Peacemaking tends to be more fruitful and lasting when undertaken discretely. Therefore, details of some ongoing Peacemaker projects and partnerships may on occasions be limited, especially in countries where minorities are experiencing persecution. Recent projects and partnerships include:
Projects in 2019
Keep Hope Alive: Olive Tree Planting in Palestine
One of the Five Marks of Mission widely adopted as an expression of contemporary Christian mission is “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”.
Stephen has just returned from participating in the Olive Tree Planting Campaign organised by the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA\YWCA in Palestine and the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG). The JAI-ATG Olive Planting Program, lasts for 10 days in February each year.
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, director of Jahalin Solidarity campaigns for the Bedouin community of Al Khan Alahmar in the Wadi Kelt region. Overlooked by the illegal Israeli colony of Kfar Adumim and facing a demolition order as well as occasional settler attacks, the 35 families seek to live and prosper on their historic lands they have lived on as refugees since 1952. Their school is made of mud and rubber tyres. Find out more about how you can support the Jahalin Bedouin here www.jahalin.org
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme are seeking participants for our Human Rights Programme in Palestine and Israel in 2020.
Continue reading →
Southampton Winchester Visitors Group
SWVG are a group of volunteers who befriend and support adult asylum seekers and refugees in the Southampton area. Stephen is presently undergoing training to become a visitor. SWVG seek to improve the lives of asylum seekers in the Southampton area and support those that are destitute. Find out more about SWVG here
Kumi NOW: Justice Together
Sabeel Jerusalem, in partnership with many other Palestinian and international organisations, have launched an initiative called Kumi Now – https://kuminow.com/
Each week the Kumi Now project will highlight a different organisation working to raise awareness about specific issues in Israel-Palestine, provide information about an issue of injustice through the stories of those effected, and promote a creative nonviolent advocacy action. The goal is to raise awareness on Palestine and exert pressure on the powerful decision makers of the world to do what is right in order to end the occupation and build a just peace.
Projects in 2018
FEEDING SUDANESE REFUGEES IN CAIRO
Every Sunday after church, Sudanese refugees in Cairo receive a simple meal. They get one or two sandwiches. We serve 6 churches from different denominations. In total about 850 people each week. Half of those are children. We do this because these people are refugees in Cairo and get very little help. It is also a small token of our love for them. And it encourages the community life of the churches.
Christ at the Checkpoint USA
It has been a delight to participate in the first Christ at the Checkpoint conference in the USA. Hosted by churches in Oklahoma City, the conference was attended by about 150 participants from the USA, Canada, Israel, Palestine and Europe.
The theme of the conference was “Exploring Holy Land Realities and our Response”. Subjects discussed through plenaries and breakout sessions included Palestinian Christianity in the Midst of the Conflict; Jewish and Christian Attitudes to the Conflict; Christian Zionism; Strategies of Nonviolent Resistance; and Promoting Peace.
THEOLOGICAL TEACHING IN KAGERA, TANZANIA
In January, Stephen visited Murgwanza in Kagera Diocese as a member of the Christianity Explored team to help train 130 lay leaders and youth leaders to use the course. Arising from that visit, Bishop Darlington Bendankeha invited me to return to Murgwanza to teach ordinands undertaking a three-year diploma course for ministry at the Diocesan theological college. Kagera is situated in north west Tanzania high on a ridge overlooking the borders of Burundi and Rwanda near the shores of Lake Victoria. It is one of the poorest regions of Tanzania. More than half the population live on less that $1 per day.
Christianity Explored Kenya and Uganda
At the invitation of Bishop Tim Wambunya, Bishop of Butere in Western Kenya, Jim, Brian and I travelled to Butere via Nairobi and Kisumu in September to train 50 lay pastors in the Diocese to use the Christianity Explored course. Bishop Tim’s aspiration is for all his lay pastors to receive the training.
Cyangugu Theological School, Rwanda
Stephen has just returned from a week’s teaching in Cyangugu, Rwanda. Bishop Nathan Amooti, the Anglican Bishop of Cyangugu, invited Stephen to teach a module on Judaism and Christianity at the new Diocesan Theological School, which opened in March.
Following the annual conference in Oxford on 30th June, Sabeel-Kairos UK have published Investing for Peace: A Guide for Local Church Activists.
This booklet outlines the Morally Responsible Investment Campaign. Read more here
Australian Lecture Tour
In March, Stephen was invited to give a series of lectures on a biblical perspective on Israel and the Church at several theological colleges, churches and conferences in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. He was also interviewed by several local and national radio stations and led the staff devotions for World Vision Australia. The tour was sponsored by Fighting Fathers, the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network, Friends of Sabeel Australia, the Surrender Conference, World Vision Australia and the Peacemaker Trust.
In June, Stephen collected a further 35 boxes of theological books for Book Aid which were delivered to their warehouse in South London. The books came from several retired clergy in Southampton and a church in Hythe.
Christianity Explored Tanzania
For two weeks in January 2018, Jim McAnlis, Sam Oyirwoth and Stephen were invited by Bishop Darlington Bendankeha of Kagera Diocese in Tanzania, to train 150 of his clergy to use the Christianity Explored course. They also returned to the Anglican Peace Centre in Cyangugu on the Rwandan border with the DRC, to equip a further 50 clergy from Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo.
