Welcome to the June issue of our monthly round up of news and information from St George’s College in Jerusalem.

Our subscriber base for the newsletter continues to grow, and is now nudging 800 people. It is greatly encouraging for us to see how many people have already signed up for the newsletter, and we look forward to passing the 1,000 mark soon and then going even higher.

This month will see two new programs being offered for the first time:

Bible and Archaeology (June 12 – July 1)

For the first time, students from SGC will participate in the archaeology dig at Bethsaida. The College has been visiting this site for some years, and we often celebrate the Eucharist at edge of the excavations. Now we are getting our hands dirty as we seek insight into the lives of the people who have lived here over the centuries: from King David’s father-in-law, to several of the disciples who first followed Jesus, and the Mamluks who settled here after the Crusaders were drive from the land. Watch for photos and news updates on the College Facebook page, and a more complete summary in the July newsletter.

Women of the Bible (June 16–25)

While some students are getting dirt under their fingernails at Bethsaida, others will be participating in this new course to be jointly led by Dr Tracy Radosevic and Dr Susan Lukens. The international women who have registered for this special course, will be joined by local Palestinian women whose participation has been made possible by a discounted rate offered by the College, and the generous support of Archbishop Suheil Dawani, who has covered the direct costs of their involvement.

Foundation of St George’s College Jerusalem

The annual meeting of the College Foundation will be held on Wednesday, June 22. On the previous day there will be a special session for members of the Executive Committee to finalise the draft strategic plan, and then the Executive will convene again on Thursday to consider the implementation of the decisions made by the Foundation. Please keep the Foundation members in your prayers as they travel to Jerusalem, and as we seek God’s guidance for the future development of the College as a mission agency of the local church and as a center for reconciliation and renewal within the global Anglican Communion.

Staff Changes

This month will see some changes in personnel as well as important steps to fill two key roles.

Our former Course Director, Dr Rodney Aist, finished in that role on May 31. Rodney assisted Canon Mary June Nestler with the leadership of the Palestine of Jesus program in May, and the large group of students greatly appreciated his input. Applications for the position of Director of Studies closed on May 31, and the process of shortlisting applicants is about to begin.

We have greatly benefited from the ministry of Fr Andrew Shermann as Chaplain during May. We wish Andrew well as he continues with his sabbatical program, and look forward to the selection of a new Chaplain shortly.

Our volunteer Warden, Elizabeth Raymer, will complete her three months in that key role later in June. Beth’s duties in the guest services area will be taken up by our inaugural Porter Scholar, Joshua Brunner, when he arrives shortly.

 

College Dean, Canon Gregory Jenks, has been on an extended visit to the United States since the middle of May. He left Jerusalem immediately after the conclusion of the May Introduction to the Bible Lands program, and will return to the College on June 8.

Boston-alumni-event

During his visit, the Dean participated in the ordination service for our Associate Dean. Susan Lukens, and had meetings with a number of people from the North American Committee and from Virginia Theological Seminary. He and Eve were also able to visit some nearby sites where the Jenks family has historical connections. As mentioned in a separate story, they also visited the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Danville, VA.

Alumni events were held at VTS, in Boston, in Memphis and in Atlanta.

Memphis-workshop

Meetings were arranged with key figures in the Episcopal Church and in local academic institutions.

This was the first visit to the US for Dr Jenks since becoming Dean, but he expects to visit different parts of the States on a regular basis as we reinvigorate our alumni networks and our relationships with donors. He spent three weeks in the UK in April, and will be in Australia and New Zealand for an extended visit in August. Details of the ANZ itinerary will be available soon.

Atlanta-alumni-event

A special thanks to everyone who assisted with the arrangements, to those who traveled long distances to attend the alumni events, and to those who generously offered hospitality to Greg and Eve at various times during the trip.

Our Associate Dean, the Revd. Dr. Susan Lukens, was ordained a Priest in the Church of God on Monday, 16 May 2016. Susan was ordained by Bishop James Shand on behalf of Bishop Dickson Chilongani in the Diocese of Central Tanganika, Tanzania. The service took place in the beautiful Emmanual Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary.

VTS-ordination-booklet VTS-chapel-candelabra

 

We wish Susan every blessing in her ministry among us as Priest, and celebrate her own personal YES to the call of God on her life.

VTS-susan-priest

VTS-susan-greg

The College will be offering a set of special programs in the northern Fall (Spring time for our southern alumni, of course) this year.

After returning from our August summer break, we looking forward to welcoming pilgrims for the following courses:

Sep 6–15 | Palestine of Jesus (Year of Matthew) – we still have several places available on this 10 day program

Sep 19–30 | Palestine of Jesus (Year of Matthew) – there is just 1 place remaining on this 12 day program

Oct 4–11 | Introduction to the Bible Lands – we still have several places available on this 8 day program

Oct 14–23 | Living Stones (Peace, Reconciliation and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem) – we still have several places available on this special 10 day program to be led by Dean Hosam Naoum from St George’s Cathedral.

Oct 25–Nov 1 | Division and Hope in the Holy City (offered in association with the Anglican Centre in Rome) – we still have several places in this special 8 day program, but numbers are restricted to a total of 20 participants.

Nov 4–11 | Introduction to the Bible Lands (Linked Dioceses of Southwark and Zimbabwe) – 20 people from London and 20 people from Zimbabe will share this special 8 day program in Jerusalem.

Nov 15–24 | Palestine of Jesus (Year of Matthew) – we still have several places available on this 10 day program

Please make these opportunities widely known, and join us yourself for any of these programs that especially interest you.

Details of future programs in the Winter of 2016/17 and throughout 2017 are available on the College Calendar.

In June St College’s College Jerusalem will welcome Joshua Bruner, the first of our Porter Scholars to serve at the College under the ten-year Porter Fellowship program in partnership with the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, and the H. Boone and Violet M. Porter Foundation.

