of Christ the King Church, Santa Barbara and St. Andrew’s Church
Ramallah met for three days, July 1-3, 2013 to focus on the future of
Christians in the Holy Land utilizing the unique Faith-Based
Reconciliation process. Our deliberations also included the Bishop of
the Diocese of Faisalabad in Pakistan who described the plight of
Christians in Pakistan.
indigenous Arab Christian population in the Holy Land is disappearing
owing to a combination of factors that create a pervasive climate of
insecurity and hopelessness. In 1978 the Christian population in the
Holy Land was 25 – 30 percent of the total. Today Christians are 1.6
percent of the population.
Discerning the Root of the Problem
conversations in the small groups we sought to move beyond describing
symptoms of the problem or jumping forward to propose solutions before
we ever defined the problem. The root of the problem seems to be
complex involving five major elements:
The Israeli Part of the
Clearly a significant part of the problem
is the Israeli “occupation” which has two aspects: settlements and
checkpoints. Their combined effort is to express the politics of anger;
the anger of the State of Israel toward Palestinians particularly for
the second intifada and the violence.
The Palestinian Political Part
of the Problem
The Palestinian Authority is riven with
rampant corruption and has lost the confidence of their own people,
particularly the youth. This has led to a feeling that nothing will
change because too many politicians benefit from the status quo.
The Islamic Part of the
There is increasing pressure on
Palestinian Christians by the Islamists in the Muslim community to
convert to Islam. There are many expressions of disdain toward
Christians by the Islamists. At the same time any Muslim who considers
embracing Jesus Christ will suffer social ostracism or worse.
Arab Christians in the Holy Land are
living in a neighborhood (the Middle East) that is being increasingly
radicalized by the Islamists and Jihadists. This puts pressure even on
moderate Muslims to adopt a more hard line posture toward Christians.
The Western Christian Part of
The Christians from the United States and
Europe and the Arab Christians of the Holy Land have a complicated
relationship with each other. Although we have a common bond in Jesus
Christ there are frequently walls of hostility between us owing to a
number of factors. The longstanding affinity between American
Christians and Israel is a source of angst for Arab Christians. What
particularly concerns them is the various stands of Christian Zionism
that seem to give indiscriminate and uncritical support to the policies
of the State of Israel. The frequent intervention of the United States
in the Arab/Muslim world, particularly the war in Iraq has put Arab
Christians in the line of fire by angry Muslims.
The Palestinian Christian Part
of the Problem
Although the Arab Christian community
traces its roots back to the time of Christ it is not uncommon that many
Arab Christians are “Christian” in their family identity but lack a
vital personal faith in Jesus Christ. Hence, their understanding of the
faith is more institutional in nature. What is needed is personal
conversion and empowerment with the Holy Spirit that gives them an inner
A second part of the problem is a lack of
vision. What is their divine purpose and calling in the Holy Land at
this time and with these realities?
Plan of Action
As partner congregations who find our common
bond in Jesus Christ we pledge to do the following together:
We will work together to
foster revival amongst Arab Christians in Israel and Palestine.
CTK will conduct a Life In The
Spirit Seminar for Episcopal youth from the West Bank in 2014
We will work together to
empower Israeli and Palestinian Arab Christians to be a reconciling
bridge in the Holy Land among the Abrahamic communities.
We will plant the vision of
Faith-Based Reconciliation in the heart of St. Andrew’s so that it
becomes a common shared vision between us.
CTK will conduct a Faith-Based
Reconciliation workshop for the leaders and members of St. Andrew’s in
We will have online virtual
meetings between the Vestry of Christ the King and the Pastoral
Committee of St. Andrew’s.
We will begin a Christ the
King/St. Andrew’s Facebook.
We will bring a group of youth
from St. Andrew’s to Christ the King in 2014.
We will send two CTK teams to
St. Andrew’s in 2014.
St. Andrew’s will establish a
partnership core group.