Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem while Denied Entry to Gaza at the Israeli EREZ Crossing Point, reaffirms his Commitment to Peace and Reconciliation among Palestinians and Israelis
Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani

The Diocese of Jerusalem
The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East

The Right Rev’d Suheil S. Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem that includes Gaza, after two hours of waiting was denied entry into the Gaza Strip at the Israeli EREZ security Crossing Point this morning along with Lutheran Bishop Mounib Younan.

Both Bishops were on a Pastoral Visit to include the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and to members of their communities as part of a five member delegation of the Jerusalem Heads of Church.  The decision for the Pastoral visit was made two weeks ago and negotiations for the permits were begun with the Israeli authorities for that purpose. They had been informed that their request to enter Gaza had been granted.

The stated decision to deny them entry into the Gaza Strip by the Israeli EREZ authorities was that they were both Palestinians, even though both hold Jerusalem Israeli ID’s.  Among those from the delegation allowed to enter the Gaza Strip was Archbishop Aris Shirvanian of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem (who also holds the same Identification Card as both Bishops), Ethiopian Archbishop Abba Matias, and Latin Church Patriarch Fouad Twal.

Bishop Dawani in a statement on arrival back at his Diocesan Offices at St. George’s Cathedral stated:

“I deeply regret the decision by those at the EREZ Crossing Point to deny me, a recognized Anglican Bishop of the Church in Jerusalem with pastoral responsibilities in Gaza, this important pastoral opportunity during the present quiet in the Cease Fire,  to visit my diocesan Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City.  The Hospital has been carrying a great responsibility for the diocese in providing high quality healthcare to the Gaza communities for over a Century of exemplary medical and humanitarian services.”

“During this Gaza Conflict”, the Bishop stressed “our hospital and the dedicated heroic staff provided urgent emergency, in patient, and outpatient care to many hundreds of civilians, children women and men,  tragically caught in the fray of the military operations.  The staff ministered to the wounded, injured and the dying under great conditions of stress.  Their devotion and work was admirable in the highest tradition of medical ethics and Christian compassion.  The purpose of my visit to Gaza, along with my colleagues,  the Heads of Churches, was to pastorally affirm such outstanding services rendered, and be the pastor that I am to our people”.

“With sense of great sadness” he said, “and having just returned from a Washington D.C. visit yesterday, I deeply regret such a denial of entry, on whatever grounds so stated, by the authorities.  Gaza remains a portion of my diocese in the administration of my pastoral duties and responsibilities as a Bishop of the Church for the care of my staff and people.  The denial of entry to myself and Bishop Mounib Younan, a close colleague who has been a collegial and active partner in the ministry which began between our two Churches Lutherans and Anglicans since 1841, is reprehensible.  I say this, because it reflects badly on those in authority at these “crossing points”, and which the international community had demanded be open to humanitarian endeavors – and most certainly pastoral care is an important factor in such services”.

“In spite of this denial of entry today” the Bishop emphasized, “I will try, and try again to reach our Hospital and people in Gaza to provide the pastoral care as well as the necessary review and supervision of our Hospital, as both its Chairman and President.  My intention here is to care for our people and staff and to insure a continued impeccable healthcare and other related services rendered to the community.”

“As Anglicans” the Bishop continued, “a faith community across 130 countries, and as caring Christians, the third largest Christian family, and within our collegial interfaith family partnership here in this Diocese of Jerusalem that serves five countries, we have had a rich tradition of devoted and selfless non-sectarian service to all those in need, and certainly in critical areas of healthcare and education”.

Bishop Dawani emphasized his commitment to peace and communal understanding by saying: “Regardless of what happened today at EREZ, I will continue the work of Peace and Reconciliation during this difficult time that we face.  And as I have always said, we must keep Faith and Hope alive against all odds as we work in earnest for a just peace and security for all Palestinians and Israelis alike.   I remain committed to a two State Solution that will bring reconciliation and harmony.  A solution that brings betterment for all of our communities in Israel and Palestine, to enjoy the blessings of a far better quality of life that they justly deserve with the attendant economic and social opportunities to build the foundation, the fabric of an enduring equitable society”.