Joshua-bruner

Joshua Bruner received his Masters in Divinity at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and his Bachelor of Arts at Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, where he was twice named a King Creativity Scholar. He served as a chaplain in the Intensive Care Nursery and Birthing Pavillion at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. He is currently a Candidate for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

While serving as the inaugural Porter Scholar, Joshua will also work one day a week with Jerusalem Peace Builders. This is an important part of the partnership with Berkeley and with the Porter Foundation. We hope that it will also strengthen the College’s engagement in the ministry of reconciliation and peace in our troubled land.

The College community is looking forward to welcoming Joshua in early June and looks forward to his many contributions to our life over the next six or seven months.

Joshua has offered the following personal reflections on his role with us:

Growing up in a deeply sectarian Christian denomination in Texas, I learned from an early age that abiding in community across difference was often difficult. If I wanted to understand someone, I needed to first listen to them genuinely, lovingly, and carefully, regardless of how incongruent their ideologies were from my own. I sincerely believe that one of the greatest challenges facing our world, and the Anglican Communion in particular, is the disrepair of genuine global relationships across cultural difference.

My final year in seminary, I had the pleasure to work with the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas. Bishop Douglas, who is deeply involved in the Anglican Communion, particularly through the Anglican Consultative Council, was a generous mentor and inspired me to engage the ties that truly bind the Anglican Communion, which are relationships developed through co-participation God’s mission.

St. George’s College offers a critical resource to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. While visiting Jerusalem two years ago, I met Bishop Laura Ahrens who was on sabbatical and staying at St. George’s. She told me how it was restorative in her faith and ministry. I realized that St. George’s College is a unique place, both removed and also in the center. One is removed from their local context and yet deeply embedded in the historical land of scripture through study and spiritual reflection. While local retreats and continuing education courses help achieve these ends, the College operates on another level, incomparable to alternatives. Eagerly, I await the opportunity to engage this community and grown, learn, and serve.

When I graduated from college, I completed a service year in AmeriCorps through City Year (www.cityyear.org) in New York, where I led a team of ten corps members through a year of service at a public elementary school in the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the United States. Our team worked with students as literacy tutors, founded an afterschool program, and led other positive school climate events, including school dances and a school spirit week, among others.

My experience leading teams in AmeriCorps as a corps member and manager taught me about leadership ethics through practical experience. Later, while attending Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, I was inspired and became more deeply committed to the Christian ethic of a lively faith. This active and incarnate faith inspires an intellectual curiosity of scripture and theology, active engagement in our hurting world, and a commitment to deepened, expanded, and textured relationship with Jesus Christ. While I learned about leadership at City Year, Berkeley cultivated me into a distinctly Christian leader. My desire is to further develop as a globally conscious Christian leader, in our beautiful, fractured world through the Porter Fellowship through my residence at St. George’s College, in addition to my work with the Jerusalem Peacebuilders. I look forward to building relationships through service, and mutual discernment of and participationin God’s ongoing mission in Jerusalem and the regions beyond.

 

At the recent conference of the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction (ANSD) in Perth, this fine group of alumni from St George’s College Jerusalem were captured for this photo. It is good to see so many familiar faces, and great to see the ripple effect as time spent in Jerusalem informs and renews ministry of various forms.

perth-ANSD-alumni

The rural city of Danville in the western region of Virginia was a late addition to the itinerary for the Dean’s current program in the United States. Best known for its previous role as a center for the textile and tobacco industries, it also played a key role in the final days of the Civil War when Danville served as the last seat of government for the Confederated States of America.

What took the Dean to Danville was another historical link.

Following the recent round of scholarship grants, the Dean dropped a brief email to the Revd Becky Crites at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Danville. He was writing to let them know that he had drawn on a fund created by a gift from their parish some years earlier. That gift allowed him to offer scholarships for several clergy from the Hmong community in Minnesota to participate in a program at St George’s College later this year.

danville-va-banner

danville-va-jenks-crites

This simple courtesy note triggered a set of connections, new and old. A brief visit to Danville was arranged when other changes to the Dean’s schedule created a free day in the program.

As well as meeting with the Revd Becky, who is serving as the Interim Rector of the Church of the Epiphany, there was an opportunity to meet with Fr Jim Mathieson, who was Rector of the Church at the time when the original gifts to St George’s College had been made. His own love for the College and his vision of clergy professional development, had continued to bear fruit many years later. Jim had also served for a period on the North American Committee of the College.
danville-va-matheison-jenksdanville-va-jenks-students

Following a light lunch with Becky and Jim, there was an opportunity for the Dean to speak with the children from Eighth Grade in the small school operated by the Parish. The class had recently completed a unit on the Middle East, so a visitor from Jerusalem was an unexpected addition to the curriculum resources. The children were joined by a few parishioners who were available in the middle of the week and at short notice.

The connecting ripples of our fellowship in the Gospel spread even farther afield since the Dean’s email had been copied to the Revd Letha Wilson-Barnard. Letha’s church in Minnesota includes the members of the Hmong community who had received the grants ultimately funded by this gift from the Church of the Epiphany in Danville. As it happened, both Becky and Letha are classmates from Virginia Theological Seminary; another key partner for St George’s College.

Written in thanksgiving for all these special connections!

The month ahead will see a lot happening around the College.

For starters, we shall be welcoming pilgrims for three very different programs at the College:

Fr Andrew Sherman from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Boca Raton, Florida will be serving as Chaplain for our three courses during May, and we are delighted to welcome Fr Andrew back to the College community.

A special welcome as well to Canon Mary June Nestler, who is returning to serve as Visiting Professor for the Palestine of Jesus program.

In the Emmanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary on Monday, May 16, our Associate Dean, the Revd. Dr. Susan Lukens will be ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop James J. Shand, on behalf of Bishop Dickson Chilongani of the Diocese of Central Tanzania. The College community rejoices with Susan at this time, and we give thanks for her significant ministry as Adjunct Professor of Theology at Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania.

