by Andrew Luisi
Christ Church, located in New York, is a congregation in the United Methodist denomination of Protestant Christianity that strives to experience God, connect with others, and serve the world. Their mission is clear and forthright: they seek to love God before all things and their neighbors as themselves.
A group of congregants from the church came to Israel and Palestine for an intensive two-week study tour hosted by ICCI’s Center for Interreligious Encounter with Isreal, that analyzed relations between the monotheistic religions and viewed Christianity from a multicultural context. On the last day of their program, they arrived at the ICCI for a lecture and discussion on “The Other Peace Process–Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action in Israel-Palestine as a Form of Peace-building” by Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, director of ICCI.
It is well known that religion is an important factor in our world that cannot be ignored. Dr. Kronish expressed to the group that when the personal dimensions are added to the equation, stories are told that bring people together to learn about the culture and identity of the other. After hearing this, a participant in the program commented that their study tour was a complimentary symbiosis of understanding both the Palestinian and the Jewish-Israeli narrative. Many groups come to Israel or Palestine for a one-experience, but this group learned that there are multiple narratives; there is more than what is perceived at first blush.
Groups who come to this region are all too often exposed to black-and-white portrayals of the complex situation here, yet they rarely hear multiple versions, which encapsulate the issues at hand through a compassionate lens. In terms of the Israel-Jewish and Palestinian conflict, we at ICCI believe there has to be a nuanced approach in order to understand the complexity of views from each side. Many people who experience Israel and Palestine with us are often surprised to find out that there are actually people working for peace in this region!
The Christ Church participants in the study tour left with varied expressions on their faces: some were joyful, others confused, but all left with a more complete view of the conflict that is taking place in the holiest land on earth. Their understanding of how Peace-Building creates bridges that unite people is a beacon of hope that their revelations here in Israel and Palestine will inspire their work in The Melting Pot of the United States.
Filed under: Andrew Luisi, Christians in Israel, English, ICCI Events, ICCI Programs, International Stories, Letters from Abroad, Out and About in the Holy Land, Personal Stories and Testimonies, Theology and Philosophy, Visiting Groups