Easter Message 2009
Bishop Suheil Dawani

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Salaam and warm greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ from here in Jerusalem to all of our friends and partners, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The great celebration of Easter will soon be upon us. The Easter acclamation noted above will soon be said or sung with enthusiasm among Christians all over the world. The world-wide body of Christ will join in offering our alleluias of thanksgiving, praise and celebration for our Lord’s victory over sin and death. Christ is risen. Alleluia!

These words proclaiming Christ’s resurrection are central to our faith in God’s overwhelming love for us. Each Easter celebration, with hearts and souls full of hope for the future, supports each Christian in the faith that God’s goodness is more powerful than the greatest evil. Easter is our time to celebrate the truth of the power of God to change our hearts from despair to hope, from sorrow to joy and from death to life.

To be risen to new life is essential to our celebration of Easter. We, in our lives today, do not escape Good Friday’s day of suffering any more than our Lord did. We Christians are a people who know suffering is part of life, yet we are not defined by our suffering. We are defined by our love. We are a people who know struggle and hardship, yet we are not defined by such things. We are defined by our compassion. We are a people who face death, yet we are not afraid. We are defined by our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who died, yes indeed . . . and is risen. We die from an old life with him in order that we may be risen to new life with him. Alleluia! In a time when the world economy is in such turmoil, when violence continues to erupt along ethnic and racial divisions, when peace seems so distant, Easter assures us of a future. The power of Christ’s victory over death empowers us to choose life over death. In choosing life we find new possibilities unfolding before us. Is it possible that the Christian community in the Land of the Holy One will be strengthened in its witness for peace and reconciliation? Is it possible that politicians and those who shape public opinion will lay their agendas aside and use their God-given gifts and talents to work for peace with justice for all people? Is it possible that the lion and lamb will rest together without fear of one another? Is it possible a world economy may be created in which poverty and the destructive exploitation of God’s creation is ended? Is it possible that someone might love us all so much that he would die for us, even die on a cross? Is it possible that God’s power of love overcame death once and for all for you and for all who believe? Easter is the time to celebrate all that is possible with God, for with God all things are possible. Alleluia. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia! Happy Easter!

Christmas Letter 2011
Bishop Suheil Dawani

Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to His People on Earth!

And so we begin our Christmas celebration, with the glorious news of the birth of a baby and the hope that this holds for the world.
In all things we are told to give ‘thanks to God’ and in all we do ‘give the Glory to God’. With this in mind we look back upon a year filled with thanksgiving and look forward to the wonder and splendor that God has in store for us.

I am thankful for the productive Annual Majma that was held in Amman, Jordan this past November. Our theme for this Majma was ‘Serving to the Glory of God’. We focused on our institutions and the work we do to the Glory of God and in the service of our communities. Our schools, healthcare institutions and churches glorify God through the educating and teaching of our future generations, the caring for the sick and the needy, the elderly and the marginalized.

We give glory to God through the example of our Christian principles and moral values, which are rooted in our faith. We look forward to working together to build future programs and projects that will benefit all people, both physically and spiritually. In Christ we are called to alleviate the suffering of our people, our friends and neighbors without regard to race, religion, gender or politics.

The hope of the church is in Christ Jesus. Through Him we are working toward a stronger unity, greater love, and deeper faithfulness in our mission and ministry among all Christians and non-Christians. And so, just as Jesus embraces the world, so too does our community embraces the world. Living in the land of the Holy One, we open wide our doors to welcome the world into our midst. Our churches regularly greet the pilgrims who come to visit, see and learn of the work Jesus continues to do through us.

As they come to Bethlehem to kneel at the foot of the manger, so too do we gaze upon the Christ child, small, vulnerable and innocent.
In this land of so many passionate commitments and conflicts, we celebrate again Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation. It is through the courage and strength of the Holy Spirit that we can continue to serve to the Glory of God.

It is with great honor and profound humility that I minister among you as your Bishop here. All I do is in the service and Glory to God. I pray that as you celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, this Christmastide, be full of the joy and deep peace that comes in knowing that you are dearly loved by our God who so loved the world that He gave us his only Son.