At the end of this month we shall farewell Dr Rodney Aist, as he concludes his role as Course Director. Rodney has played a critical role in the life of St George’s College for almost three years. He leaves with the blessings and the love of the College community both here in Jerusalem and around the world. We wish him well for the future and look forward to other opportunities when he may be able to assist us with programs at the College.

During the last half of May and through the first week of June, Dean Greg Jenks will be visiting the US. During this time he will meet with alumni and friends, as well as with key staff in The Episcopal Church and partners in various academic institutions. There are alumni events planned for several locations, including Alexandria, Atlanta, Boston, Greenville and Memphis so if you live near any of those areas, watch for information from the North American Committee or your local alumni community.

On May 31 applications will close for the role of Director of Studies as well as for expressions of interest in serving as Chaplain to the College in the next twelve months or so. A number of applications have already been received for both roles, and the process of reviewing the applications and preparing for possible interviews will begin on June 1.

The Dean of St George’s College Jerusalem spent the last three weeks of April on an extended visit to the United Kingdom to consult with members of the British Regional Committee and to meet a range of leaders in the church and in theological education. There were also opportunities to meet with alumni of the College, including several of the participants in the recent Sharing Perspectives: Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land program.

The extended visit allowed Dr Jenks to consult widely about ways that the College can better serve the needs of the Church of England as well as the wider Anglican Communion.

One immediate outcome from the visit has been action to proceed with our plans to offer courses for ordination candidates from around the global Anglican Communion. This addresses one of the strategic goals set by the College Foundation in recent years, namely to engage with candidates preparing for ordination as well as clergy in the early years of their ministry. See the separate story on the Jerusalem Ministry Formation Program for more details.

The visit also allowed Dr Jenks to explore ways that the College can serve as a site for encounter and reconciliation within the wider Anglican Communion, as a place for interfaith encounter, and as a resource for the Anglican Church in the Middle East. Much more work is needed before these plans come to fruition, but the UK visit allowed these ideas to be discussed with a range of stakeholders.

During the past few weeks there has been quite a bit of activity as we have gathered information for the current strategic planning process.

  • Feedback was collected from alumni and church leaders via an online survey
  • Data on enrolment patterns during the past 10 years was collected
  • Financial reports from the same period were examined for trends
  • Anticipated priorities for the College building and physical assets were gathered

This information is being examined along with other input from the Dean and Foundation as our consultant develops a draft strategic plan for consideration at the 2016 meeting of the College Foundation. Once a final plan has been developed, it will guide our operations in the next few years and also serve as the basis for a fund raising campaign in 2017.

We appreciate the contributions of alumni, friends, and staff who have gathered material and provided feedback to Dr Ian Markham who has generously undertaken to coordinate this process and prepare the draft strategic plan.

 

The Jerusalem Ministry Formation Program offers ordinands an opportunity to participate in a short program to engage with Scripture in the context of the biblical lands, and to reflect on the dynamics of their future ministry as Deacons and Priests in the company of peers from around the Anglican Communion. Special attention is given to questions of Anglican identity, as well as to biblical hermeneutics for mission in both post-colonial and Western secular contexts.

Some bursaries and scholarships are available to assist ordinands from a diverse range of contexts to participate in this program.

Course Objectives

The Jerusalem Ministry Formation Program requires participants to have completed the equivalent of one year full-time theological studies, and will assume knowledge of introductory biblical studies, theology and church history. It will offer participants an opportunity to:

  • engage with Scripture in the context of the biblical lands
  • reflect on the intersection of text, location and political context
  • practice and refine personal hermeneutical skills
  • engage with peers from other parts of the Anglican Communion
  • engage with Palestinian Christians as well as with Jewish and Muslim perspectives
  • refine their sense of Anglican identity and mission in the global context

Faculty

The teaching team for the Jerusalem Ministry Formation Program will be drawn from staff of St George’s College Jerusalem along with Visiting Professors from Anglican seminaries and colleges around the world.

A speech by the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, to a conference on “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence: The Atlanta Summit of American and Holy Land Churches” at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA (19–20 April 2016).

160420-Carter-Center

 

The Role of Churches in Interfaith Dialogue

 

Introduction

Thank you esteemed Chair for the invitation to speak at this conference, and for all the Heads of Churches and other delegates that have travelled to Atlanta for this important meeting. Thank you to the Palestinian Authority for convening this meeting, which I pray will have a deep significance for the faith communities in our region, and for wider society.

I bring greetings from the Holy City of Jerusalem and from the Anglican Community in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

 

Religion as a critical factor in our context

Before considering the role of churches in interfaith dialogue, it is important to note the key role played by religion in the communities and societies of our region.

Jerusalem—and the Middle East more generally—is a place where religion is integral to the identity of individuals, families, communities and national societies.

In the secular West, religion is seen as ‘optional’ and a ‘personal attribute’; as part of individualism. In our context, in the Middle East, religion is an attribute that is central to identity, to relationships, and to the choices we make as individuals, families, communities and nations.

I do not believe this is always recognised or understood in the West, but it is an both integral and part and parcel of our experience. It is also central to the role of the churches when addressing issues of justice, peace and reconciliation in a multi-faith context, where religion is often part of the problem and yet I believe an essential element of the solution.

 

Jerusalem, the Holy City

Jerusalem is both the focus of our concerns, as well as a test case for interfaith dialogue and cooperation for the common good.

The vocation of Jerusalem is to be a city of peace.

Its very name invites us to explore diversity and peace within the one shared reality. In the first instance, as is well known, the SALEM element in the name of our city refers to the words for peace in both Hebrew and Arabic: Shalom and Salaam.

On the other hand, the dual form of the word in Hebrew suggests some kind of plurality about this place of peace. The very form of the word invites us to imagine Jerusalem as more than a simple reality, but rather a place where a rich diversity is integral to the Shalom/Salaam found within its walls.

Please keep this idea in mind as we later return to the theme of multi-faith dynamics and interfaith dialogue as a pathway to peace.

The religious diversity of Jerusalem is apparent even to the casual observer, and sometimes the diversity leads to conflict that shames every person of faith.

