The meeting was held with the theme, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another,” from Romans 14:19.
A primary focus was carrying the messages of the WCC 11th Assembly and exploring how EAPPI resonates with the pilgrimage of justice, reconciliation, and unity to be undertaken together.
WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca recalled the message of the WCC 11th Assembly, “A Call to Act Together,” in which delegates committed themselves to working with all people of good will and invited all to become pilgrims together in order to better address and counter the challenges of our world. “It alerted of catastrophes arising directly from conflicts and wars as well as the irresponsible and broken relationship with creation that has led to ecological injustice and climate crisis,” said Sauca.
Sauca also mentioned the assembly’s Unity Statement. “Seeing the world from the perspective of others, showing compassion for one another, and building trust as a vital part of our ecumenical journey are all signs of Christlike love that move us to walk truthfully and wholeheartedly beside one another,” he said, reflecting on how the Unity Statement helps inspire the strengthening of EAPPI.
In his welcoming remarks, Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, the incoming WCC programme director for Public Witness and Diakonia, said he looks forward to deeper engagement with all those present.
“And as we imagine the future, I also recall the history: the World Council of Churches founded EAPPI in response to a call by church leaders in the Holy Land,” he said. “The WCC, whose member churches represent about 580 million Christians worldwide, answered the call.”
Mtata urged continuing with the tireless work. “We desire to create spaces for continued sharing of ideas so that we are both effective and efficient in our efforts,” he said. “Our smooth cooperation will give hope to the Palestinians and confidence to the Israelis.”
Participants focused on a shared vision and renewed commitment to the programme, which provides a protective international presence for vulnerable Palestinian communities and monitors and reports on incidents of concern.
Those gathered also shared reflections from the pre-COVID-19 period versus the post-COVID-19 period. Financial reports were shared, and participants discussed different ways that resources can be shared across the program.
The safety of Ecumenical Accompaniers has always been a priority. Workshops on colonialism, racism, privilege, and advocacy were offered as well.
A field trip began in Silwan, where national coordinators of the programme saw the developments that have taken place. Then they traveled to one of the new communities with which the programme has established work. The final stop was in Kisan (Bethlehem) where Ecumenical Accompaniers have been working with female leaders.