Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Jerusalem Inter-Church Center

In my last post I introduced the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme (EAPPI) that operates from the offices of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center (JIC). The JIC is a recent initiative of the Jerusalem Churches in association with the Middle East Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. It is directed by Mr Yusef Daher, supported by the Rev Kjell Jonasson. Yusef is a Jordanian Palestinian and former Executive Director of the Arab Hotel Association. Kjell has worked in Palestine for the past 25 years; he is seconded from the Church of Sweden to work as Associate Executive Secretary of the JIC. The JIC arranged and is coordinating our Australian delegation's visit to Palestinian Christians.

The JIC is a coordination point for ecumenical action in and for Jerusalem and its churches. JIC provides an ecumenical forum to enhance deliberation and action by churches addressing the many and often critical needs in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories, with coverage of Israel as appropriate. JIC also provides an essential element in the global ecumenical mobilization for conflict resolution by articulating the local voice to regional and global actors.

JIC is based on contact, information sharing and deliberation among Churches in Jerusalem, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), the World Council of Churches (WCC) secretariat and certain member churches and specialized ministries with long involvement there. A much more important role is implementing long-standing plans of the international community for a peaceful and equitable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as expressed through the United Nations. Under this mandate the Center:

1. Provides timely and regular information, analysis and reports to the ecumenical community;

2. Liaises with the local Churches and with MECC and WCC;

3. Facilitates intensive exposure tours and seminars for international, high-level government, church and media visitors assuring hosting and contact with the local churches and communities;

4. Strengthens local church capacity for diaconal work in association with the WCC Middle East desk and MECC;

5. Strengthens local ecumenical and interfaith relations;

6. Hosts EAPPI as a much-needed local-global accompaniment program.

Our delegation has received exemplary service from Yusef Daher and the JIC, and we have nothing but the highest praise for its efficiency, breadth of local knowledge, and ability to facilitate high-level religious and political contacts. The Jerusalem Churches are to be commended for sponsoring this ecumenical initiative, and thus allowing greater international understanding of the issues facing the local Churches and the dilemmas of the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To contact JIC:

Street address: St Peter Street, Jaffa Gate, Old City, Jerusalem.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 741, Jerusalem 91000

Telephone: (+972-2) 627 4534 or 628 9858

Fax: (+972-2) 627 4499

Email: yusef66jrs at the domain or jc-e at the domain

Picture (L-R): Rev Kjell Jonasson and Mr Yusef Daher at the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center.