The recent attention to the plight of Syrian (and other) refugees in Europe has brought to the forefront the need to address the issue, including its root cause, the war in Syria. These recent articles and essays may be helpful in gaining a clearer understanding of some of the issues at stake.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 10:17-31
Prayers for Jordan:
For those wandering the desert, let us open our doors and offer a glass of water. Let us make a bed and share a meal. Let us reach deep into our pockets and honor our guests.
For those lost at sea, let us wade in the water meet them on the beaches. Let us comfort the children as they find their way far from home. Let us comfort the parents when they put their children into boats as the water becomes safer than land.
For those lost in the city, let us prepare spaces of light and warmth, so that those who have had their dignity turn to shreds have an opportunity to stitch it back together.
Oh God we pray this day for those who live with hunger, and for those that will not share their bread. We pray for those who are misunderstood, and those who misunderstand. We pray for those with lots to give and for those with little. We pray for those with heavy burdens and for those who help to carry it.
We pray for the hopeless, and for those for whom hope is all there is.
Written by Anthony Moujaes, UCC News
The United Church of Christ and Global Ministries, in solidarity with several religious groups in the United States, are urging the White House to act in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, which has escalated in the last few weeks with hundreds of thousands of people risking their lives to reach Europe.
So far, the American government has allowed just 1,500 Syrians to resettle here — a fraction of the millions that have fled the country — but this week the White House is considering new options for refugee resettlement. The UCC/Global Ministries is asking members to voice their support to allow more refugees into the U.S. by signing a petition calling on the government to make space for Syrians in the next year.Read more
Reduction in statelessness, prevention of statelessness and the protection of stateless people in the Middle East provided the focus of a workshop organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) from 6 to 10 September at Saydet el Jabal Monastery in Beirut, Lebanon.Read more
We are coming to the end of another summer. For a second time this year, the weather in Jordan has been unusual. This past week, a heat wave struck Jordan sending the temperatures into the 40s--‐Celsius (100s--‐Fahrenheit) in Amman, and even higher in other parts of the county. Along with the heat came large sand storms, unusual in northern Jordan.
Through the summer, Jordan has still been the home for millions of displaced people in the Middle East. Day by day, the number of Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing their homes for safer places continues to grow. The Orthodox Initiative of the Middle East Council of Churches has been continuing its work through the summer to bring essential items to those in our community who need them most.Read more
The Schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) are the educational ministry of the ELCJHL. They are designed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people as a whole. Teachers, administrators, and students are both Christian and Muslim with the student Muslim/Christian balance hovering around 50%-60% from each community. Muslim parents choose to send their children to these Christian schools because of their reputation for high educational standards. Children learn about each other’s religions as part of the school curriculum. The schools focus on embracing and empowering students and families in the region from all religious, economic, and social backgrounds. Two of the major goals of the ELCJHL are served through the schools: 1) To integrate peace education and culture, reinforce democracy, and encourage tolerance, co-existence, love, and respect toward others and 2) To ameliorate the communication process and encourage exchanges with local and international communities.Read more
Written by Ms. Wafa F. Goussous, Director for the office of the President for the Eastern Orthodox Family, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, Middle East Council of Churches, and Director of The Orthodox Initiative for the Churches in the Middle East; and Mr. Nathaniel Bailey, Media and Communications, and Global Ministries Global Mission Intern
Summer has made it to the Kingdom of Jordan. This past week has been warm, with temperatures reaching the mid 30s-Celsius. Schools are beginning to prepare for summer, Ramadan is around the corner, and everyone is settling into new routines that come with the change of seasons.Read more
The Kingdom of Jordan is a unique place. As I sit to write, the country is reeling from the shock of the murder of their pilot, Lt. Moaz al-Kassasbeh, a brutal event that shocked not only the people of Jordan, but also the world. In the past days, the country has rallied in the streets in memory and protest. F-16 fighter jets have shaken windows as they soar towards battlefields in Syria and Iraq with further death and destruction in tow. And I have sat in company of new friends and family as they mourn death and celebrate life.Read more
Written by Wafa Goussous, Director of the Orthodox Initiative and Jordan Liaison for the Middle East Council of Churches
and Nathanial Bailey, Media and Communications Associate, and Global Ministries GMI
Christ is Risen! The Easter season is a special time for Christians throughout the world. It is a time to reflect upon our faith, gather in community, and worship and praise our Lord; resurrection is a renewal of hope.
The Middle East has seen turbulent times the past few years with wars and violence tearing apart countries and families. Millions of people have been forced from their countries, many celebrating religious feasts away from home for the first time.
At the Orthodox Initiative and Middle East Council of Churches Office in Amman, Jordan, we have been working to do all that we can for the most vulnerable.Read more
Written by Wafa Goussous*
A week after an unseasonal blizzard blanketed Jordan in drifts of thick snow, warm winds and a bright sun emerged marking the beginning of spring in the region. With car windows rolled down, the team of the Orthodox Initiative and Middle East Council of Churches in Amman Jordan made their way across the city to the Syrian Orthodox Church to meet with Father Emmanual and Iraqi Christian refugees, as well as The Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts for a distribution of food parcels and to discuss ways where we can begin new projects in partnership.
Our team is transitioning from focusing on direct assistance and moving into providing capacity and community building for both hosting and guest communities throughout Jordan. These new techniques focus on empowering communities to work towards meeting their diverse needs while having partners to help guide and walk with them along the journey. The displaced communities of Syrian and Iraqis now living in Jordan are facing difficult times. The violence of the Middle East is not slowing down causing those who have fled their homes to have to look for long-term solutions to help meet not only their daily needs, but also their social and communal needs.
Taking a step in this direction, our team met with members of the Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts to brainstorm ways that we can partner to integrate local communities and displaced communities. The Scouts in Jordan are well established meeting weekly at the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman, where they often go camping and undertake projects that teach skills to their members while giving back to their community. The Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts are part of the International Scouting movement which brings together youth not only to form relationships and community, but to also build skills in leadership and community assistance.
With the influx of Christians from Iraq in the summer of 2014, the Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts are now looking for ways to integrate the displaced youth to provide safety and security for them. The Iraqi Christian youth that have fled from war are facing many challenges and deep trauma where special attention on integration is necessary to provide space to grow and feel at home. Seeing the effectiveness of the Scouts in the Jordanian community and through out the world, there is great potential for relationships between the Scouts and displaced youth to not only help both grow, but to help both of them thrive in their communities. Together, we are working to develop projects where we can support weekly activities including lectures, volunteer paid work, church services, camps, music training and vocational training for the youth.
As we concluded our visit, we assisted in a distribution of food parcels to the Iraqi Christian youth who had come to meet with us. Although we are moving into longer-term projects, the daily challenge of finding food and shelter is massive for displaced people. It is important to understand the need for community building projects that can provide for all members of communities by providing safety, relationships, and capacity building. Through building strong communities, we are taking a step in empowering members to meet their needs.
As the sun begins to shine and the warm spring weather comes to Jordan, we are beginning and ready to start new projects, seeking the best ways that we can to work with those around us where, together, we can provide for the most vulnerable members of out communities.
*Wafa Goussous serves as Director of the Orthodox Initiative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and is liaison staff of the Middle East Council of Churches in Amman, Jordan.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries' partners' relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through the Week of Compassion (Disciples), One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), or through Global Ministries directly.