Lutherans in Minnesota

Christians seek way to just peace in Holy Land

To what are Christians called in the quest for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis? Responses to that question will be central to a conference at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, October 29-30.

Huwaida Arraf, Palestinian American who will speak at the October Sabeel conference in St. Paul, is pictured during a presentation in November 2002 to internationals preparing for non-violent direct action supporting villagers in the occupied West Bank. The internationals, including a group of Lutherans from Minnesota, spent several days with Palestinians near Jayyous harvesting olives and protesting Israeli security barrier then under construction on Palestinian farmland. Arraf, a Detroit native, was co-founder of the Palestinians’ International Solidarity Movement and chairs the Free Gaza Movement.

Some 300 Minnesota church members are expected to meet under the theme “One Land, Two Peoples, Three Faiths — Time for Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace.” The conference is planned around the vision of Sabeel, the international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. It is sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America, with more than 30 Minnesota church groups as co-sponsors.

A variety of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders will make presentations on both theology and politics of Israel/ Palestine peace-seeking. Among the highlights will be a keynote talk by Naim Ateek, Anglican priest who is founding president of the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem.

Other presenters scheduled are Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian American Christian who chairs the Free Gaza Movement; Mark Braverman, Jewish American who probes the role of religious beliefs in interfaith discourse on Israel/Palestine; Dr. Don Wagner of Chicago’s North Park University, a specialist in Christian Zionism; and Dr. Fouzi Slisli, faculty member at St. Cloud State University, who will explore Islamic political cultures among Palestinians.

Cindy and Craig Corrie will present the peace-building activity of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, which they established after their daughter was killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer as she protested its demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah, Gaza.

Work opportunities in the Holy Land, both short- and long-term, will be shared by a panel of Minnesota church persons who have recently served there.

The conference will run Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. Cost for the event (two meals included) is $90; $45 for students. Friday only or Saturday only (with one meal) is $45. For more program details and to register, go to www.fosna.org/.

Co-chairs for conference planning are a pair of ELCA Lutherans, Kathy Adam of Plymouth, Minnesota, and Lynne Rigg of Red Wing, Minnesota. Rigg, a retired pastor, notes that “Sabeel means ‘the way’ in Arabic. And we expect the conference will help us find our way from peace talking to peace acting.”

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