Grace’s Middle East Working Group (MEWG) is focused on education and mission relating to Israel and Palestine. We seek to inform ourselves and the congregation of the history and issues that have prevented peace in the Holy Land. We seek ways that we can act for the furthering of peace.
Inspired by a 2006 Pilgrimage to the Holy Land led by Revs. Jay Click and Susan Wilder, MEWG sought to partner with a church in Palestine. On November 25, 2007, Grace entered into a partnership with two sister congregations, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Nablus and The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rafidia, both on the West Bank. Ignored by most Christians in the West and living amidst a predominantly Muslim population, Palestinian Christians feel isolated. During the 2008 Pilgrimage the Pilgrims were able to visit our sister congregations. Their priest, Father Ibrahim Nairouz, told us the significance of our coming was that we broke their isolation—they are no longer alone. The vision statement signed by both congregations can be read through this link.
Grace and its partners continue to work together to bridge the distance and build bonds through visits. In 2009, Father Ibrahim and six Elders, four women and two men, from St. Philips and Good Shepherd visited Grace. In 2010, three women from Grace visited Nablus to work at a weeklong camp for Christian children. After two years of preparation, Grace hosted seven Palestinian youth and Father Ibrahim to participate with Grace youth in the TriCity Work Camp in Petersburg, VA during the summer of 2012. TriCity is an interdenominational work camp attracting Christian teenagers from seven states who come together to show God's love by building wheelchair ramps and repairing homes. The week of work was followed by a week of fun, continuing to build the friendships started by working together.
Revs Click and Wilder will be leading a third pilgrimage to Israel and the West Bank 23 April through 4 May, including Palm Sunday (Orthodox) with our partners in Nablus.
For lively discussion and a chance to get involved, all are welcome to attend the meetings of the Middle East Working Group, usually on the third Thursday of each month. Contact Susan Wilder, chair, for more information. Suswilder@aol.com or (703) 913-5913.