Over 60 Anglican and Roman Catholic representatives, including Revd Paula York from Peterborough Diocese, gathered at Lambeth Palace last week for FHL’s second national Diocesan Coordinators conference. With 25 Catholic and Anglican dioceses represented, it reflected FHL’s ecumenical and apolitical credentials. Dean Hosam Naoum of St Georges Cathedral in Jerusalem urged those attending to engage in “hope filled action” by working together through FHL to support vulnerable Christians living in the Holy Land. The day focused on the importance of pilgrimage, particularly the experience of ecumenical pilgrimage, and the growth and success of FHL since its foundation in 2009.
The Rt Revd. Dr. John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, who chaired the morning session said,
“The strength of FHL shows how God can grow significant initiatives out of the smallest things. FHL helps us in our role as Christians to bring hope in what can appear to be a hopeless situation.”
Peter Rand, FHL’s Vice Chairman and Executive Trustee Peter outlined the growth in FHL since its formation in 2009. He traced its origins back to the grass roots actions of a small group of returning pilgrims, led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, so moved by the plight of their fellow Christians they had to act. Since then the charity has generated an income of over £3.1 million and directly supports 2,000 Christian families living in the Holy Land.
Peter, who is about to make his 20th visit to the West Bank and Israel said;
“Our achievements in the 7 short years of our existence have been significant. We have a Bethlehem based Holy Land Committee, who are our eyes and ears in the West Bank. Unlike many charities working in this area, we are registered with the Palestinian National Authority as an NGO, and have our own local Palestinian bank account. This means we can swiftly transfer money to support Christian families and projects in our key areas of education, employment, health and housing. “
“FHL supports Christians wherever they live in the Holy Land. These include the needy Christians in the hard-pressed yet resilient communities of Gaza, West Bank Christians facing a life of water shortages and restricted travel, and Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan forced to flee for their faith. I have recently met with some very poor Christian migrant groups in Tel Aviv and Jaffa with a view to FHL supporting those needy Christian communities.”
Conference headline speaker, Dean Hosam Naoum, thanked FHL for their ecumenical effort in supporting the ‘Living Stones’ of the Holy Land and quoted Luke 12:32 ‘Do not be afraid little flock”. He reminded delegates;
“Christian emigration deprives our churches and communities when the Holy Land needs our loving service of transformation. Religion should be part of the solution and not the problem; transforming the love of power to the power of love”.
To find out more about the work of FHL or to make a donation please visit http://www.friendsoftheholyland.org.uk