To begin with my own Christian tradition, there are three families represented within the official Christian community in the Holy Land: The Orthodox family; the Catholic family; and the Evangelical/ Protestant family.

This diversity among Christian is matched by diversity among our Jewish and Muslim neighbours.

The Jewish community itself is very diverse, reflecting the origins of many of the Jewish immigrants in different settings across Europe and the Middle East. The formal duality expressed in the appointment of two Chief Rabbis, one Ashkenazi and the other Sephardic, barely hints at the diversity among secular Jews, traditional Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews, and Ultraorthodox Jews, not to mention Reform Jews or many individual schools within these major streams.

The Islamic community is also characterised by considerable diversity. While the majority of Muslims in Israel and Palestine are Sunni, there is huge diversity between different mosques and between the Muslim religious leaders.

Our religious diversity, and the competition it often breeds, has too frequently been part of the problem in our region. However, that very diversity may also be an asset as we seek to deepen trust and reduce violence.

 

A Theology of Christian Presence

In addressing the topic of the role of the churches in interfaith dialogue, I want to propose that the essential role of the churches is develop, embrace and practice a theology of presence as a form of mission in our complex social and political context.

Such a theology will not ignore witness and evangelism or turn away people drawn to Christianity from other religious communities. But it will understand that proactive evangelism is problematic and perhaps even unhelpful in our context.

We can begin to conceive a new theology of Christian presence by asking the question: What is the mission of Christ in this land at this time?

Let me suggest seven reflections for the mission of Christ in Jerusalem and the Middle East today, and then give some examples of what this looks like on the ground.

 

Reflection 1: FAITH

FAITH – in the first instance, the Church is called to be a community of people who are responding to the call of God upon our lives.

Like Mary, the young Palestinian Jewish maiden from Nazareth, God call us to respond with our own YES to the divine invitation to be bearers of Christ in our community, and in our time.

Without that deeply personal response of trust and commitment to God’s plan for our lives, there can be no mission of presence among our neighbors. Once we have said yes to God, then everything is possible.

 

Reflection 2 HOPE

HOPE – as a community of faith, we operate from love, not fear. Rather than responding out of fear, we act out of love. We are inspired by hope.

We believe that God has good things yet to be revealed and claimed by humanity, and especially within our context in the Middle East. And so we refuse to be overwhelmed by complexity and negativity.

As a community that brings Christ to birth once more in our time, we are people of hope.

 

Reflection 3: Hospitality

HOSPITALITY – taking a lead from our understanding of God as essentially Trinitarian, we are a people who exist for others.

As Arab Christians – as Christians who came to know Christ at the first Pentecost – hospitality is an ancient virtue that is deeply rooted in our culture and our psyche.

We welcome the stranger. We give sanctuary to the refugee. We receive the pilgrim who has come from far away. Diaspora Jews who seek to make a new home here among us.

This has its own challenges for us, and especially when the newcomer seeks to take over our land and evict us from our homes. But even then we must not betray our own best principles by choosing fear over love. We have always tried to live in community with those who are different to us.

 

Reflection 4 – SERVICE

SERVICE – as the people of God we shall spend ourselves in service to those in need.

A Christian theology of presence will be expressed in our hospitals and schools, in our clinics and our community centers. We shall offer water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, and visit those who are ill or in prison.

Our service is not limited to those who share our faith or our national identity. We walk the extra mile, and we pray for those who persecute us – Even those who steal our land and desecrate our churches.  We do this, not because it is easy or something that comes naturally to us; but because it is the work of God in the world.

 

Reflection 5. Solidarity

SOLIDARITY – one of the ways that we serve is through our solidarity with the dispossessed and the marginalised.

As people of faith we do not pretend that evil things are not happening in our land, or that deep injustices have not been perpetrated against our people.

We reject violence as a form of resistance or a pathway to justice.

But we stand in eternal solidarity with the victims of discrimination, ethnic cleansing, racism, tribal violence, and war.

Like the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, our cry goes up to heaven seeking justice. Like the spirits of the martyrs under the altar of God, we ask: “How long, Lord?” How long before justice comes? How long before your kingdom arrives? How long before your will is done on earth as it is in heaven?

 

Reflection 6 – Prophets

PROPHETS – like God’s prophets in every age we are called to speak truth to power. The biblical prophets were not fortune tellers.  They revealed the consequences of the choices made by people and their leaders. They foresaw the tragedy of personal and collective collapse. They glimpsed a better time in the future.

But most of all they spoke God’s truth to men of power, and they spoke God’s truth to the mob that could not see beyond the immediate moment with its temporary satisfactions.

As people engaged in the mission of divine presence in our conflicted region and our divided city, we call on leaders and their followers to make better choices. To choose what makes for peace, and to protect the vulnerable among us.

 

Reflection 7 – JUSTICE

JUSTICE – as a community we seek to act justly and walk humbly with our God. We seek to promote justice for everyone.

We are not seeking privileges or protection for our own communities. That is a trap which has brought devastation to various religious communities in our region. Everyone loses when one group is privileged. Even the privileged group loses in the end.

Justice redresses wrongs and builds hope for a better future. Without justice there can be no reconciliation, no peace, and no future.  So we stand with the victims of injustice, we invoke the legal instruments—whether national laws or international covenants—designed to establish justice, and we denounce acts of injustice irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator.

 

One religious community among many

These 7 suggestions are some essential attributes of a Christian community that embraces a theology of divine presence.

You may have already noticed that none of them are exclusively Christian attributes, even though they are authentic Christian attributes. Herein lies perhaps our major task as a Christian community engaged in interfaith dialogue.

When we are true to our own deepest calling, we are close to the deepest calling of our interfaith colleagues.

In being who God calls us to be, we encourage and support people of other faiths also to be what God calls them to be. If every religious community in Jerusalem and the Middle East practiced these seven attributes then our region would be a more peaceful place, and perhaps even a model of justice and reconciliation for other parts of the world.

