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.