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 in the furthering of peace.
Inspired by a 2006 pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by Pastor Jay Click and the Reverend Susan Wilder, the MEWG sought to establish a relationship with a church in Palestine. On November 25, 2007, Grace entered into a partnership with two congregations, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Nablus and The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rafidia. Ignored by most Christians in the West and living amidst a predominantly Muslim population, Palestinian Christians feel isolated. During the 2008 pilgrimage the Grace 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 no longer felt alone.
Grace and its partners continue to work together to bridge the distance and build bonds through periodic visits. In 2009, Father Ibrahim and six elders, four women and two men, from St. Philip’s and Good Shepherd visited Grace. In 2010, three women from Grace traveled to Nablus to work at a weeklong summer camp. After two years of preparation, Grace hosted seven Palestinian youth and Father Ibrahim for a week of participation with Grace youth in the 2012 Tri-Cities Workcamp in Petersburg, Va. Tri-Cities 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. The 2013 Grace pilgrims experienced life in Nablus in a two-day home visit. In July of 2014 Grace hosted women from our sister congregations for the purpose of exchanging information and views on the roles of women in the church.
A young adult trip to Israel and Palestine is planned for June 20 through July 1, 2015. 18-28 year-olds are invited to join this educational and inspirational pilgrimage.Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, visiting the sites of his life and ministry, participants will reflect on what it means to be Jesus’ disciples and peacemakers in God’s world today. The group will meet with local Israelis and Palestinians to learn about present-day life in this land and to hear their hopes for the future. The trip will include a visit to Grace’s Nablus partner church where we will join them in worship and help with their children’s summer camp. We’ll also spend a day working at Tent of Nations, a Palestinian farm and peace center near Bethlehem. Contact Rev. Susan P. Wilder at email@example.com. Registration deadline is March 15, 2015.
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. For more information, contact Susan Wilder, chair: firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 913-5913.