 

Some examples of a theology of presence

Let me conclude by offering some examples, drawn from the life of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, of how such a theology of presence looks in real life; and how this theology of presence can foster peace between the diverse communities in our land. No doubt similar examples could be found in Jewish and Muslim contexts, but these are examples drawn from the life of my own small Christian community.

  • Princess Basma Center, East Jerusalem – this institution, which the Anglican Church, runs provides support for disabled children and their parents and grandparents, and provides a fully ‘inclusive’ school.  Its service is for all.
  • Al Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza – we only have one Anglican in Gaza, yet our church offers thousands of Gazans excellent hospital care at minimal to nil cost.
  • Theodore Schneller School, Amman, Jordan – this institution provides care for orphans, for refugees and for children.  It runs a school from kindergarten upwards including a vocational school and Guest House.  Again this is a service for all, irrespective of what religion they are.
  • St Luke’s Hospital, Nablus – this hospital in the heart of the West Bank provides an essential service for the community.  Recently it treated a young man with a bullet in his back, free of charge.

In the best moments, each of these institutions and many others beside them, give glory to God and serve our neighbours in their moments of need.

They do not compete with others or seek to draw people away from their own communities of faith. They are simply expressions of Christian presence, and as such they are signs of God’s presence with us all.

They address suffering and build hope.

They are signs of God’s kingdom and God’s peace.

They are bridges of compassion between different religions and diverse communities.

Thank you.

© 2016 Suheil S. Dawani

Archbishop Suheil DawaniMy dear friends in Christ,

Easter Day is truly the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is immense.  It startled Jesus’ followers and changed the nature of how we as humanity understand the creativity of God, recognising that God is capable of vanquishing death and bringing new life.  Those early disciples experienced something so new that they had no option in their mind but to spread the news of Jesus’s resurrection throughout the world.

They realized that death was not the end; that the world did not finish at Good Friday.   At this time, when many in the world and in this Holy Land are struggling in the face of violence, loss and immense suffering, the message of Easter  compels us in confidence to speak and act in hope when humanity feels hopeless; in peace when people act in violence; love when a community appears dominated by hatred and paranoia.  Easter inspires us to be agents of God’s peace and love in this world and in this region.

The Christians in the Holy Land make up a tiny minority; yet through loving their neighbour we as a community bring, I believe, the most important message of peace and love to this place.  The Christians are like that mustard seed which Jesus spoke of “which, when sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

May God inspire you all this Eastertide, bringing peace to your hearts so that you may be His agents to spread His peace throughout this land and the world.

++Suheil Dawani
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem

Roman Catholic clergy men hold candles as they circle the aedicule during the Holy Thursday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 09, 2009. Christian believers around the world mark the solemn period of Easter in celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians traditionally believe the church is built on the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Living Stones: Peace, Reconciliation and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem
Dates: October 14, 2016 to October 23, 2016

The ancient stones of this land have captivated adventurers, archaeologists, and pilgrims.

The sacred texts that shape our spiritual imagination are illuminated by an encounter with the ‘Fifth Gospel’, the land of the Holy One.

But the real treasures of the Church in this land are the living stones, the faithful women and men who live out their faith day by day in very challenging circumstances as a minority within a minority.

In this 10-day program you will visit selected sites in Israel, Palestine and Jordan to see the diversity and the vitality of the Anglican Church in this land of promise.

Highlights of the program include:

  • 7 nights in Jerusalem
  • 2 nights in Nazareth
  • 1 night in Amman
  • Princess Basma Center, East Jerusalem
  • Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, Salt (Jordan)
  • Ministry with Syrian refugees at St Paul’s, Ashrafiyeh (Amman)

Join us for this special program of pilgrimage, solidarity, and witness led by Fr Hosam Naoum, Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem.

Dr Robert Heaney, Director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological College will serve as a Visiting Professor for this program and help us to reflect on the significance of the Christian community in the Holy Land for the wider Anglican Communion.

Register now to secure your place in this very special program.

This year the Anglican Centre in Rome (ACR) is celebrating 50 years since its foundation in 1966. In collaboration with ACR, St George’s College Jerusalem is offering a special program of ecumenical studies in Jerusalem, the Holy City.

Division and Hope in the Holy Land: Learnings from Rome and Jerusalem
October 25, 2016 to November 1, 2016

Jerusalem-churches-skyline

This 8-day course will focus on Christian diversity and ecumenism, within the unique context of Jerusalem with its rich mixture of Christian communities.

The program will combine sessions that explore the ecumenical councils and the historical divisions of the church, with visits to several of the 13 official churches in Jerusalem, opportunities to participate in varied liturgies, as well as visits holy sites and charitable institutions. The course will address the main issues in the ecumenical dialogue, the challenges shared by Christian churches today, the differences that divide, and the hope for greater strength in unity.

Through this program, participants will:

  • Encounter the rich diversity of the Christian communities in the Jerusalem and the Holy Land;
  • Explore the cultural, historical and theological factors that created and sustain this diversity;
  • Express our solidarity with the minority Christian communities in societies with Muslim and Jewish majorities;
  • Visit the major holy sites for the Christian communities in Jerusalem; and
  • Witness the ministry of the churches to people in need.

The program includes two nights in Jordan, which is an integral part of the Holy Land.

Numbers are restricted to 20 persons. Register now to ensure your place in this unique program.

The course will be led by Archbishop David Moxon, Director of the ACR, and Canon Gregory Jenks, Dean of St George’s College. The course team will include Dom Henry Wansbrough and Bishop Jonathan Goodall, with input from other staff of the College and local scholars.

 

Toronto, Canada - August, 19 2015 - Elizabeth Raymer New logo style headshots of Toronto Star staff taken in Star studio in 2015. August 19, 2015

A special welcome to Elizabeth (Beth) Raymer from Toronto, who has come to serve as our Warden during April, May and June.

Beth has considerable experience in the Middle East, including a period as a volunteer at Ecco Homo Convent in the Old City in 2015.

