Jerusalem, Israel – UEM Asia conducted its Joint Program entitled, Pastor for Peace among Indonesian UEM member churches on 16 - 24 August 2017 in Israel. Ten pastors from HKBP, HKI, GKPS, GKPI, GKPA, GKPPD, GBKP, GPKB, GKJTU, and GKJW attended the program. In the closing devotion, we collected the amount of IDR. 650.000 and 9$ for the United Action.
The participants are actively engaged in peace-making ministry in their communities. They are working in areas of conflict or conflict-potential and have attended the basic training on conflict management or conflict resolution.
We chose Israel as the venue for two concerns: (1) It offers visit to different biblical lands that can enrich the pastoral ministry for our peacemakers; and, (2) For its ongoing struggle with Palestine that began in the mid-20th century and referred to as the world’s “most difficult conflict”, with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching 50 years - violence remains a threat, security becomes a prime concern for both.
In general, the exposure provided an on-site experience and in-depth reflection among selected peacemaking pastors and lecturers on inter-religious dialogue to develop effort in overcoming religious radicalism. The objectives of the program are the following: to train and develop pastors in their involvement to peacemaking by mobilizing their church’s faith spiritual, material and human resources in response to the call of Jesus Church to be peacemakers in their present context.
After the program, the pastors would be able to do trainings and make plans of action on peacemaking in their own congregations and/or communities; and, participate in peace advocacy and conflict transformation in their own churches and communities.
In achieving the objectives of the program, we had lectures on various topics such as: the History and Presence of the Israel State; the role and function of Nes Ammim in Israel; Theological meaning of Judaism and Islam from a Christian Perspective; Islam in Israel as related to Judaism and Christianity; peacemaking from the Christian Perspective; Theological meaning of Christianity and Islam from a Jewish Perspective; hermeneutics of the Torah; combatant for peace from Israel and Palestine; study exposure with Rabbis on human rights and on human rights violations; and, Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding in Israel. The lectures were delivered by Rabbis, Muslim lecturers, and Christian Theologian.
We had exposure trip to East Jerusalem and West Bank to study the root of conflict between Palestine and Israel and learned about the efforts to solve the conflict. We visited to various places accompanied by qualified facilitators.
At the East Jerusalem City Tour with Ir-Amim. The tour guide was Eldad. Ir-Amim (City of Nations or City of Peoples) is an NGO in Jerusalem that focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli – Palestine conflict. The mission of Ir Amim is to render Jerusalem a more equitable and sustainable city for the Israelis and Palestinians that shares and helps secure a negotiated resolution in the city through sustained monitoring, analysis, public and legal advocacy, public education and outreach to re-orient the public discourse on Jerusalem.
At the West Bank – South Hebron Hills with “Breaking the Silence”. The tour guide was Yehuda Shaul. He is a veteran Israel soldier and founder of “Breaking the Silence”. This organization was established in 2004 by a group of veterans who collect and publish testimonies from soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza since the start of the Second Intifada. The aims are to raise awareness on the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories; and, to stimulate public debate about the moral price of military control over a civilian population and of ongoing occupation. The facilitator exposed problems of land grabbing by Israeli state in Ma’on Farm, Susiya Village, and Um al Kher.
In Bethlehem, we visited to Diyar Consortium on getting to know the role of Arab-Palestine Christianity as the peacemaker in mid Palestine-Israel conflict.
Also, we went to various Biblical sites like: sea of Galilee, visited to Church of Heptapegon and Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter Mensa Christi; in Hazor – City of Israelite kings (Yosua 11:10); and, traveled to Safed – Classical Judaism visit of two old Synagogues; Basilica church in Narazeth, the town of Jesus; in the Mount of Beatitudes, for the morning devotion through a meditation on the hill, lead by Rev. Batara Sihombing and read Matthew 5-7; in Capernaum - the village of Jesus Christ and the Petrus House; in Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity; in Jericho- the “oldest city” in the world and the Jericho of the New Testament; in Hisham - Palace and Dead Sea. In Jerusalem, we visited the West Wall and Temple of Mount, the Church of the Redeemer and walked along Via Dolorosa towards the church of the Holy Sepulcher, to Gethsemane; and, visited the Muslim cemetery at the East wall.
We visited the old Mosque in Akko, the Ancient Synagogue and ate lunch in Beit Alfa Kibbutz, synagogues in Safed; and, to Yad Vashem – Memorial for the Victims of the Holocaust.
Also, in Jerusalem, we attended the English Church service at the St. John Chapel (Church of the Redeemer) and had dinner with Provost Wolfgang Schmidt (EKD). We discussed with him about the involvement of the Israeli churches as peacemaker in the country.
We had opportunity to attend Shabbat, evening devotion at the Reformed Synagogue and had dinner in 3 Jewish families (Kiddush) in Jerusalem.
The most important lessons learned from the participants were: (1) gained better understanding on the social reality and roots of conflict between Israel and Palestine; (2) knowledge on the Biblical sites and facts to improve in doing theology and reading the Bible in new perspective; (3) reminded about the major task of the church as the peacemaker; (4) learned about Judaism and its similarities with Christianity and Islam; (5) discovered the core meaning of peace based on justice; (6) the importance of being consistent and strong identity in doing dialogue; (7) the importance of creative resistance; and, (8) on improving the knowledge and skills in becoming peacemakers.
The participants committed to implement their action plans, such as: (1) conduct capacity building program on peacemaking and conflict resolution; (2) publish an article about the exposure; (3) include topic on peacemaking and conflict resolution in catechism, trainings, pastor meetings, lectures; and (4) the participant from HKBP proposes to conduct similar study-exposure program for HKBP pastors.
In regards with financial matter: (1) The participants/churches provided financial assistance for their passports, visa costs of participants, and pocket money; (2) UEM Asia shouldered international travels, board and lodging, transportation at the venue and honorariums for resource persons.
Reported by Rev. Petrus Sugito, Deputy Executive Secretary Asia Department of UEM