Merry Christmas.
Bishop Suheil Dawani
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

Christmas Message 2012
HE. Bishop Suheil Dawani

Christmas Letter 2012

“Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to His People on Earth!”

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace’. Isaiah9:6

In all things we are told to give ‘thanks to God’ and in all we do ‘give the Glory to God’. With this in mind we look back upon a year filled with thanksgiving and look forward to the wonder and splendor that God has in store for us.

I am thankful for the productive Annual Majma that was held in Jerusalem this past November. Our theme for this Majma was ‘You Shall be My Witnesses’. We focused on our institutions and the work we do to the Glory of God and in the service of our communities. Our schools, healthcare institutions and churches glorify God through the educating and teaching of our future generations, the caring for the sick and the needy, the elderly and the marginalized. We give glory to God through the example of our Christian principles and moral values, which are rooted in our faith. We look forward to working together to build future programs and projects that will benefit all people, both physically and spiritually. In Christ we are called to alleviate the suffering of our people, our friends and neighbors, without regard to race, religion, or gender.

The hope of the Church is in Christ Jesus. Through Him we are working toward a stronger unity, greater love, and deeper faithfulness in our mission and ministry. And so, just as Jesus embraces the world, so too, we embrace the world. Living in the land of the Holy One, we open wide our doors to welcome the world into our midst. Our churches regularly greet the pilgrims who come to see and learn of the work Jesus continues to do through us. As they join us to kneel at the foot of the manger in Bethlehem, together we gaze upon the Christ child, small, vulnerable and innocent, and yet with divine power to save the world.

In this land of so many passionate commitments and conflicts, we celebrate again Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation. It is through the courage and strength of the Holy Spirit that we can continue to glorify God and serve God’s people.

It is with great honor and profound humility that I minister among you as your Bishop here. I pray that as you celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, this Christmastide, you will be filled with the joy and peace that comes in knowing that you are dearly loved by our God who so loved the world that He gave us his only Son.

Merry Christmas, Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem.

Christmas Message 2015
Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani

By Middle East & Europe – Global Ministries on November 30, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I write this message from the Holy City of Jerusalem to wish you a peaceful Advent, as we journey together towards the Incarnation in a stable in Bethlehem.

The message of the Prince of Peace is dear to us, and so important for us to meditate and reflect on throughout our earthly pilgrimage.  In this Diocese, I have called all to reflect on their ministries, recognizing that situations are not easy: in Syria people pace extraordinary difficulties.  We have had to close our church – I hope temporarily – in Damascus.  In Jordan the church’s understanding of hospitality – as throughout Europe and the world – is challenged in welcoming the refugee: to welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ in our midst (Matt 25:33).  In Lebanon we are challenged again to respond with compassion in the wake of horrific violence in November.  And in Palestine and Israel, we are called daily to seek and pray for peace between Palestinian and Israeli.

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ, when we ready ourselves for His presence revealed in the world.  The Prince of Peace teaches us to serve and shoes is that through the Holy Spirit we must not give up hope when thinks seem hopeless; that in the face of violence we must not be tempted to hate, but that we must have compassion.  The Prince of Peace shows us what healing is, between neighbors and between communities. I pray daily for those who grieve, that the Holy Spirit, the comforter (John 14:26), may grant then solace and healing in their hearts.

As part of our discipline of prayer here in Jerusalem, we have invited our friends, far and near, to use at the beginning of Advent and on Christmas Eve as special litany, which is set our below.  This litany was written as the troubles here in Jerusalem escalated and I believe can be used in this Diocese and adapted for other places where there is conflict, pain, and suffering.

I pray that God is with you, your families and your friends this Advent and Christmastide that He may inspire you in your ministry, wherever you may be.  May Christ sow a seed of love in your heart that pours out in abundance (2 Cor.9:6) through your life.

Grace and peace,

The Most Revd Suheil S. Dawani
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem & the Middle East

A Litany for Peace in the Holy Land

This litany has evolved out of prayers said daily in the Cathedral Church of St George-the-Martyr, Jerusalem, as a result of the tensions, violence, paranoia and fear that has swept through Jerusalem and is continuing to affect the entire region since October 2015.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

All: Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

All: Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

All: Grant us your peace.

