Peace Not Walls: Advocacy for Palestine
The ELCA Peace Not Walls exhibit came to the campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) in early December to share the story of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) campaign to bring “positive peace” to the Holy Land. The campaign is part of a greater effort which brings together Israelis, Palestinians, and international workers in an effort to bring long term peace and justice to the area, which is connected to the traditions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Karin Brown, Coordinator of the Peace Not Walls campaign, presented a convocation to give background and and context to the Peace Not Walls exhibit. Karin, born in Jerusalem to parents who were then working for the Lutheran church, returned to the region after college to work for the World Council of Churches, and lived and worked in a small village in Palestine in an effort to end injustice and protect human rights. While there, she saw the hardships and challenges facing Palestinians who lived and farmed in the area.
Brown, using illustrations and videos to show the background and allow people from the region to tell their stories, presented the 50-year history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the context in which troubles have developed. Illustrative of the occupation are the barriers — walls and fences — which Israel has erected to separate people living next to each other in the region.
She explained that the work is designed to bring dignity and human rights to all people of the region, and that the ELCA, working with partners including the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land and the Lutheran World Federation, can have an impact on that effort. In a land where the vast majority of the population is Muslim, with Christians making up only one to two percent of the population (and Lutherans only a small percentage of the one to two percent), the Lutheran church is making an impact. Five churches are in the region, along with schools, hospitals, and more, provide health care, vocational training, and education to Palestinians, bringing together people regardless of their backgrounds and faith traditions. Educational efforts are especially important to help children learn about others around them who might be different from them in race, ethnic background, faith tradition, and other ways, helping to build understanding of “the other.”
Brown noted that the campaign, as the poster that opens the exhibit shows, is to bring Accompaniment by being in Palestine with the people, Awareness Building in ways like the Peace Not Walls exhibit, and Advocacy through actions all can take, all in the goal of bringing justice and true peace to a region that is important to many faith traditions. She suggested several things we all can do:
- Visit the Peace Not Walls exhibit as it travels
- Take time for prayer, especially on the 24th of each month, which is set aside for an international prayer vigil for peace
- Explore and become involved in Peace Not Walls
Watch a slide show from the convocation and exhibit: