In 2002, the World Council of Churches developed the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel to create an international presence in the face of Israeli occupation. Since then the United Church has sent over 25 Ecumenical Accompaniers who have been posted in many regions of Palestine and Israel.
From February through April 2017, a United Church of Canada Ecumenical Accompanier was posted in north Israel. There they primarily monitored agricultural gates—counting the number of Palestinian farmers granted access to their land and noting whether the gates were open during their allotted times. During a visit, the Ecumenical Accompanier took United Church staff to a Palestinian park, where Palestinian families enjoy picnics and fresh air. The simple act of picnicking there is a protest against the occupation, and claims land that is (for now) Palestinian. Two Israeli settlements sit atop the valley ridge overlooking the park. The once-flowing river is diminished to a stream, as pipes route water over two kilometres to the Israeli settlement.
Ecumenical Accompaniers take a risk participating in the program. They also face a context very different than life in Canada. Many return to Canada informed and ready to advocate for a just peace and an end to the occupation. Mission & Service allows United Church Ecumenical Accompaniers to accompany the mission and ministry of the World Council of Churches in occupied Palestine. They share first-hand experience to inform their local community of faith, civil society, and government of the realities of occupation.
If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.