This is Bishop Phoebe Roaf of the Diocese of West Tennessee here with a message about the situation in the Middle East. My heart has been broken at the tragedy that is unfolding in the place where Jesus lived his earthly life and did his earthly ministry and the atrocities committed by Hamas against innocent civilians. Those actions are totally inexcusable, and my heart certainly goes out for all of the innocent persons who are suffering. And yet there are innocent persons in Gaza, especially children, suffering as well. And so I wasn’t really sure that my voice would add anything to this conversation about a conflict that has literally been going on for generations.
I’m just returning from the 200th anniversary of the founding of my seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, in Alexandria. We had an opportunity to hear from the Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Reverend Hosam Naoum. He is the Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and so he came to us live via Zoom to give us a sense of the situation on the ground, which as you might imagine, is very dire.
Archbishop Naoum has asked for a couple of things for us.
First, he certainly asked for our prayers. On Tuesday, October the 17th, he’s asking for all persons of goodwill to join in a day of prayer and fasting to the extent that we can participate. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Memphis will be hosting a prayer service this Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. if you’d like to join other Episcopalians, but you can also pray and fast at home. He’s asking his people to fast from sunrise to sunset, but if that’s too strenuous, consider it to be a day of Lenten fasting. Perhaps there’s one thing that you can give up on that day in solidarity with those who are suffering.
The Archbishop also reminded us that while we hear so much about the conflict between Muslims and Jews in the media, Christians also live in the Holy Land. Palestinian Christians who live in Gaza are caught up in this conflict along with everybody else. He reminded us that there is a 60-bed Episcopal hospital in Gaza that is providing relief to anyone who was injured, and it is running short now of supplies.
If you feel called to make a monetary donation to support fellow Episcopalians in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which is headquartered here in the United States, is a great organization to contribute to, and they can get resources to those most directly impacted by this crisis.
Click here to make a gift: https://afedj.org/
Brothers and sisters, this conflict has been going on for generations, and I dare say that God himself will be the only one who can resolve it.
Our thoughts and our prayers are with everybody impacted by this horrific situation, and hopefully this Tuesday on October 17, you’ll find some way to be a part of praying for peace in Jerusalem.