13 November 2023: Archbishop in Jerusalem addresses General Synod
The Archbishop in Jerusalem has addressed members of the Church of England’s General Synod, describing the ‘difficult and controversial’ task of seeking peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. On the first day of its November 2023 group of sessions, the Most Revd Hosam Naoum spoke to the Synod by video from Jerusalem, asking members of the Synod to hold both Palestinians and Israelis in their prayers following an ‘eruption of violence’ since the attacks of October 7.
The text and video of Archbishop Hosam’s full address to the General Synod is available online here.
13 November 2023: Praying for Israel & Gaza
In November 2023, a new group, chaired by Bishop Martin, was formed to take forward the relationship between the Diocese of Southwark and Diocese of Jerusalem building on the Jerusalem-Southwark Covenant Agreement.
The group is small and at this stage and is designed simply to respond to the current crisis in Israel/Palestine. It will form more fully and more clearly identify its priorities in due course. The group’s current members are Bishop Martin Gainsborough, Revd Peter Welby, Revd Canon Wendy Robins and The Venerable Moira Astin.
In a highly charged political context, it can sometimes be difficult for those who lead public prayers in our churches to know how best to do this. We have put together a few pointers which may be useful to them. These include prayer points given to us mainly by our partners there. Do, please, share them with your intercessors if you think it might be helpful. This page will be updated to reflect the evolving prayer needs of the situation.
We would also encourage people to reach out to synagogues and mosques in their areas to build and strengthen relationships.
In addition, Bishop Christopher has asked that parishes consider giving a percentage of their collections from Advent/Christmas services to the Archbishops of Jerusalem and Canterbury’s joint appeal for the work of the Diocese of Jersualem and the Middle East which has been affected by the devastating war in Israel/Palestine. Donations can be made via the Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association (JMECA) cafdonate.cafonline.org/24666
31 October 2023
Statement from the Church of England’s House of Bishops
An appeal for Peace
“They shall not learn war any more” (Isaiah 2.4)
Isaiah’s vision of peace was spoken to a nation in confusion and social discord, divided and fearful. It was a vision of a peace that, though not yet realised, was always to be sought in faith through living in obedient righteousness and generous community in society. It is repeated numerous times in both the Old Testament and in the New as the ultimate destiny of creation, a state of peace, righteousness and harmony. As Christians we believe that the fulfilment of this vision and the gift of peace, individually and collectively, is found in Jesus Christ.
The War in Israel and Gaza
As Bishops of the Church of England we condemn the terrorist actions of Hamas on 7th October. Hamas has killed civilians without mercy, defiled their bodies, treated the most vulnerable brutally and taken hostages. Its continued indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli targets puts civilian structures and individuals at risk. All this is built on its denial of the right of Israel to exist. Hamas has oppressed the people it was originally elected to serve and has put them in harm’s way by using them as human shields. Its actions are a violation of international law.
We must also reflect on the actions that Israel has taken in response. We affirm absolutely Israel’s right to self-defence. We wholly support the duty of the Government of Israel to protect its citizens. We echo the concerns raised by President Biden about understandable anger and deep trauma not determining strategy and actions. Israel’s right to self-defence needs to be exercised in adherence to the key principles of international humanitarian law.
The huge number of civilians killed in three weeks of bombardment, principally in Gaza City, and the immense suffering of a people herded south with no escape, are a humanitarian catastrophe. Even defined evacuation routes have been hit. Places of sanctuary and gathering have been bombed. Aid workers have been killed and wounded in large numbers. Critical services like healthcare, water, and electricity have been cut, while the military siege of Gaza has meant that no adequate humanitarian response has been possible.
Also gravely concerning are the reports of rising numbers of Palestinians killed in the West Bank by inhabitants of settlements which are illegal under international law. In mixed communities in Israel, where people have generally lived peacefully side by side, Israeli Arabs now find themselves subject to abuse, harassment and discrimination.
The United Kingdom, Islamophobia and antisemitism
In this country we have seen heightened tensions and threats to social cohesion. We are grateful for and stand with all those faith and community leaders who have made efforts at local and national level to maintain friendships and relationships across some of the sharpening political divides. We also condemn the rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks.
