Carlisle Diocese passes historic motion endorsing the Kairos, ‘Cry for Hope’ in support of Palestinian Christians.
On Saturday 9th of October 60 members of the Church of England gathered together under the leadership of the Bishop of Carlisle, The Rt Revd James Newcome for their autumn Diocesan Synod meeting. Members included clergy and lay people. On their agenda was a motion passed by Solway Deanery, calling on the Church of England to be more proactive in its support and solidarity with Palestinian Christians.The motion, presented by Solway Deanery member Valerie Hallard, read as follows:
That This Synod:
• Endorses the “Cry for Hope” expressed by Palestinian Christians and the ‘Global Kairos for Justice’ coalition (GKfJ);
• Requests that the Faith and Order Commission produce a report which analyses and refutes any theological justifications, for example, those promoted by some Christian Zionists, for the oppression of Palestinians;
• Instructs the Ethical Investment Advisory Group to provide guidance to the National Investing Bodies (NIBs) and Dioceses that will enable them to screen their investments and thereby make decisions regarding engagement with, and divestment from, companies which profit from the occupation.
Valerie Hallard proposed the motion during the Diocesan Synod meeting and gave a powerful address, highlighting the ongoing injustices and the deteriorating situation in Palestine. She quoted directly from Cry for Hope in which Palestinian Christians describe their situation as ‘beyond urgent’ and that as Christians ‘we have come to the end of the illusion that Israel and the world powers intend to honour and defend the rights of the Palestinian people to dignity, self-determination, and the fundamental human rights guaranteed under international law’.
During the debate that followed, several members of the Synod expressed support for the motion, speaking about the importance of challenging injustice, not being silenced on this issue, and how it could be used to set a precedent for the Church to challenge situations of injustice across the world.
The Bishop of Carlisle gave a short speech of support during which he described that during a visit to the Holy Land, a former female solider in the Israeli Defence Forces had spoken powerfully against the occupation and the actions of the Israeli military in how they treated Palestinians.
The debate was followed by a vote, in which the motion was passed unopposed. This vote has historic consequences for the Church of England.
Firstly, and perhaps of greatest importance is that the Carlisle Diocese offers a beacon of light and hope to the Palestinian Christian community, being the first Diocese to officially endorse the Cry for Hope.
Secondly, this motion will now proceed to General Synod, where it will be debated in due course. Although this may be some time away, it will be the first time in many years in which the Palestinian cause has been raised in a significant way in the national decision-making body of the Church of England.
Following the Synod meeting, proposer of the motion on behalf of Solway Deanery, Valerie Hallard said the following;
“I have been humbled by the resilience and hospitality of Christians who have been present in the land since the time of Christ. They are living in the face of discrimination and hardship, and I see it as the duty of the church to amplify their voice in the face of so much that seeks to silence it.”
You can watch the full debate during the Carlisle Diocesan Synod meeting, from 1.46 hours.