Signs of hope amid challenges
Bishop Suheil and Mrs. Shafeeqa Dawani address General Synod 2010
Strengthening and deepening the partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has become a priority for the Anglican Church of Canada. On the second full day of General Synod 2010, members heard first hand the challenges facing people in the Holy Land and how hope and witness has sustained them in their faith and ministry.
Known as bridge-builders among all faith traditions, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and his wife, Mrs. Shafeeqa Dawani, who is involved in the leadership and development of women's ministries in the church, both addressed the members of General Synod.
Bishop and Mrs. Dawani's visit to General Synod comes following Archbishop Fred Hiltz's solidarity visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in August 2009. The visit was the result of a resolution passed at General Synod 2007. Bishop Dawani and Archbishop Hiltz both spoke fondly of the experience.
"I have a deep appreciation for your church's presence, prayers, support and commitment to the Diocese of Jerusalem," said Bishop Dawani who expressed appreciation for the Primate's visit and his willingness to, "witness every step and movement of people suffering."
Bishop Dawani spoke of the challenges and suffering in Jerusalem today noting that Christians are leaving the region out of fears for their safety and the barriers experience when trying to participate in work, worship and everyday life.
"All aspects of life are challenged," said Mrs. Dawani, "and the violence is tiring."
"Local Christians are finding their way to places where they are safer," said Bishop Dawani, "which lessens the number of Christians in the region."
Amid these struggles, the Bishop and Mrs. Dawani spoke of the signs of hope they see in the affected region. "Challenges continue," said Bishop Dawani, "and yet we are a people who overcome challenges with the love of Christ."
The bishop expressed hope in the work of medical and health institutions in the region. The situations in these institutions continue to be difficult, he noted, but staff show great leadership amid challenges.
"We are a people of hope and your commitment in helping keep that hope alive is as important now as it ever was," expressed Bishop Dawani.
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, a diocese of the worldwide Anglican Communion, extends over five countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, within the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. There are 27 parishes ministering to the needs of surrounding communities and the church supports 33 institutions including hospitals, clinics, kindergartens and schools. The Anglican Church's Diocese of Ottawa is currently exploring the possibility of establishing a companion relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
Members of General Synod 2010 will have two resolutions to consider in the coming days. The resolutions, titled "Strengthening Partnership with Diocese of Jerusalem" and "Peace and Justice in Palestine and Israel," call on the church to engage in a formal strategy of prayer, education, and strengthening relationships for peace, along with advocacy to the Canadian Government and a review of statements on the status of Jerusalem and other issues which confront the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths for examination and reflection by members of the church.
The resolutions model a similar resolution passed by the Anglican Church's Full Communion partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, at their 2009 National Convention.
Over 350 delegates and special guests have come from coast to coast to coast across Canada for this nine-day event, which takes place each triennium. Further details and highlights are available online at www.anglican.ca.