Clergy Retreat in Bethlehem

Sabeel held a spiritual retreat for the clergy of Palestine and Israel in Beit Aram, a guest house in Bethlehem. The retreat was titled
Proclaiming the Gospel in a Wounded World.
“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:33.

Clergy of different denominationswere welcomed by Mrs. Sawsan Bitar, Sabeel’s coordinator of the retreat.She especially greetedthe wives of the clergy who participated in this annualretreat for the first time,as Sabeel usually holds their retreats separately.
The first speaker was Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem, SuheilDawani, whoreflectedon the parable of the sower and linked it to the situation today. This led to an interesting discussion.Then Fr. Hans Putman, who is of Italian origin but speaksfluent Arabic, gave a presentation on “Witnessing Resurrection in a Wounded World.” he spoke about “The Road to Emmaus”..Afterwards,he gave the participants the opportunity for sharing their reflections with one another.
In the following session,Father Hans Putmanof theJesuit Churchconcentrated on “Reviving theWoundedWorld”. He stressed that although Christ was hurt and suffered, he was resurrected. Fr. Hans presented some PowerPointpicturesof a wounded world from different countries (such as war, refugees, poverty, injustices…etc.);after each picture he gave time for the clergy and their wives to say a few prayers.They were all inspired by the Holy Spirit,they all praised Fr. Hans for the depth of his spirituality and for his leadership of the session.
The evening prayers using the Orthodox liturgy were led by ArchimandriteMelatheos Basal
On the second day,morning prayersusing the Greek Catholicliturgy were led byArchimandrite Jack Nobel Abed.
Then Fr.Suheil Khoury, a pastor of the Church in Iqrith- a depopulated village in -theGalilee-, addressed the subject of “Let there be in you the mind and morals of Jesus Christ”.This gave the opportunity for the clergy to share their thoughts.
The Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbahthen talked about “Muslim-Christian relations in the light of the current situation in the Middle-East” and spoke aboutthe fact that different religions and Christian denominationsall worship the same God and also emphasized non-violent resistanceagainst occupation.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Cedar Duaybis, one of the co-founders of Sabeel,spoke about,“The Changing Theological Landscape”, and discussed the Church of Scotland report “The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land.’Sabeel had translated this report into Arabic and included an introduction by Sabeel Director Rev. Naim Ateek.This session led to a lively debate.
The evening prayer was beautifully sung by Father George Bassous from the Syriac Orthodox church in Jerusalem.
On the last day, morning prayers were given by Father Francois Mariafrom the Catholic Church in KufrKanna in the Galilee.
Later in the day everyone left for the Tent of Nations to meet Mr. DaoudNassar and his family who own land that is threatenedto be confiscated by Israel.This Christian family, the Nassars, are determined to stay steadfast on their land and resist confiscation by non-violent means.
All of the clergy and their spouses provided positive feedbackaboutthe retreat and wereeager to meet up again. They suggested that they need more of these spiritual retreats together in order to develop a healthier ecumenical Christian community.