The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation*
News Release

For Immediate Release        Contact: Robert Younes, MD
May 8, 2003                            (301) 951-9400, younes@hcef.org

HCEF Concluded an Educational Symposium for 55 Christian Clergy   on the Plight of the Palestinian Christians.

The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation sponsored a symposium on the Christians of the Holy Land for clergy of all Christian denominations on May 8, 2003, at the Metropolitan Memorial  United Methodist Church,  Washington, DC 20016.

The symposuim speakers informed 55 Christian clergy about the plight of Holy Land Christians and the serious threat to the existence of Christianity in the Holy Land as the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza continues its brutal suppression of Palestinians.  George Ghattas, HCEF Palestine Country Representative/ Director of the Program Development Department and Fr. Majdi al-Siryani Legal Advisor, both of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, described the horrible living conditions for Palestinian Christians of curfew, siege, checkpoints and unemployment imposed by Israeli military occupation in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.  A panel of three American Christian witnesses, Fr. Alex Kratz, Gerry Bird and Robert Younes, M.D. spoke about their observations in Palestine as pilgrims to the Holy Land.  Sir Duane Burchick, HCEF Chairman of the Child Sponsorship Program reviewed the various humanitarian assistance programs that Pastors could introduce to their congregations. Father Drew Christiansen (Counselor for International Affairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), Father George Rados (Pastor, Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church) and Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu Akel (Moderator, Presbyterian Church, USA) discussed their denominations role in supporting the Christians living in the Holy Land.

HCEF encouraged clergy and their congregations to join the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation to support Holy Land Christians and the Mother Church of Jerusalem as they struggle to survive in the land of its birth.  The clergy and their congregations were encouraged to support ongoing projects by recruiting volunteers for the Out Reach Program, Speakers Bureau, Child Sponsorship Program, Holy Land Gifts Program, Pilgrimage Program, and Emergency Relief Program.

Rev. Frank Trotter, Senior Minister of the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church was Chairperson for the conference.  HCEF president Rateb Rabie, KHS noted, “We are reaching out to the Christian Clergy because we found that many clergy are not aware of the risk that Christianity might be extinguished in the land of its birth.”
 
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Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization 501 (c) 3, committed to improving the lives of Christians in the Holy Land through building bonds of solidarity with between Christians in the United States and Christians in the Holy Land. We have two goals: inform Americans about the Christians in the Holy Land and provide humanitarian assistance for the needy in the land where Jesus Christ was born, preached, died and rose again.  HCEF, 6935 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 214, Bethesda, MD 20815 (301) 951-9400, Toll Free (866) 871-4233 (HCEF), www.hcef.org Email: news@hcef.org