangerous conditions, personal injury, or family crisis. She has had to find replacement personnel to attend to the wounded, costing additional funds. The doctors, nurses, and support personnel who are there have been working nonstop for two weeks - providing compassionate care to all.

Al Ahli has generators to provide power to critical areas such as operating rooms and the emergency room. But they need fuel to run. The cost of fuel rises each day, and with the power plant destroyed, they are completely dependent on their generators and their capacity to pay for the fuel to run them. The suffering is acute, as is the shortage of supplies and medication. Hospitals and clinics are working together to share supplies, personnel and whatever they can to provide the best care possible.

Thanks to your generous support, Ahli Hospital will have financial resources to get supplies and badly needed medications. Your generosity is part of $115,000+ AFEDJ is able to send to Ahli Hospital - with more expected to come. Thank you to each and every donor for making this possible. The Rt. Rev. Barry Howe, Chair of AFEDJ's Board of Trustees, spoke for us all when he said, "we're  so very grateful for the outpouring of support at this critical time. 100% of each gift goes to those who are suffering and to support people who are ministering to their needs. The Episcopal Church is there to offer healing and the embrace of compassion to all God's children."

As more families are turning to the Hospital for care and now shelter, hundreds of people are relying on Ahli Hospital and on our important financial support.

Please consider a gift now: online or by mailing a check to AFEDJ at: 25 Old King's Highway North, Suite 13, Darien, CT 06820.

We are happy to report that St. Mark's Episcopal Church (Capital Hill), Washington, DC sent $4,500 and St. John's Episcopal Church Lafayette Square, Washington, DC sent $2,500 to support the work of the Diocese of Jerusalem's Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza.


Statements of World Religious Leaders on Military Intervention in Syria

Members of the Peace Fellowship compiled this list of statements of world religious leaders on the issue of whether to militarily intervene in Syria and educated parishioners on the issue during the coffee hour in September 2013. Each title below is a link to a statement.

September 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
General Secretary, World Council of Churches
Interfaith Group of U.S. Christian Leaders
President, National Association of Evangelicals
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Pope Francis, Letter to Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit
Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church USA
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
President and General Secretary, Lutheran World Federation
Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Jerusalem Patriarchate, Orthodox Church
Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Peace with Justice Unit, Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Rabbis and Jewish Leaders from the Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Traditions
Jim Wallis, Sojourners
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Daoud Nassar of the Tent of Nations

Daoud Nassar, A Palestinian Lutheran, who has spoken several times at St. Columba's, spoke at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland on June 9, 2013 and at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Virginia on June 23, 2013.

The Nassar family farm is located near Bethlehem, between the Green Line and the Wall, and is surrounded by Israeli settlements. Daoud studied for the Lutheran ministry in Germany before switching to hotel management and finishing his degree in Austria, then returning to the family farm in Palestine. Although they live under constant threat that their land will be confiscated, the family strives to maintain a haven of peace through their work with the Tent of Nations Project, a center for peace and local education. Visitors from all over the world, including many Israelis, come to discuss peace strategies, learn organic farming, teach at the Women’s Education Center in the nearby West Bank town of Nahalin, and lead activities during Youth Summer Camps.

In spite of threats from the Israeli Defense Forces and neighboring settlers, the Tent of Nations has become a place for pursuing a just peace through non-violent activities. At their front gate, a sign reads in three languages, “We refuse to be enemies.” St. Columba's Peace Fellowship, along with several other churches in the D.C. area, supports the work of the Tent of Nations through the sale of Palestinian free trade olive oil which has been sold at Reach Out for Christmas for the past several years. For more information on purchasing olive oil, contact  Ann Loikow (aloikow@verizon.net).

Speaker, Elias Chacour, April 10, 2013

On April 19, 2013, members of the Peace Fellowship joined the Palestine-Israel Advocacy Group of the Washington National Cathedral Congregation to hear Father Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and All Galilee, offer a presentation called "What are the things that make for peace?"

Archbishop Chacour has worked tirelessly for reconciliation in Israel and Palestine. He is the author of the books Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land and is a recipient of the World Methodist Peace Award and the Niwano Peace Prize for his work founding the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, which have more than 3,000 students and faculty, including Muslems, Christians, Druze and Jews. Click for more information.

