The Presbyterian Church in Canada joins in prayer for the people of Palestine and Israel as they face war, danger and uncertainty.

Bethlehem

Graffiti in Bethlehem. Credit: PCC

Amid war, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have called “upon our congregations to stand strong with those facing such afflictions, by this year foregoing any unnecessarily festive activities.” The statement notes that while, under normal circumstances, displays of light would mark the birth of Christ, this year is marked with the loss of thousands of lives, including women and children, with many grieving “the loss of their homes, their loved ones, or the uncertain fate of those dear to them.” The statement also invites “the faithful to advocate, pray, and contribute generously as they are able for the relief of the victims of this war and for those in dire need, as well as to encourage others to join them in this mission of mercy”. This call and others have resulted in the cancellation of all public festivities and decorations to mark the season. Read more

Amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian farmers residing in the West Bank are gearing up for their olive tree planting season. The fields have been prepared for the orchards since before October of this year. The Joint Advocacy Initiative (initiated by our local partners, the East Jerusalem YWCA/YMCA), which oversees the campaign, has confirmed that the planting will proceed despite security concerns. However, the number of trees planted will be reduced to 15,000. The farmers will handle the planting themselves. The Presbyterian Church in Canada has sponsored the planting of 261 trees in Bethlehem and Hebron between 2022 and 2023. The PCC is accepting donations for the Olive Tree Campaign and you can contribute to this campaign, which will help Palestinian farmers to replant their destroyed olive orchards.

Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) is planning humanitarian assistance that will be provided through members of the ACT Alliance. PWS&D’s humanitarian response will assist with shelter, food, livelihoods, emergency health, psychosocial and mental health support, as well as cash assistance to allow people to purchase the goods they require.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada asks that people pray for all who are affected and threatened and for an end to violence and a just peace in the land of Christ’s birth.

God of truth, mercy and peace,
God of life and of reconciliation,
we mourn the suffering and murder of your people
and we pray for a just peace
and reconciliation for the people of Palestine and Israel
who have endured the burden of violence and conflict for so long.
Console those who grieve,
heal the injured,
comfort those who are alone and afraid,
protect those who are held hostage, and
restrain those who would cause more violence
or act cynically for political gain and power.
Let wisdom settle on your churches
and on the governments and leaders of this world
so that justice is sought,
reconciliation found,
peace established and
security provided for all.
In the name of Jesus, we pray.
Amen.

STATEMENTS AND LETTERS SIGNED BY THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN CANADA

The Presbyterian Church in Canada has joined the call by 16 global humanitarian and human rights organizations demanding all UN member states halt arms transfers to Israel and Palestinian armed groups fuelling the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Read more about the open call here .

The letter from the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada urges the Prime Minister of Canada to call for a ceasefire, the safe release of all hostages, a safe corridor for humanitarian aid, de-escalation of violence and an end to the blockade in the ongoing violence between Hamas and Israel.

Image of arrow pointing downView or download the letter:

KAIROS Canada and its member churches and agencies condemn the current violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians in Israel, Gaza, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and call on Canada to do everything in its power to support an immediate ceasefire and a negotiated solution.

In response to the spiralling violence, they have issued an ecumenical statement, A Cry to End the Violence and to uphold the rights of all civilians to life and freedom from violence and discrimination.  In it, they write:

“We join the voices of those in the region and others in Canada and internationally in urging the Canadian Government to support a ceasefire and a negotiated resolution to this violence. The pain and tragedy of the growing numbers of civilian lives, Israeli and Palestinian, lost in the violence to date are evidence of the need for an immediate ceasefire, not an escalation of violence.”

Image of arrow pointing downView or download the full statement:

PREVIOUS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTIONS AND ENDORSEMENTS

This page chronicles principles the General Assembly has endorsed or actions it has taken related to Israel and Palestine:
https://presbyterian.ca/justice/social-action/human-rights/human-rights-in-the-middle-east/

ECUMENICAL CHURCH STATEMENTS

Read the ACT Palestine Forum’s statement on the violence in Gaza

PARENTS CIRCLE FAMILY FORUM (PCFF)

This year’s recipient of the PCC’s Cutting Edge of Mission Award, Parents Circle Family Forum, wrote in the earliest days of the violence that the “relentless cycle of conflict has inflicted immeasurable pain and suffering on innocent lives. It is a time of great sorrow, knowing that countless families now bear the burden of emptiness in their hearts and the heavy weight of grief due to the tragic loss of their loved ones.” The Forum is made up of parents, both Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost children due to the ongoing conflict. You can watch the videos of the presentation during the 2023 General Assembly and the two recipients of the award on behalf of PCFF, Laila AlSheIkh and Robi Damelin , here.

Laila AlShekh
Robi Damelin