Fair Witness Commends the ELCA Churchwide Assembly for Adopting a Productive Stance on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict
NEW YORK, Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East commends the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“ELCA”) for adopting a positive action on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict at its Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Florida, August 18, 2011.
The Assembly action contains three main points: (i) encouraging a deeper understanding of the conflict “including the perspectives of other faith communities, and receive, read, and discuss the Kairos Palestine document . . .”; (ii) positive economic investment in Palestine; and (iii) “decline to undertake a review of the investment of funds managed within the ELCA . . . ” thereby expressly rejecting divestment.
According to Rev. Thomas Prinz, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Leesburg, Virginia, “this is an extremely productive approach. Lutherans must seek a deeper understanding of the conflict by listening to all voices — Jewish Israelis as well as Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Because the Kairos Palestine document is an ‘authentic word from our brothers and sisters in the Palestinian Christian community,’ we must indeed receive, read and respect it. But by declining to endorse or commend it, the ELCA is free to reject those aspects of the document that are flawed and problematic.”
Rev. Dr. Scott Ickert Senior, pastor of Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arlington, Virginia, says “I am heartened by the prophetic stance of this action. The Assembly made no comment on U.S. policy, but looked inward and encouraged the church to make positive investments in Palestine as a way of advancing the cause of Palestinian sovereignty.”
Rev. Dr. Darlis Swan, who served as Associate Director of the Department for Ecumenical Affairs of the ELCA for over a decade, said she was “very pleased that the Assembly expressly rejected divestment by ‘declin[ing] to undertake a review of the investment of funds managed within the ELCA.’”
“There was a motion from the floor to remove the words ‘decline to’ which would have changed the action from an express rejection of divestment to an endorsement of divestment,” notes Rev. Swan. “After a spirited debate the Assembly defeated that motion by an 84% majority. The Assembly thus sent a very strong message against divestment from Israel and I commend them for it.”
SOURCE Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East