The position description for the Warden describes the core responsibilities of the role as follows:

The Warden exercises a ministry of hospitality within the College community. The person serving as Warden embodies the charisma of hospitality that lies at the heart of our mission, and the principal focus for the Warden is to assist the College to be a welcoming and hospitable community. The particular focus for the Warden’s efforts are the guests who join our community for a short period of time while undertaking one or more courses with us.

In addition to her primary role as the coordinator of guests services, Beth will assist the College to develop and improve our communications and media strategies. As freelance journalist with extensive experience in commercial media, Beth will help us to develop and implement our capacity to communicate directly with alumni and friends around the world.

Welcome, Beth!

We are delighted to have you as a member of our College community for the next three months, and appreciate your willingness to contribute to our mission.

It is my privilege to welcome you to this first issue of our digital newsletter.

Changes in technology have offered us new opportunities for communication and online collaboration. Where once prospective students at St George’s College Jerusalem would write to the secretary of their regional committee and request a brochure to be sent to them by mail, now anyone with an Internet account can find all the information they need on the College web site.

Until now the College’s communication strategy has centered on people coming to our site, but now we are able to bring highlights from the web site direct to your digital mailbox.

The ‘push’ technologies that harvest our web site and prepare this digital newsletter, are supplemented by the diverse web of social media as we each share this news and information within our own circles of influence. By clicking on the share options at the bottom of each story you can multiply the impact of our communications, and assist us in making the College much better known.

The annual Christmas letter from the Dean will still be sent to those people who have attended a program at the College during the previous calendar year. Your regional committee will continue to mail out a printed magazine two or three times a year. When possible we shall offer regional events so that people can meet other alumni as well as the leadership team from the College. These traditional channels for communication will continue, but now we can reach out from Jerusalem with all the latest news and information on a more regular basis—and with greater immediacy.

The newsletter will be published just once each month. This will limit the electronic clutter that may otherwise overwhelm your email account. In between times you can always check the latest posts on our College blog site, join the conversations on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

We have some exciting times ahead of us at the College, and we want to share these developments with you so you can share the excitement and celebrate our success.

In this first issue we have a taste of the diverse developments already taking place in the life of the College:

  • We have welcomed our first Associate Dean, the Rev. Dr. Susan Lukens
  • We are preparing to farewell our Course Director, the Rev. Dr. Rodney Aist
  • We are honouring the passing of the late Canon John Emerton
  • We have a story about the many reasons why you might choose St George’s College Jerusalem for your next pilgrimage to the Holy Land
  • We have details of programs in the summer of 2016 and throughout 2017
  • We have the launch of SGC Online, our online learning center at St George’s College
  • We have news of a 10 year grant from the Porter Foundation to create a new partnership with Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University
  • We have an update on our arrangements for personal security and group safety
  • And we have a story about the Benshoof Cistern Museum with its wonderful collection of artefacts from the Tel Dothan excavations on the West Bank

I hope you enjoy this first issue of our newsletter, and that you will share it with family and friends.

Blessings from Jerusalem, the Holy!

Greg Jenks

Dean
St George’s College Jerusalem

 

The College depends on prayers and financial support from our alumni and friends worldwide. Your donations enable us to operate the College as a community of hospitality for pilgrims from around the world.

No gift is too small or too large.

If you would like to direct your gift to special purpose fund (e.g., Scholarships, the Faculty Endowment Fund, the Bible Garden, or the Library) please indicate that at the time of making your gift.

Depending on your country of residence, you may be able to claim a tax benefit as a result of your gift to the College. However, for this happen it is essential that your gift be made through the relevant regional committee.


united_kingdom_640Gifts from the UK

If you are in the United Kingdom and would like to make a tax deductible donation, please click here or download this printable form and enclose it with your gift.

 

 

american-flag-iconGifts from the US

If you are in the United States and would like to make a tax deductible donation, learn more here.

 

 

icon_flag_globeGifts from other countries

If you wish to donate to St. George’s College but you are not a resident of the United Kingdom or the United States, please scroll down and use the form below for a direct donation to the college.

 

 

Please note that UK and US residents are not eligible for tax benefits if your gift is made direct to the CollegeTo secure a tax benefit for your gift, please use the appropriate payment option for your country of residence.

For your convenience, each issue of the newsletter will include a simple set of links at the bottom of the page for you to choose the option that is relevant to your own place of residence any time that you are able to make a gift.

 

During the week 15–19 February 2016, the College hosted two special programs for clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

160217 Ordination DeaconsBetween Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon, the College Dean led a retreat program for three candidates preparing for ordination as Deacons: Jamil Khader, Faris Naoum, and David Roche. The three were ordained by Archbishop Suheil Dawani, assisted by Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

We wish the three new Deacons every blessing in their new ministries, in Jordan (Faris and Jamil) and in Beirut (David).

160217 Ordination
As the service ended, clergy gathered with the two Bishops and the three new Deacons for a photograph at the Nave Altar.

The following day, the clergy from the Diocese, including the three new Deacons, began a two day retreat program, which also included two Bible studies on the theme of sowing and reaping, led by the College Dean.

The retreat program included a visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (seen here with some of our clergy with the great dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the background), before prayers at the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and then a visit to the Princess Basma Centre on Mt Olives.

160218 Clergy Retreat

 

 

 

The Dean of St. George’s College, Jerusalem has announced the appointment of The Revd Dr. Susan Lukens as Associate Dean of the College.

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Dean Gregory Jenks, said, that Dr. Lukens’ appointment as Associate Dean marks the first time a woman has been appointed to a senior leadership position in The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and in particular at St. George’s College.

“Dr. Lukens brings a diverse set of gifts to this new leadership role at the College. Her background in higher education, her previous service to the College as Minister of Hospitality—and more recently as Communication and Marketing Officer—and her continuing roles as a trustee at Virginia Theological Seminary as well as an Adjunct Professor of Theology at Msalato Theological College at Dodoma in Tanzania, all converge to make Susan especially suited to the role of Associate Dean at St. George’s College. I very much look forward to working with Susan as we share the ministry of Dean to the College community here.”

