Excellent Seminar in Jerusalem

The ICCJ was well-represented last week in Jerusalem’s Old City, at an intensive three-day workshop on “The Hermeneutics of Liberation.”

The workshop was convened jointly by Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (as well as President of the Lutheran World Federation) and by Rev. Barbara Rudolph and Rev. Dr. Volker  Haarmann, of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. Much appreciation must go to the churches for their generous support for this project.

Participating in the workshop were the present President of the ICCJ, Dr. Debbie Weissman; a former ICCJ President, Rabbi David Rosen; and the General-Secretary, Rev. Dick Pruiksma. All together, we were about 20: 5 Jews, inc. 4 Israelis; and the rest, Christians: Palestinian, European and American.  The aim of the meeting was to study together shared Biblical texts about the Exodus from Egypt and to explore their implications for today’s political and social reality. One morning we took a field trip to Ramallah, where we visited a Lutheran school, called “the School of Hope.” We were welcomed by a choir and folk dance troupe, of secondary school students. Ramallah gives the impression of being a clean, bustling and modern city, with many construction initiatives, including a new building for the school.

The Christians who participated in the deliberations were all Protestants (Lutherans, Baptists and others) except for the final dinner/reception, during which we were joined by a local Armenian priest. There was an atmosphere of good fellowship throughout, even as we discussed complex questions of identity and grappled with controversial political issues. This was based on mutual respect for different ways of interpreting sacred scripture. We hope to be able to publish at least some of our proceedings and perhaps also continue in this framework in the future.