Building peace through ministry with children and youth
Contributed by Andrea Mann
Director of Global Relations for the Anglican Church of Canada
As part of the World Week of Peace in Palestine and Israel, people of faith all over the world are encouraged to demonstrate the power of prayer for peace in Palestine and Israel. This year’s theme, “Creative Solidarity in Common Fragility,” was chosen during an era of extreme fragility and lifts up creative solidarity as a sign of hope. Through prayer and common action, people across the world can make the restoration of peace and justice in the Holy Land both possible and a lived reality for all people of the region.
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem spans five countries (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria) and commits to creative solidarity for peace and justice through four ministry priorities: education, health care, hospitality and reconciliation. Their Kids4Peace program covers aspects from each of these priorities to work towards future peace and reconciliation.
In response to rising tensions between in Israel and Palestine, and concerns about the future of the children in these communities, the diocese’s Kids4Peace program was established more than a decade ago. Kids4Peace brings together children from Jewish, Christian and Muslim families, so they can meet, have fun together and take part in artistic activities. The program is non-denominational, non-political and non-partisan in bringing Israeli and Palestinian families together from different sides of the cultural and political divide.
All participants—staff, families and children—share a commitment to peace, and a belief that an educational experience of tolerance and respect for cultural and religious diversity should begin with children and youth.
Along with Kids4Peace, parishes in the diocese have established youth groups to explore a sense of identity in the context of a shrinking Christian community in the Holy Land, and to encourage a sense of connection with other youth groups—both in the diocese and in the Anglican Communion worldwide—seeking healing, reconciliation, peace and justice.
In all of the diocese’s 17 educational institutions, students are members of diverse and inclusive classroom communities. Diocesan schools serve the learning needs and interests of those whose families cannot afford school fees as well as those with a range of learning abilities. This early childhood experience, continuing into post secondary vocational education, is deeply influential in generations of young adults who share friendship, trust and respect with one another across personal, cultural, social, and political differences.
Let us pray for all children and youth of the Middle East, that they be delivered from the powers of evil that generate prejudice, hatred, racism, social disorder, violence and a life less abundant for all. Let us pray for their freedom from remand centres and prisons where they are incarcerated. Let us pray for our neighbours in Israel and Palestine, and for the Diocese of Jerusalem, who work unceasingly for justice and peace through education and bringing children and families together. Grant them the fortitude not only to endure but persist in creatively seeking those things that make for a just peace.
If you wish to learn more about Kids4Peace or the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Peace and Reconciliation ministries, please contact email@example.com.
To learn more about relationships between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, please visit the Canadian Companions of Jerusalem website and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.