PYM’s Middle East Collaborative members, meeting on Sunday, July 5, 2020, welcomed and endorsed a joint statement by the American Friends Service Committee (USA), Friends Committee on National Legislation (USA), and Quaker Peace and Social Witness (England). The statement notes Friends’ long-term connection with the Middle East region, decries the proposed annexation, and lists serious outcomes which might arise should Israel act unilaterally to annex sections of the West Bank. The three organizations encourage Friends to: [Read more…] about Quaker Organizations Oppose Potential West Bank Annexation by Israel
Middle East Collaborative
On January 28th, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s General Secretary, Chrisite Duncan-Tessmer facilitated an Iran Crisis zoom call with support from the Middle East Collaborative. With over 20 Friends joining the call, we were delighted to welcome Friends from the yearly meeting, a Friend from Texas, and others from the Middle East Collaborative.
After worship and a brief welcome, Jim Fine, of the Middle East Collaborative and member of Bristol Meeting, provided members of the call with an informative overview on the history of Iran relations with the United States and other Middle East countries, relationships in the Middle East, and where things stand currently. Please read Jim Fine’s bio to learn about his extensive work on Middle East relations.
Starting today, PYM General Secretary Christie Duncan-Tessmer is currently traveling as a member of a delegation of the National Council of Churches to the Middle East. This ten-day trip includes visits with diplomats, politicians, church leaders, and activists in Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, and Palestine.
PYM will be posting periodic updates from Christie this week during her trip, to share what the NCC delegation is seeing and witnessing through our General Secretary’s eyes.
The US National Council of Churches (NCC) has relationships with sister organizations and faith communities around the world. This trip was planned to witness to peace in the region, and to draw attention to the critical issues that face the Middle East.
It follows a Consultation on the Holy Land held by NCC last year, bringing together religious leaders, grassroots activists, and civil society actors to enhance the churches’ knowledge of the current situation in Israel and Palestine.
The National Council of Churches defines six purposes for this delegation:
- To witness to peace in the region
- To engage in interreligious dialogue for peace and justice
- To express solidarity with Middle East Christians
- To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Occupation
- To build and strengthen relationships with regional partners
- To carry out fact-finding, observe the current situation, and explore opportunities for advocacy
These purposes speak to the Quaker Faith and the Peace testimony; our American Friends Service Committee, Friends Council on Education and the PYM Middle East Collaborative are all actively engaged in peace work in the region.
The NCC supports justice for Palestinians, and NCC’s traveling group of ministers has been well-prepared for their meetings with churches, advocates for social justice, and regional leaders. The NCC hopes to enhance ecumenical relationships that will lead to more effective faith-based advocacy for justice in the region.
PYM’s participation in this delegation is supported by the Quaker Life Council, PYM’s governance leadership, and other Friends who have been active in Middle East justice work. The PYM Middle East Collaborative issued a minute of support for this trip, including this message:
We wish Christie Godspeed as she seeks Peace and Justice in the US and the Middle East through her travel, visiting, questioning, and listening. We hope her trip will be fruitful and insightful and that she will have many opportunities to share her experiences upon her return.
Christie is also joined in this trip by the Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Diane Randall.
Planned Itinerary and Meetings
The delegation begins in Beirut on September 7th. It starts small, with just five delegation members, and grows to a group of twelve by the time the delegation arrives in Israel and Palestine. Meetings will include visits with the Middle East Council of Churches, US Consulates and Embassies, the United Nations office in East Jerusalem, and leaders in churches and governments. While the itinerary is not being published in advance, the delegation members are encouraged to share stories throughout the trip. Updates on the trip will be posted online throughout the trip and NCC will be posting to social media. The delegation returns to the US on September 16th.