Speaker, Cathy Sultan, March 21, 2013

Cathy Sultan, author of award-winning books on the Middle East and member of the executive board of the National Peace Foundation and the Interfaith Peace-Builders, spoke to St. Columba's Peace Fellowship on Thursday, March 21, at 7:30 pm, about her recent trip to Gaza. Cathy grew up in Washington, D.C., and now lives in Eau Claire, Wisc. She has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East, and brings a depth of historical knowledge and personal experience to an understanding of the region. She most recently visited Gaza in November 2012 on an Interfaith Peace-Builder's trip lead by Craig and Cindy Corrie, arriving just before Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud's eight-day bombing of Gaza began.

Cathy's first book, A Beirut of the Heart, One Woman's War, recounts the 14 years (1969–1983) during which she and her family lived in Beirut, including their experiences during the Lebanese Civil War. Her second book, Israeli and Palestinian Voices (2002–2003) was written during the second intifada and is her effort to understand the conflict and how it might be resolved. It is part adventure, part history and part travelogue bound together with interviews of ordinary people and peacemakers. Her most recent book is Tragedy in South Lebanon about the Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006. This book also incorporates extensive interviews with the often ignored civilians affected by the war, as well as with soldiers who fought on both sides.

Peace and Justice Resolutions Approved by 2013 Diocesan Convention

This year's convention theme was "Equipping the Saints" so that we as individuals, parishes and as a diocese are prepared to do the work of ministry and God's mission in the world. In her convention address, Bishop Mariann Budde talked eloquently about how to equip the saints of the diocese so that we can grow and thrive and fulfill our Biblical call to strive for justice and peace. The Rev. Dwight Zscheile gave the keynote speech in which he discussed how to grow the church by realizing God's mission for the church to reclaim our identity as learners and practitioners of God's way and be witnesses of the gospel through word and deed.

The convention approved two resolutions. The first was introduced by Tom Johnson, chair of the Companion Diocese Committee for Jerusalem, Maureen Shea, a delegate from St. Mark's and a former head of the Church's Office of Government Relations, the Rev. Nan Hildebrand, Ascension, Gaithersburg, and Ann Loikow, a delegate from St. Columba's, on peacemaking in the Holy Land. We believe that the church there deserves our support and that the cession of violence by all, the lifting of the blockade and siege of Gaza and the end of occupation are necessary steps towards building a solid foundation on which a just and lasting peace can be built. The resolution specifically encourages parishes to take advantage of the educational materials and courses developed by the Companion Diocese Committee; urges members and parishes to support the efforts of the Diocese of Jerusalem to serve the people of the diocese and, in particular, the Diocese's Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City; calls for a complete cession of all hostilities and acts of violence by all parties to the conflict and the end of Israel's blockade and siege of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank; and directs that the resolution be forwarded to the President, select Congressional leaders, the Presiding Bishop and the Church's Executive Council. Last year the General Convention approved a resolution (B-17), co-sponsored by Bishop Mariann, calling on the Church to support the Al Ahli Hospital. The Executive Council has previously called for an end to the occupation and the blockade of Gaza. The resolution was amended on the floor which added some redundancies.

Franklyn Malone, a delegate from Our Saviour, Brookland, and a member of the Diocesan Standing Committee, the Rev. Nan Hildebrand, Ascension, Gaithersburg, and Ann Loikow, a delegate from St. Columba's, introduced the second resolution approved that followed up on a resolution last year's convention approved endorsing statehood as the way to give the residents of the District of Columbia the same right to self-government as that other Americans enjoy. The General Convention approved a resolution recognizing the disenfranchisement of the residents of D.C., even though they bear all the burdens of citizenship, and supported their right to enjoy the same rights as other Americans. However, instead of clearly endorsing statehood as the most effective remedy, the convention focused on D.C.'s lack of a vote in Congress, largely ignoring the complete lack of state sovereignty, and supported a number of alternate actions, including statehood, of varying effectiveness. This year's resolution reiterated our endorsement of statehood for D.C. and asked the Executive Council, when implementing the General Convention's resolution, to give appropriate deference to the opinion of the Diocese and the people of D.C. who have repeatedly stated a desire for statehood.

Click to learn more about the resolutions.

Health Care as a Human Right, Nov. 4, 2011

On Fri., Nov. 4, 2011 at 7 pm, the St. Columba's Peace Fellowship welcomed Dr. Ruchama Marton, a practicing psychiatrist and founder of Physicians for Human Rights—Israel (PHR—Israel), and Dr. Allam Jarrar, Director of Community- Based Rehabilitation for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) in the northern West Bank. They discussed health care as a human right and the Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations that are building cooperation and coexistence between both peoples.

Both PHR—Israel and PMRS are non-profit, non-governmental organizations that are working on the front lines to provide health care.

PHR—Israel operates an open clinic in Tel Aviv for those without access to care within Israel, largely immigrant workers and a mobile clinic in the West Bank and has played a central role in the struggle by human rights organizations against torture in Israeli detention facilities. In 2010, Dr. Marton accepted the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm, also known as the "alternative Nobel Prize," on behalf of PHR-Israel.

PMRS operates 26 primary health centers in the West Bank and Gaza which emphasize prevention, education, community participation and empowerment. Dr. Jarrar is also a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), an umbrella organization comprising 132 member organizations working in different developmental fields.

Both doctors have devoted their careers to working for the right to health care for all people in Israel and Palestine.

Speaker, Richard Forer, Sept. 27, 2011

Richard Forer delivers a presentation in the church nave. Photo: Peace FellowshipRichard Forer, an American Jew and author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion—A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, spoke to the St. Columba's Peace Fellowship on Tues., Sept. 27, at 7 pm in the church nave. Though not a religious Jew, Forer had been a loyal defender of Israeli policy all his life. When friends resisted his views, he began an intensive study of the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. With an uncompromising commitment to the truth, he went far beyond his original intention, discovering that the true root of conflict is the attachment to a limited identity and the beliefs and images that emanate from that apparent identity. His book is both a gripping account of his intensive search to understand this conflict, culminating in a spiritual transformation in which he recognized the common humanity of all of mankind, and a masterful and comprehensive study of the conflict itself.

Prayer Vigil, May 24, 2011

The Companion Diocese Committee held a prayer vigil in support of Jerusalem Bishop Suheil Dawani on Tues., May 24, at 11 am in Taft Park, opposite the U.S. Capitol (at the Union Station end). Bishop Dawani’s Jerusalem residency permit was not renewed by the Israeli government in September 2010, and he and his family are at risk of being expelled from Jerusalem. The vigil was timed to coincide with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Speaker, Raja Shehadeh, April 28, 2011

On Thurs., April 28, the Peace Fellowship sponsored a presentation and reading by Raja Shehadeh, a human rights lawyer and author of a new book, A Rift in Time: Travels with My Ottoman Uncle. Raj also wrote When the Bulbul Stopped Singing, Strangers in the House, and Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape. He trained as a lawyer in London and is a founder of the human rights organization Al-Haq. He lives in Ramallah, on the West Bank. The Orwell Prize, which he won in 2008 for Palestinian Walks, is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. It is awarded annually for the book, journalism and (since 2009) blog which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition "to make political writing into an art."

His latest book was inspired one night while waiting to be arrested by the Palestinian security police. His grandmother told him about a journey taken by his great-uncle to escape the Ottomans. He decided to follow his great-uncle's path and write about the trip. Determining the route was complicated by Israel's erasure from all maps of the Palestinian names for the villages and other places his great-uncle had visited. The trip itself was extremely difficult because the landscape has been distorted by the Israel's demolition of pre-1948 Palestinian villages, many of which are now national forests, and construction of the Wall and checkpoints and the addition of national borders that didn't exist during the Ottoman era.Click here to read an excerpt from the first chapter.