Dr. Lukens’ new role takes effect immediately and is for an initial term of three years.

St George’s College in Jerusalem is an Anglican community of education, hospitality, pilgrimage, and reconciliation.

 

Contact information:

www.saintgeorgescollegejerusalem.com

Facebook: sgcjerusalem

Twitter: @sgcjerusalem

Email: dean@sgcjerursalem.org

Email: associatedean@sgcjerusalem.org

 

 

 

Behold the Man Photo

Men’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Jay Crouse, USA Course Leader and Organizer

“Don’t be a pew sitting, bless me sponge!  Get off your rear end and get engaged!”  This is how my friend, Tommy Klein, described American Christian men. Tommy may have said it a little more colorfully than I would describe it but he had a point.  During my two week pilgrimage in 2009, I became profoundly inspired and awakened by the spiritual conviction, passion and discipline of orthodox Jewish and Muslim men. As a 25 year leader in men’s ministry, I had a startling realization:  compared with these men of faith, many men actually are “pew-sitting, bless me sponges!”

How do we learn most profoundly? For me, it is in visiting a place where the historical events actually took place: the 9/11 Memorial, Gettysburg, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The immediacy of the place and facts become embedded in my being from these physical experiences.  So is the case with Israel and the history of the Christian faith as I learned from my pilgrimage in 2009.

Through my own pilgrimage journey, led by a passionate course leader, Fr. Andrew Mayes, from St George’s College, in Jerusalem, I became connected to the land itself in a profound way.   From the mysterious, soul captivity of the desert, to the refreshment of the Sea of Galilee region, to the powerful spiritual renewal of dwelling in sacred sights, the land of Israel did and has continued to call me back to dwell in the presence of God.

As I pondered this observation in the light of my ministry desire for men to live transformed lives through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit “popped” me with a Big, Holy Audacious Goal: lead men here on their pilgrimage and allow them the opportunity to experience the history and knowledge of Jesus Christ, a conviction, passion and discipline about our faith.  Thus, Behold the Man.

However, implementing such a BHAG, would take structure, strategy and resources.  To that end, I enlisted the invaluable help of two key advisor groups:  Fr. Andrew Mayes and the staff of St. George’s College, and Fr. Fred Robinson, Rector of Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota FL and the men of Redeemer.  By the fall of 2010, Behold the Man pilgrimage program to the Holy Land was in place. Our first pilgrimage date was set for the spring of 2011.

This venture would not be a traditional, commercial pilgrimage undertaking.  First, our leadership team committed to 10 years of annual men’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Secondly, participant fees would be set to cover only the actual costs and not fund any expenses of the leadership.  And last, God made it clear that our participant goal would be twelve men.

As our first team traveled in the Holy Land and visited every important site from Bethlehem to the Road to Emmaus, spiritual transformation and renewal began to take place. Every participant was getting “popped.” Our team of men, through experience and reflection, were overwhelmed by the historical settings and sacredness of the land itself as we experienced Jesus’ daily life in refreshing ways.

Each year brought thorough evaluation and with these new insights, we began to expand our territory.  In all of the following years, a priest has been treated to the pilgrimage experience.  Two men from the Diocese of South Carolina, Richard Moore and Joe Nicholson, stepped forward to launch a pilgrimage partnership with the Diocese of South Carolina.  Our vision was contagious!

Before we knew it, we were celebrating the fifth anniversary Behold the Man pilgrimage experiences.  Sixty-five men and eight women have attended as participants, with sixteen priests attending as pilgrims or serving as chaplains. Several men have chosen to go twice!

As 2011 pilgrim Pete Mogavero described: “My faith was strengthened by all I learned, the people I was exposed to, the experience of studying and praying with Christian brothers and the overwhelming sense of pride and friendship I had while interacting with both Israelis and Palestinians.  Neither words nor pictures can capture the true beauty of Jerusalem.  Each holy site brought a special appreciation and a new depth to my Christian understanding.”

Behold the Man continues as a vital program of a comprehensive men’s Christian formation process in the life of the local church. The 2016 Behold the Man pilgrimage trip will be April 17-April 30.  Please consider this deeply enriching pilgrimage opportunity for the men of your church.

For more information please contact Jay Crouse, USA Course Organizer at jaycrouse@aol.com or 941-320-0271.

phtos jay                            jayBehold the Man 2

 

A Report from Nepal

St George’s College is a place of gathering. It is also a community of connections. It’s called the Global Church.

When the Reverend Chuck Linquist of Minnesota, Lutheran clergy and director of the World Mission Prayer League, approached me at the end of a Palestine of Jesus course last February, wondering if I would be interested in volunteer teaching opportunities at their partner seminaries, I never doubted that the experience would be extremely beneficial to my own professional formation.

After Chuck sent word of my availability through his network, I soon received an offer by the Reverend Ram Kumar Budhathoki, principle of the Nepal Ebenezer Bible College (NEBC). Based in Kathmandu, NEBC was the first Nepali college accredited by the Asian Theological Association and remains the leader of Christian education and ministry formation in Nepal.

St George's College Course Director Rodney Aist with Pastor Tik
Pastor Tik with Rodney Aist

Last summer, the Reverend Honey Becker, then the Minister of Hospitality, told me that a pastor from Kathmandu, Tik Magar, had previously been on a Palestine of Jesus course. My email greeting to Tik was immediately answered by an invitation to preach at his church. I did so earlier today. It was a blessed morning full of music, worship, and preaching in the capacity-filled small hall of Bethel Church. He asked about Honey, Dean Graham Smith, and other staff at the college. He spoke appreciatively of how the course had strengthened his ministry.

