|Mission Grants Support Peace and Justice in the Holy Land|
By Elliott Wright*
New York, NY, December 16, 2008--Recent grants from the General Board of Global Ministries underscore the United Methodist commitment to peace and justice in the Holy Land.
A group of eight grants assist a range of ministries among Christians and Palestinians, primarily benefiting children, youth, women, and families. Many United Methodists have visited some of these partners while part of the Holy Land mission trips in recent years. Two grants are for projects in Bethlehem.
The funds are from endowed funds designated by donors for mission among Palestinian women, youth, and children. All were approved or confirmed by Global Ministries' directors in October.
"We waited to highlight these allocations until the Christmas season in order to point to acute human needs in the very area where Jesus was born and lived," said the Rev. Jorge Domingues, a Global Ministries executive. Rev. Domingues headed the unit making the grants at the time they were approved.
One recipient of $10,000 is the Refugee Community Initiative of BADIL, an organization in Bethlehem concerned for the rights of Palestinian refugees, including those for decades in camps in Bethlehem, Hebron, and Beit-Jala. "BADIL" is an Arabic word meaning "alternative"; the organization goes about its work through education and the peaceful resolution of issues facing long-time refugees.
Another $10,000 is for a wastewater treatment facility in rural communities near Bethlehem. Children are particularly susceptible to diseases borne by contaminated water. The Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem is carrying out the water program with support not only from Global Ministries but also from other religious organizations. The Mennonite Central Committee, an agency of one of the historic "peace churches," is among the supporters.
The United Methodist Church has a long-standing policy of support for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, respectful of the political and human rights of the people of Israel and Palestine.
The youth program of the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, called "Sabeel" ("the way" in Arabic), received $20,000 to foster leadership skills and a sense of self-esteem among Palestinian young people. Palestinian Christians make up only two percent of the population of Israel/Palestine today. Many of the young people served by Sabeel are in Galilee and the town of Nazareth.
A grant of $10,000 assists the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, which provides preventive and crisis services to children, women, and persons who are victims of torture and violence in the densely populated Gaza strip.
The Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza City received $10,000 for educational and health services. The Jerusalem Infant Welfare Center, a community-based health clinic in the Old City, also received $10,000.
The money for the Global Ministries grants is from a donor-designated fund administered by the mission agency. The Angeline Newman Fund for the Middle East and Palestine is an extremely old mission endowment produced by the sale of property in Jerusalem, with the proceeds set aside for mission in the region. The property had housed a school for Palestinian children, and the donors wanted the money to continue to serve that population.
The other two grants are:
Grants awarded from the Newman Fund total $100,000.
A related grant of $4,000 went to the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Christians for a three-year leadership-training program for young women in Aiya Napa, Lebanon. This sum is from the Robinson Fund, set up in 1988 to honor the parents of Sue Robinson, a long-time Middle East executive with Global Ministries.
Earlier in the year, an allocation of $5,000, confirmed by Global Ministries directors in October, was made to the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, an organization based on equal rights and international law that the mission agency helped to organize seven years ago. Several successive quadrennial general conferences, which legislate for the church, have called for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. This appeal was repeated at the 2008 General Conference. That conference also voted by an overwhelming majority to reject a petition from an individual that sought to have Global Ministries withdraw from the campaign.
*Elliott Wright is the information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Dec 16, 2008