Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sabeel Conference, November 13--Morning Worship

"A Time to Remember"

The first full day of Sabeel's seventh international conference began with an opening worship filled with prayer, song, and welcome.

Violette Khoury, of the Sabeel Nazareth board, greeted the conference participants, expressing her appreciation for their solidarity:: "Now is the time for hope, for we are no longer alone."

Rev. Jonathan Frerichs of the World Council of Churches brought greetings from WCC General Secretary Rev. Sam Kobia. Echoing the language of the ecumenical Amman Call, Rev. Kobia's message emphasized the need for the church to move beyond words into action towards a just peace in Palestine and Israel, and drew attention to many recent activities of the church, from economic strategies for ending the occupation to the Core Group and Working Group (of which Sabeel's Rev. Naim Ateek and Nora Carmi are members) to the World Council of Church's Interchurch Week of Action for Palestine and Israel. Rev. Frerichs concluded with the words of the Action Week message from 2008: "It's time for Palestine."

This hopeful greeting was seconded by Cristoffer Sjoholm of Diakonia, who told the story of successful economic advocacy undertaken by a joint effort of the Church of Sweden, Diakonia, and SwedeWatch. Together, these Christian organizations were able to secure a promise from a Swedish company to close a factory built in an illegal Israeli settlement in the north of the West Bank.

Worship continued with the reading of Scripture from the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 10: "Recall those earlier days when you endured a hard struggle with suffering." With this scriptural framework in mind, participants listened to an overview of the conference program by Rev. Naim Ateek, director of Sabeel, and concluded with prayers and song: "O Lord, hear my prayer."

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