Evangelical Theological College Asia
ETCAsia exists for one purpose: to prepare godly men and women for gospel ministry in Singapore, Southeast Asia and beyond. It is a non-denominational college and welcomes students from all denominations and together hopes to serve all churches in Singapore and Asia. I was invited to lecture on the Bible, Israel and the Church. Stephen was invited to give three presentations based on his book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers: The Bible, Israel and the Church:
Our Religious Freedom
Religious freedoms in the UK have taken centuries to build, but intolerance, complacency and uniformity are slowly eroding them away. It’s easy to sit back and ignore the damage because, like erosion, it’s not always immediately visible on the surface. But look a little closer and you can begin to see the cracks.
When nurses are being sacked for wearing crosses or praying, and students are being kicked off their course for their beliefs, you have to ask yourself how safe these freedoms are. At what point do you act? We are not looking for a quick fix. Erosion needs prevention and that prevention is a new law: a new law, once and for all, to safeguard, all aspects of freedom of religion or belief before we lose them, along with freedom of speech. Peacemakers is pleased to endorse this initiative. Read more about Our Religious Freedom
The pursuit of peace knows no barriers, no borders, no exclusions, no exceptions. Therefore, one of Peacemaker’s mission priorities is mediation. The Good Friday Agreement brought an end to the decades of violence and bloodshed in Northern Ireland. However, Brexit and the British withdrawal from European Human Rights legislation threatens the peace agreement. There are real fears of a return to violence and extremism. The influx of refugees and asylum seekers has further tested the harmony and coexistence in the community.
Stephen has helped facilitate a series of meetings at An Cuan, the YWAM Centre in Rostrevor, bringing together Republicans and Unionists, Roman Catholics and Protestants as well as representatives of other faith minorities, to address their seemingly irreconcilable hopes and expectations constructively. The outcome was the publication of the Rostrevor Declaration last month, which Stephen helped to draft, which it is hoped will strengthen the Good Friday Agreement and maintain peace in Ireland. See latest January 2018 update. See also photos.
Projects in 2017
In November 2017, Stephen assisted Canon Naim Ateek and Omar Haramy with the Sabeel Witness Visit to Palestine. The theme of the tour was ‘Christian Zionism and Colonialism – A Response from Palestinian Christians’. Stephen gave three presentations during the week on the historical roots, the theological basis and the political consequences of Christian Zionism. He also gave a biblical refutation called Seven Biblical Answers. Read more here
Justice Conference Asia
The Balfour Project
Over five years ago, Stephen helped to set up the Balfour Project to highlight Britain’s record in Palestine before and during its Mandate. In 2012, Stephen delivered a paper at the Church of Scotland/Balfour Project conference held in Edinburgh entitled, Broken Promises: The Road to Balfour. He also contributed a paper to the Balfour Project website, A Theology of the Land.
The Suffering Church in Exile
Kairos Sabeel Nederlands held a day conference on 23rd September at St John’s Church, Amersfoort, to launch the Dutch translation of Walter Brueggemann’s book, Chosen? Reading the Bible amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Stephen was asked to give a summary and critique of Dr Brueggemman’s book and also lead a seminar on The Bible, Israel and the Church. Read more here.
For 25 years, Stephen has been a trustee of Biblica Europe: International Bible Society. Biblica was founded in 1809 and provide the Bible in accurate, contemporary translations and formats so that more people around the world will have the opportunity to be transformed by Jesus Christ. Biblica is the translation sponsor of the New International Version Bible. With over 600 million copies in print and countless digital versions, it is the most trusted modern Bible translation in the world. Read more here.
Christianity Explored East Africa
The Right Revd Nathan Amooti, the Anglican Bishop of Cyangugu, Rwanda, invited Jim McAnlis, Shadrach Lukwago and Stephen to help equip clergy from Rwanda, Burundi and Congo to use the Christianity Explored course last week. Thirty clergy participated in the intensive three day training conference, held at the beautiful Anglican Guest House in Cyangugu on the shores of Lake Kivu near the Congolese border crossing between Bukavu and Risuzu. The Right Revd Seth Ndayirukiye, the new Bishop of Matana Diocese, Burundi contribute as well. Read more here.
In Uganda, through Christianity Explored, we have been equipping and training church leaders from Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, South Sudan and Kenya to work together for the sake of the gospel. Read more here
Christianity Explored Middle East
The Arabic editions of Christianity Explored (adult and youth) were recently launched in Cairo and Beirut. Around 300 Egyptian, Lebanese, Sudanese, Druze and Bedouin Christian leaders were introduced to the course. In Beirut the event was hosted by the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. Contact Stephen for more information about receiving training or a copies of the course. Read more here.
Promoting Religious Harmony in Morocco
In May, Stephen spoke at a conference at the University of Oujda as well as preached in the Anglican churches in Casablanca and Rabat. Read more here.
By God’s grace and with your support, Peacemaker Trust will continue to further the cause of justice, peace and reconciliation where invited and most needed.