An Open Letter to President Donald Trump From a Bishop of Jerusalem

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I urge you to reflect upon the foundational values of the United States and of Jesus, and to seek a different path toward the twin goals of security and opportunity in the land of the free.

By Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
February 1, 2017


“Our Lord not only commanded us to welcome the stranger, Jesus made it clear that when we welcome the stranger into our homes and our hearts — we welcome him.” (Matt 25:35)


Dear Mr. President,

Salaam and grace to you from Jerusalem, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I write to you from the Holy City of Jerusalem in a spirit of prayer. I pray that your presidency will be a fruitful one. I pray that under your leadership, the United States of America will continue to uphold and promote its time-honored values of diversity, equality, pursuit of happiness, and of liberty and justice for all.

I pray that as President, you will uphold and promote these values, not only for the citizens of your country, but also for your neighbors. May your commitment to the foundational values of your country extend also to those living in areas of conflict and suffering. I offer this prayer from my office in Jerusalem, where we are still praying and working for a peaceful, just solution for the two peoples and three religions of this land. We long to realize the liberty, justice, and equality in diversity that your country exemplifies for the world.

I have heard about the recent executive decisions you have taken regarding immigrants and refugees, and I am worried.

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Bishop Saves 226 Hostages from ISIS

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Bishop Mar Afram Athneil, right, greets Maryam David Thalya after her release from more than a year of captivity by Isis. (photo: AP)

Assyrian Christian Mar Afram Athneil raised millions of dollars to pay ransom

By Lori Hinnant / The Independent
December 6, 2016


“Honestly, this man should go down as a saint, the things that he’s done, the sacrifices he’s made to help these people. He’s refusing to leave Syria until all his flock is secured.”
— Aneki Nissan


Deep inside Syria, a bishop worked secretly to save the lives of 226 members of his flock from the Islamic State group — by amassing millions of dollars from his community around the world to buy their freedom.

They were seized from the Khabur River valley in northern Syria, among the last holdouts of a minority that had been chased across the Mideast for generations. On February 23, 2015, ISIS fighters attacked 35 Christian towns simultaneously, sweeping up scores of people.

It took more than a year, and videotaped killings of three captives, before all the rest were freed.

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Clergy on Twitter: A Sermon in 140 Characters

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Bishop Gregory H. Rickel takes a selfie with the choir at St. Columba Church in Kent, WA (Photo courtesy of Jenny Jimenez)

More ministers, priests and rabbis see Facebook, Instagram and other social media as a core part of ministries; posting on martyrs and movies

By Clare Ansberry / The Wall Street Journal
November 8, 2016


Social media is as much a ministry as visiting the sick in hospitals. “It’s where we need to be,” Bishop Coyne says. “It goes to the core of spreading the good news.”


Every morning, Burlington, Vt., Bishop Christopher Coyne wakes at 5:30 in his rectory home, prays, reads Scripture, and comes up with the day’s first tweets. By 8 a.m., his followers on Twitter and Facebook know the day’s saint and gospel reading and the latest news from the pope. In the evening, the Catholic bishop often posts again — a short video of his visit to a school or a picture of dinner, like the pork cutlets with a cherry-tomato-and-caper sauce that he recently made. For him, social media is as much his ministry as visiting the sick in hospitals. “It’s where we need to be,” he says. “It goes to the core of spreading the good news.”

After arriving at a new post in Olympia, Wash., Episcopal Bishop Greg Rickel, a former hospital administrator with a master’s degree in communications, hired an internet strategist to update church websites and a young hipster communications director to offer classes on Twitter for clergy and set up Facebook pages for small rural churches. Bishop Rickel blogs about gun violence and the Central American refugee crisis, and posts his sermons on his webpage, below a picture of him taking selfies with children. His goal, in part, is to reach those 35 and younger. “We have to learn their language and the world they live in,” says the 53-year-old bishop, whose Facebook home page features a picture of him with his surfboard.

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