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12 Faces of Hope on display in Wales

12 Faces of Hope on display in Wales

Rev. Branwen Rees and Wales Synod moderator, Rev. Simon Walkling find the exhibition "12 Faces of Hope" useful. Photo: URC

12 December 2019

People in Wales are experiencing firsthand stories of hope, justice and peace reflecting on 50 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

The 12 Faces of Hope exhibition, launched by the World Council of Churches in 2017 to mark 50 years since the six-day war when Israel occupied Palestinian Territories, continues to draw attention. Since 30 November it is part of “Believe in Bethlehem,” an exhibition at St David’s United Church in Pontypridd, Wales, alongside a display of nativity sets with reflections. To launch the exhibition, Rev. Branwen Rees, East Wales regional minister, gave a talk about her experience in Palestine and Israel, which she visited earlier this autumn with a group of people from across the United Reformed Church in Great Britain.

“To me, the ten days we travelled around Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories was life-changing. But at the same time once I was home, ‘normal’ life began to intrude. However, my normal life was nothing compared to the life of the people we met and talked to and ate with. For them, going to their place of worship, which might be less than 50 meters away, meant passing through a checkpoint and showing identification. Assuming of course that the checkpoint was open. We also visited a Bedouin village, which had built its own school with limited materials. Things like that put life into perspective,” Rees explained.

Rev. Branwen Rees and Rev. Phil Wall, minister of St David’s United Church, with posters on display. Photo: URC

Prior to the current display in Pontypridd, the United Reformed Church National Synod of Wales hosted the 12 Faces of Hope display at its synod in October, where Rees also shared her impressions.

“We must continue to raise awareness about the conditions people live under in the Occupied Territories. Christians, Jews and Muslims we met during the trip all said the same thing: “tell our story when you come home,” Rees continues.

The 12 Faces of Hope material, with its compelling testimonies, provides a good framing to do so, she believes.

Wales synod moderator, Rev. Simon Walkling agrees and hopes that more churches across Wales will take advantage of the offer to borrow the material and arrange spiritual conversations around it.
“It is a perfect example of an ecumenical initiative which by small means enables us to engage local congregations in an important peace- and human rights- issue”, he concludes.

City United Reformed Church in Cardiff will be hosting the 12 Faces of Hope from 31 January to 8 March 2020 and the posters will continue to be available on loan from the synod for all churches.

Learn more about "12 Faces of Hope"