Although our St. Mark’s pilgrimage does not “officially” begin until September 25th in Jerusalem, the truth is that we have been preparing for over a year. In good St. Mark’s tradition, we have spent time educating ourselves about the Holy Land and the Arab/Israeli conflict and we’ve invited the whole community to join us. This blog is an important part of that sharing.
Our speakers have included Amb. Philip Wilcox (Ret) director of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and former Counsel General in Jerusalem, and Aziz Abu Sarah who heads MEJDI Tours which attracted us because of its “dual narrative” approach, meaning we’ll have both an Israeli and a Palestinian guide.
We’ve explored peace making strategies with Rabbi Marc Gopin and heard first-hand about life for Palestinian Christians from Rev. Sari Ateek and Philip Farah. Rabbi Jack Moline gave us an American Jewish perspective of Israel. Corinne Whitlatch, former Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace and glass artist, and author Jane Geniesse shared cultural insights. Our own Lindsey Jones talked about her work in a Bethlehem refugee camp.
Peter Hawley maintained a lending library of books, DVDs, and CDs about all aspects of the conflict as well as taking us through a mini-version of a class on Steadfast Hope. Individual members of the group researched some of the Biblical sites we will visit.
Some of us will have read a lot, some of us will have not, some were able to attend all of the discussions, some only a few. And that is just fine. No matter how much any of us knows or doesn’t know, there will be much to learn individually and as a group.
When he learned he and Gretchen could not make the trip with us, David Willson wrote: “I wish you all a journey of peace, nourishment of the body and soul, enrichment, learning and understanding.”
That is our hope as well.