Lord, have mercy.

All: Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the birth in Bethlehem of the Word made flesh, your Son, Jesus Christ; who dwelt among us full of grace and truth.

For your love and your goodness

All: We give you thanks, O God

We thank you for his life; his death here in Jerusalem as he carried our sins and suffering, and for his glorious Resurrection in which he gave us new life with him.

For your love and your goodness

All: We give you thanks, O God

We thank you for entrusting to us the ministry of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace-making for the healing of your creation.

For your love and your goodness

All: We give you thanks, O God

We pray for all victims of bloodshed, violence, and persecution. We especially pray for all in danger and those fleeing persecution in the Holy Land, and throughout the Middle East.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

We pray for all who grieve for those they have loved and lost as a result of violence, particularly those grieving in Palestine and Israel.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

We pray for the Holy Spirit to guide all leaders, especially on those who lead the peoples in the Land of the Holy One, the United Nations and upon all in authority, so Your people may seek ways of peace and justice.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

Heavenly Father, we praise and glorify you. You are our only refuge in a troubled world.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

The Lord be with you.

All: And also with you.

Let us pray.

All: Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to us and the people of all the nations a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that all of your people may use their liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Christmas Message 2017
Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani

[The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East]

My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

In this period of Advent, we wait expectantly for the joy and peace that we celebrate with the coming of Christ. We wait in the knowledge that God as Emmanuel is already alongside us, within us, and encircling us, as we journey together on our pilgrimage through life. Sadly, we, as one human race, encounter suffering on a daily basis; suffering manifesting itself in deplorable acts of hatred within communities, between nations, and between neighbours; and suffering that we experience through loss and pain as human beings in a broken world.

It is this pain that calls us as Christians to prayer, and to fall to our knees before the infant Christ. We cry out for change in our world, for nations to act towards other nations as friends; for neighbours to reach out to neighbors as sisters and brothers; and for a whole community that cares, respects and responds to the needs of the other, particularly to the needs of the vulnerable and the marginalized. We are reminded that in Christ’s commandment that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our mind, all our strength and all our soul, and that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, that the change we pray for in our communities must start with a change from within ourselves. We know that we must always seek, however hard it may be, to become people who love our neighbours more deeply, revering them as an embodiment of Jesus Christ.

As I write to you from Jerusalem, I am more aware that again we are in a time of uncertainty, conflict and fear across the Middle East. Families and individuals this Christmas will again be concerned and worried about the future; yearning for signs of light and hope. As conflict continues in Syria and Yemen; as acts of terror are perpetrated in Egypt and Iraq; as millions flee their homes, as people suffer the world over, we are called back to that simple faith revealed in the mystery of the Christmas story.

Into this broken world we believe was born Hope and Love, revealed to us not in a grand palace surrounded by the trappings of power and prestige, but revealed to us in a lowly manger, surrounded by people of simplicity – shepherds – with Mary as his mother, a woman of immeasurable courage and strength. The incarnate one – Christ – came to us, to give us faith that God is with us whatever we face, that God will comfort and heal us and lead us into new pastures.

I am always confident and inspired by what we as Christians have the capacity to do. Those who travel to our Province that they learn so much through our witness, and through our mission, how to live faithful Christian lives. We may be small in number but Christ’s love in our hearts gives us a tenacity in our ministry to transform the lives of those we come into contact with and support, whether that be in our congregations, schools, hospitals and other institutions, or in our ministry to those outcasts of society. I want to thank all of you who are involved in building God’s Kingdom on earth, reconciling communities and being the salt and light in this world. I want to encourage you in the task at hand, and pray God’s Holy Spirit comforts and strengthens you in all you do.

Let us be inspired by the shepherds, who, casting off fear, rushed to see Jesus, and returned praising and glorifying God. Let us worship God, and through him, be his hands and feet in this world. I wish you all a very blessed advent, happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

Grace and Peace.

The Most Rev. Suheil S Dawani
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
President-Bishop (Primate) of the Episcopal Church in Jerualem & The Middle East

Christmas Message from Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani