Sabeel Ecumenical and Interfaith Outreach and Visit to Druze Community July 2015
On Tuesday July 28 a group of 20 clergy, 13 with their wives, from Syrian Orthodox, Syrian
Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan, Baptist, Anglican and Greek Catholic, and from Palestine
and Israel met together for a Sabeel experience of incarnational, contextual theology. They each came from their own Christian and liturgical traditions, but on this day they walked together, talked together and reached out as Jesus often did to others.
In this case the ‘other’ was the Druze community in northern Israel village of Hurfeish.
The Druze form a religious minority in Israel of more than 100,000, mostly residing in the north of the country. In 2010, the population of Israeli Druze citizens grew to over 125,000. At the end of 2014 there were 140,000. As well as their distinctive theology and faith throughout the Levant, they have centuries of experience of preserving their identity while living with others.
As the Rev’d Suheil Bathish, Chaplain of the Nazareth Hospital EMMS reported;”
Our visit to the Druze khalwa was the first time that as a Christian I have visited their prayer sanctuary where we were given a talk about their faith and beliefs by their Sheikh (though we did not see any sign of their Holy Book).
The Druze Sheiks themselves were thrilled with the intentional visit of the Christian clergy and
practised their ministry of ‘hospitality’. They asked to involve them more in our interfaith programs. Thus relationship and reaching out in seeking to understand as Jesus did, the Holy Spirit was at work in all.
Some other force was at work on the bus drive back south when it broke down for over an hour.
But even then, according to Father Bathish:
‘This provided us with the opportunity to enjoy another hour of fellowship as representatives from various church traditions on the side of the road which helped to strengthen our relationships across denominational divides. God indeed has ways and means of building unity at this challenging time for Palestinian Christians’.