In Nepal, Christian worship is on Saturday, and today was the second Saturday that I preached in a Nepali church. Last week, Principle Ram assigned me to a church about 10 km away on the outskirts of the city, and I took a taxi there with two students from NEBC. Upon arrival, I met the Reverend Prem Tamang, an MDiv graduate of Trinity Theological College, Singapore, the same seminary attended by Ram, my host. Prem’s church, only four years old, is a poor Christian community meeting in a small rented redbrick hall adjacent to the construction site of their new church building. Pastor Prem quickly showed me the site, explaining his vision for a medical clinic inside the church building. Then he looked at me rather strangely, and said that he recognized me. At first, I did not acknowledge his words; every shopkeeper in Jerusalem says that they know you! “No,” he said, “I have been on the St George’s College website.” Then he continued by naming Dean Graham Smith, registrar Genia Stephan, and talking about the Palestine of Jesus course, which he hopes to one day take.

St Georges College Course Director Rodney Aist with Pastor Prem
Rodney Aist and Prem Tamang

St George’s College has visibility in even the most unexpected alleys of Kathmandu! Christians around the world want to take our courses; they want to come of Jerusalem. We, too, want to widen our doors to the world-wide Anglican Communion and the Global Church. As a center of Christian formation, one vision of St George’s is to equip Christian leaders to strengthen, develop, and nurture the worldwide Church. It is happening in Kathmandu.

Before arriving that morning, I had not realized that Pastor Prem Tamang is Anglican. He is under the diocese of Singapore and will be ordained in May at Singapore’s St Andrew’s Cathedral. Beginning in June, he will hold a three-month leadership training course for approximately 15 pastors linked to the Anglican network here in Nepal. Once they are trained, he will prepare for a second cohort. Between this and his commitment to integrating Christian ministry with medical missions, Pastor Prem envisions church life in terms of the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Prem Preaches at his Church
Pastor Prem Preaches at his Church

Prem’s Living Hope Church is also Anglican. More accurately, they are a contextually-relevant Christian community in Nepal. Weekly worship is in the evangelical style of music, worship and preaching, but once a month they use the Anglican liturgy for communion. For Prem, the liturgy best expresses the mystery of God.

Before going to the Living Hope Church last week, the Reverend Dr. Gloria Mapangdol, the dean and principle of St Andrew’s Theological Seminary, the only Anglican seminary in the Philippines, emailed me about college business. I met her in Jerusalem last September at a reception given by Archbishop Suheil Dawani for the International Commission of the Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue. Conversations with Gloria has quickly led to a budding partnership between St Andrew’s, Philippines and St George’s, Jerusalem with one of her senior faculty members coming to Jerusalem this summer to take a Palestine of Jesus course.

Building Site for Pastor Prem's Church
Building Site for Pastor Prem’s Church

When I emailed her back I asked if, by chance, she had any Nepali students in her seminary. I had not realized that she, too, was a graduate of Trinity, Singapore. Two days later, she replied: “When I was at Trinity, I had good friends from Nepal; Ram Kumar and Prem. Maybe you have met them.” I replied, “I am staying at Ram’s house and preached at Prem’s church yesterday!”

Once I posted photos of Prem’s church, the Reverend Charles Tewer of Singapore, who was on the January course along with the Reverend David Lee, both graduates of Trinity, posted this on Facebook: “Hey, that’s my friend’s church!” Strangely, Asia seems like a tiny place!

Connections are not new to the Church family, and I am admittedly indulging in the revelations of my Nepali experience. But the following are certainly true:

  1. I did not expect these connections when I decided to come to Kathmandu.
  2. St George’s College is proudly committed to developing its Asian regional network.
  3. You can help St George’s College realize its vision to equip Christian leaders of the worldwide Church through your designated gifts to our global scholarship fund. Christian leaders around the world want to come to St George’s. Maybe it is time to be an armchair pilgrim, vicariously experiencing the Holy Land through your gifts and generosity so that someone else can walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

For more information on our global initiative or how to make a contribution to the scholarship program, please contact me at rodney@sgcjerusalem.org.

Finally, last night over dinner, I was asking Ram about the Nepal Ebenezer Bible College’s various partners. When he mentioned the Church of Scotland, I was initially surprised. I spent two years in two different parishes working as a Church of Scotland pastor. Then I realized that Ram’s contact person with the Kirk was obviously the convener of the Asia Committee of the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council; someone I first met in over twelve years ago!

We no longer live in a denominational world; we live in a Global Church! Thanks be to God!

Postscript: Thanks to a generous donation from the Diocese of Texas for scholarships, the North American Committee hopes to fulfill Prem’s desire to take a course at St. George’s College in the coming year.

 

St. George’s College is expanding its relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem. We have just finished hosting our third annual clergy retreat for all the clergy of the diocese. Our speaker was Clare Amos of the World Council of Churches. Clare is a former course director at the college. She has written a marvelous little book entitled “Peace-ing Together Jerusalem,” which concludes with the words “The task of the Christian is not to be neutral—but to be torn in two.” She gave three splendid lectures on themes from the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.

 

We also are expanding our relationship to include “Parish Days” for parishes in the north around Nazareth, parishes in the West Bank, and parishes in Jordan. People of the diocese visited the new excavation at Migdal. This is the town associated with Mary of Magdalene, where a whole village has been uncovered together with a market place and a synagogue. We also visited Kursi, the site of the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5), and Capernaum, Jesus’ home base during his three-year ministry in Galilee preaching, teaching, and healing.

Before Easter we will gather the churches around Nablus in the West Bank to visit some of the biblical sites, such as the church of the Samaritan woman. Within the year we hope to do something similar with the churches around Amman, Jordan. As a followup, we hope to receive clusters of parishes at the college for an overnight in Jerusalem with a day walking the events of Holy Week.

 

Our ministries serve to sustain and strengthen our Christian presence as we teach respect and concern for all people, bringing hope to many, regardless of faith, where the light of hope is often dim. With a dwindling church membership due to emigration caused by local strife and economic hardship, the ministry here has more than the usual challenges. The maintenance of the historic Arab Christian presence, the ‘Living Stones,’ is vital, therefore, to the future stability of the region as we put our faith into action ‘loving our neighbors as ourselves.’ ~ The Most Reverend Suheil S. Dawani, Archbishop in Jerusalem