An International Ecumenical Debate on the Issue of “Promised Land”

An International Ecumenical Debate on the Issue of “Promised Land”

Israel-Palestine: In Bern, theologians weigh issues in the conflict

World Council of Churches

One challenge for churches addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the fact that it takes place in a land that different religions consider holy. A conference in Bern will discuss the concept of the “Promised Land” and related theological issues with a view to help more churches become advocates for a just peace.

The international theological conference will take place in Bern, Switzerland, from 10 to 14 September 2008. Some 65 theologians from World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches in different regions of the world will participate (names below).

Convened by the WCC, the meeting is hosted by the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches and the Reformed Churches in Bern-Jura-Solothurn. The event is part of the international inter-church advocacy initiative Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the WCC.

“One of the main goals we hope to achieve is to deepen church understanding of biblical promises concerning the land and its peoples. This will require a holistic approach to the biblical message, promoting common understanding of how theological issues may be related to the conflict,” says Michel Nseir, programme executive for the WCC special focus on Middle East. “Different approaches to biblical and theological issues should not prevent common action for a just peace.”

The conference will start a process of developing a handbook for congregations and parishes, aimed at facilitating their reflection on issues like the Promised Land, the Church and Israel, justice and peace. The material would invite Christians to become more active as advocates of peace with justice for both peoples in the conflict.

Three parts of the conference programme are open to the media:

  • Opening ceremony at Bern’s Offene Heiliggeistkirche: Wednesday, 10 September at 17:30 (Bern Central Station).
  • Reception at the Bern House of Religions: Saturday, 13 September at 19:00 (Schwarztorstrasse 102, Bern)
  • Closing ceremony: Sunday, 14 Sep. at 10:00 (French Church, Predigergasse 3)

Participants available for media requests:

  • Rev. Dr Jean-Claude Basset, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Archbishop Elias Chacour, Melkite Catholic Archbishopric, Haifa, Israel
  • Prof. Dr Harvey Cox, Harvard University, USA
  • Prof. Dr Othmar Keel, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Jerusalem
  • Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, World Council of Churches, General Secretary
  • Rev. Thomas Wipf, President of the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, Switzerland

WCC Programme “Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace”:

Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches:

Bern House of Religions (in German)

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.