Appeals by the Bishops of the Church of England
In the UK we call for intercommunity groups to maintain the closest possible contact. We pledge ourselves to pray for and take public actions in support of our fellow citizens of Jewish or Islamic faith. We recognise that within the church, too, we must acknowledge our own differences on this matter with care and generosity. The way individuals and communities act here and now could shape and influence what happens next. So, while we must condemn utterly those who foster fear and hatred in our communities, we must also galvanise and support those who are modelling something different and seeking the way of peace.
Recognising the troubled history, we nevertheless cling to the longstanding vision of a peaceful region where the peoples of Israel and Palestine can live in security, justice, peace and harmony in their own lands, we therefore appeal:
- For Hamas to release all hostages unconditionally and unharmed.
- For immediate humanitarian pauses that will enable the wounded and the most vulnerable to be evacuated under ICRC or UN supervision, holding out hope for a ceasefire in the longer term.
- For safe areas to be established across Gaza with communications, food, water and medical support, under international supervision.
- For the Israeli Government to protect the population of the Occupied Territories and arrest anyone threatening them, without fear or favour.
- For all parties to this conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and to take all necessary steps to minimise harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.
We unite ourselves with the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum, and Christian leaders in the Holy Land in calling for sustained and faithful prayer by all Christians for peace and justice.
17 October 2023
As the conflict in the Holy Land continues to escalate, Christians around the world are being urged to mark Tuesday 17 October as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for all people affected by the conflict in Israel and Gaza.
This is in response to a statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, including the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum. The leading ecumenical group in Jerusalem issued the call after an emergency meeting “for prayer and consultation over the grave humanitarian crisis that has befallen all of us”.
They said: “our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic level and death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.”
The leaders say that the order to evacuate the north of Gaza – the displacement of 1.1 million people to southern Gaza – “will only deepen an already disastrous humanitarian catastrophe.”
They say: “Gaza’s entire population is being deprived of electricity, water, fuel supplies, food and medicine. According to UN sources, 423,000 people have already been displaced because of the destruction of their homes. Many civilians in Gaza have said to us that there are no realistic ways in which they can evacuate to safety in any direction.
“We call upon the State of Israel, with the support of the International Community, to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza so that the thousands of innocent victims may receive medical treatment and basic supplies. Moreover, we call upon all parties to de-escalate this war in order to save innocent lives while still serving the cause of justice.”
They add: “in support of all those who have suffered in this war and of all the families reeling from the violence, we call upon the people of our congregations and all those of goodwill around the world to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Tuesday, October 17th
“There is yet time to stop the hatred”.
In a subsequent statement, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum, said: “once again we find ourselves living through hard times In the Land or the Holy One, where we are surrounded by war, violence, hatred, and destruction. Many in our region now live with great fear and uncertainty.
“Nevertheless, from Jerusalem, the City of the Resurrection, I send you all hope for the assurance of a better life: one with a brighter future, mare blessed circumstances, and freedom from bloodshed, injustice, and death.
“We condemn all acts of violence and kitting, especially of civilians and the innocent. And we advocate for a just and comprehensive peace for all living here. In order to stop the vengeful cycle of violence, we exhort everyone to exercise self-control. Since everyone loses in war, we also call for all parties to pursue peaceful, diplomatic solutions towards a just and lasting agreement for both peoples in a two-state solution. Only in this way can we all enjoy freedom, Justice, and peace.”
Archbishop Hosam, who is also the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and Vice Chair of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, added: “to this end, we pray without ceasing for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war. We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers in our countries and around the world, For we are in dire need or hearts that love, show mercy, and are willing to live in unity with others – hearts that respect human dignity and choose life rather than death.
“We therefore all upon all our congregations, institutions, and parishioner families to join with our sister Churches in the Land of the Holy One In observing this coming Tuesday, October 17th as a day or Fasting and Prayer for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the war. We suggest organising prayer services and / or joining with other congregations in their services so that we can pray together with one heart and spirit.
“We entrust the countries of our Lord’s earthly home into the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, asking him to have mercy on us all and to give us his peace and blessing. Amen.”
- Click to read the full statements by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, and Archbishop Hosam Naoum, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
- Click here for a statment from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo
- Click here for a statement issued by Archbishop Justin Welby
- Find out about our partnership with our sister Diocese of Jerusalem here