Speaker, Mark Braverman, March 31, 2011

On Thurs., March 31, from 7–9 pm, Mark Braverman spoke to the Peace Fellowship on the role of Christian churches in bringing peace to the Holy Land. Mark is author of Fatal Embrace: Christian, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land. He is a Jewish American with deep family roots in Jerusalem. He grew up in the United States and was reared in the Jewish tradition, studying Bible, Hebrew literature, and Jewish history. He traveled to Israel and Palestine in 2006 and was transformed when he saw the occupation and met with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and civil society leaders. His book is the result of his struggle to reconcile his faith with reality and his search for a way to bring peace with justice to the region. Click for more about Mark and his work. Mark had previously spoken to the Peace Fellowship in January 2009.

Speaker, John Ross, March 14, 2011

On Mon., March 14, at 7:30 pm, the Peace Fellowship sponsored a presentation by John Ross of the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights. Ross is a human rights advocate and intern at the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights. From August 2009 to June 2010, he taught English to Palestinian Christian and Muslim students in the Bethlehem area and lived with Palestinian and Jordanian seminarians at the Latin Patriarchal (Catholic) Seminary of Beit Jala, Palestine. While in Bethlehem, he also worked with the Stop the Wall Campaign in its efforts to protect Palestinian farmers from attempts by the Israeli Army to evict them from their land. He accompanied Palestinian farmers, helped them cultivate their fields, and acted as a human rights witness. Prior to his time in Palestine, he studied International Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He spoke about his experiences in Bethlehem and his current work on behalf of Palestinian human rights.

Legislation: Peacemaking in the Holy Land

On Jan. 29, 2011, the 116th Convention of the Diocese of Washington approved a resolution on peacemaking in the Holy Land sponsored by William J. Prather, Chair of the Companion Diocese Committee, and Ken DeCell, a St. Columba's lay delegate, who introduced it on behalf of the St. Columba's Peace Fellowship. The St. Columba's Peace Fellowship drafted the resolution, which was modeled on resolutions approved by other dioceses and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.

Because of the Oct. 25, 2009, partnership agreement signed by our bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Chane, and the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Bishop of Jerusalem, to establish a three-year companion relationship between the Dioceses of Washington and Jerusalem, which was approved by our Diocesan Council on Jan. 12, 2010, the Companion Diocese Committee, Bishop Chane and Bishop Dawani were all consulted for their input on the final resolution. Six St. Columbans accompanied Bishop Chane on his October 2009 pilgrimage to Jerusalem to witness the signing of the Companion Diocese partnership agreement and have participated in the Companion Diocese Committee and its subcommittees.

The Convention, by approving the resolution, encourages the parishes of the Diocese to educate themselves about the broader mission of the Church, in the words of the Executive Council, to "promote peace for all God's people" and that "the creation of peace with justice is a compelling priority for the Church and for the United States of America."  The Dioceses of Maine, California and Western North Carolina approved similar resolutions last fall.

The explanation for the resolution notes that silence on world issues affecting peace and justice is an unacceptable phenomenon for a Church that claims that its mission is to promote peace for all God’s people. Jesus did not sit silently on the sidelines when confronted with injustice and conflict. Silence is reinforced by lack of reliable information and by a reluctance to talk about controversial things in church. Speaking without adequate information and discussion is also unacceptable behavior for the Church or any of its congregations. At the heart of the Christian faith are teachings about how to resolve conflict peacefully. Being involved in this issue does not necessarily mean expressing support for one side or another, but rather participating in serious thought and discussion that identifies the relevant issues and seeks to bring understanding that leads to action supporting a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict.

In approving the resolution, the Diocese joins other Dioceses and the Executive Council, as well as other major Christian denominations, in urging the United States government and the President, in keeping with our ideals as a nation, to redouble their efforts to pursue a fair and balanced approach to peacemaking between Israel and Palestine. In the resolution, the Convention also acknowledges that the shared values among the Abrahamic faiths expressed in our Baptismal promise to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being" are consistent with American ideals of equality, justice and human rights.

The St. Columba's Peace Fellowship invites interested parishioners to join us in planning a series of educational events to implement this resolution. Together we can learn, pray and act to promote a just peace for the peoples of the Holy Land. For more information, please contact Peter Hildebrand or Ann Loikow at peacefellowship@columba.org.

Top photo: Courtesy of Lois Herrmann


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