Partnership with the Diocese of Jerusalem is emerging as an international priority for the Anglican Church of Canada. The groundwork was laid at the General Synod meeting, June 3 to 11, where in the presence of the bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, and his wife, Shafeeqa, members passed two related resolutions: one calling for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel, and another calling to strengthen the relationship with the diocese.
Now General Synod staff and volunteers are working to add practical programming traction to these statements of solidarity.
The Canada-Jerusalem relationship is not new. For decades, Canadian Anglicans have supported, travelled to, and studied in the diocese, a diverse area that extends over Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Syria.
It was the Primate’s August 2009 trip to the diocese that refocused the relationship. For 10 days, Archbishop Hiltz visited local churches and Anglican-run schools, hospitals, and clinics. He also made pilgrimages to several Christian holy sites.
The Primate also witnessed some of the diocese’s challenges, not the least of which involves working toward peace with justice in Palestine and Israel, even as many Palestinian and Israeli Arab Christians continue to leave the land.
The Primate was deeply moved. “I heard Bishop Suheil articulate a deep, deep desire that they not be forgotten,” said the Primate. “I thought of the psalmist’s call, to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem.'”
Prayer and action
Inspired by the Primate’s passion, General Synod’s Partnerships department began to translate this Biblical imperative into tangible action. A roadmap emerged in the form of Resolution A183: Strengthening Partnership with the Diocese of Jerusalem. Passed June 7 at General Synod, the resolution urged Canadian Anglicans to pray for peace, educate for peace, and strengthen relationships for peace. Several practical steps were offered for each point.
A new group of seven volunteers known informally as “The Canadian Companions of the Diocese of Jerusalem” will oversee the development of this work. The group is chaired by the Primate and staffed by Dr. Andrea Mann, global relations coordinator in General Synod’s Partnerships Department. Its focus will include
- Encouraging Canadian Anglicans to learn about the diocese and its history. The companions organized a lunch for General Synod members with Bishop and Mrs. Dawani.
- Advocacy support for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel through KAIROS networks: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and its local partners, including Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, Bat Shalom, and the Jerusalem Women’s Centre.
- Writing a “Pilgrim’s Guide to the Land of the Holy One,” using stories from the Diocese of Jerusalem. The Rev. Canon Maylanne Maybee, General Synod’s ecojustice coordinator, is currently working on this project.
- Fostering the new companion diocese relationship between the Diocese of Ottawa and the Diocese of Jerusalem. Currently Kerri Brennan of Ottawa is participating in General Synod’s Theological Students International Internship Program in Jerusalem.
- Supporting continuing education at St. George’s College, Jerusalem, where many Canadian Anglicans have received theological training. Several Canadians, including Bishop Michael Bedford-Jones of Toronto (retired) are involved with St. George’s North American Regional Committee.
With this work in place, the Primate hopes to deepen the relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Jerusalem over the next triennium.
“We all share a very old relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem,” he explained. “We share this relationship with many Christians and people of other faiths. As Bishop Suheil says, ‘there is room for everyone in Jerusalem.'”
For more information, email Andrea Mann, global relations coordinator, or call her at (416) 924-9199 ext. 265.
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