Methodists have a new
Holy Land office
New office will provide increased opportunities for Methodists to visit “Living Stones.”
By Melissa Hinnen
April 20, 2012--The Methodist Church is increasing its ministry in the world with a new office in the Holy Land.
Serving the global Methodist family, the office will expand current work and will in part be a base for educating Holy Land pilgrims about a range of Middle Eastern and Israeli/Palestinian issues.
The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church is developing the Methodist liaison office in partnership with the British Methodist Church and the World Methodist Council.Thomas Kemper, who leads Global Ministries, outlined the plans to directors at the semi-annual meeting last month.
According to Kemper the office will “embody our commitments to peace and justice and underscore our concern for the future of the declining Palestinian Christian community.”Photo: Children in Nablus in front of a house demolished by the Israeli military. Photo Credit: Paul Jeffrey/ Action by Churches Together
The United Methodist Church has four missionaries and a mission intern in the region. Janet Lahr Lewis is the United Methodist Liaison in Palestine and Israel. She reports that officially expanding the liaison office will help accommodate the increasing response of the global Methodist church to the call for justice and peace from indigenous churches. (Full article here)
...According to Kemper, Global Ministries is also in conversation with the World Council of Churches about how the new office might relate to its Jerusalem Inter-church Center.
While there are no plans to open a United Methodist mission church in the region, he said, “No truly global Christian agency serving a global church can sidestep the issues that arise today in that land of holy history and human contention.”
Other resources you may find helpful:
HOLY LAND TASK FORCE
The United Methodists of the Holy Land Task Force envision the day when Palestine and Israel will become: a land that reflects the highest ideals of the three Abrahamic faiths, a place where Muslims, Jews, and Christians achieve reconciliation and live side by side in security and freedom, an example for the world of peaceful coexistence grounded in justice and compassion.
The United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force seeks to promote peace, justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land through prayer, study, giving, engagement, and advocacy.
UMC MISSIONARY IN PALESTINE
Development Liaison Officer at Bethlehem Bible College
Brenda Kay Waddell Awad is a United Methodist missionary serving in Palestine with her husband, Rev. Alex Awad. They are involved with a small international church in East Jerusalem and in supporting the ministry of Bethlehem Bible College (BBC).
Brenda has performed various functions in her role as the pastor’s wife, which involve Sunday School programming, women’s meetings and event planning. At the Bible College she serves as the development liaison officer, developing proposals for the College’s worldwide support base. She fills in as an English teacher when there is a need. In addition, she works with other UM mission personnel in the region to facilitate UM group visits.
The East Jerusalem church fellowship they serve shares a special bond with Israeli believers in Christ, through a sister relationship with a Messianic Jewish congregation in Rehovot. The two congregations celebrate Passover and Easter together and join together whenever possible to promote their oneness in Christ.
A native of Fleming-Neon, KY, Brenda says, “My parents taught me and my ten older siblings the value of hard work, honesty, and faith in God. My parents’ influence, plus interaction with school missionary programs and church groups led me to accept Christ and the basic tenets of Christian faith at an early age. I committed my life to God to serve wherever the Holy Spirit would lead.”
Acting on this rich Christian heritage and desiring to prepare for Christian service, Brenda attended Lee University in Cleveland, TN, where she received a B.S. degree in elementary education. While at Lee University, she was active in missions and felt the call to serve as a missionary, not knowing where God would lead. One scripture verse that seemed to follow her was Acts 1:8, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Upon completion of College, Brenda taught 1st grade in Calhoun, GA. She then married Alex, a native of Jerusalem, whom she met in her last year of College. They both taught in the public school system in North Georgia for several years. While teaching in Georgia, Brenda received a Masters’ degree in education from North Georgia College in Dahlonega.
In 1979, the Awads responded to the call to go to Bethlehem and assist with the newly formed Bethlehem Bible College where they spent the next six years as independent missionaries. From 1985-87 they served at Hope Secondary School, a charitable boarding school for young people from ages 12-18 in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem). Most of the students were victims of previous wars and occupations in their land. During the course of this ministry the Awad family was forced to leave Israel because they were refused renewal of their tourists’ visas.
In 1989 the Awads were commissioned as GBGM missionaries, but spent the next five years struggling to obtain visas to re-enter the country. During that time they served as mission interpreters in various locations on behalf of the GBGM: as Mission Interpreters In Residence (MIIRs) in Ohio from 1989-90; peace and justice educators in upstate New York from 1990-91; and MIIRs in the South Central Jurisdiction from 1991-94. In 1994 they returned to Jerusalem where they continue to serve the body of Christ.
Brenda and her husband, Alex, now live in the Jerusalem area. They have three children. Their son, Basem (30) is currently teaching English at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Their daughter, Christy (33), husband, David, and grandson Skylor, now live in Weatherford, TX. Randy (25)lives in Pai, Thailand.
Missionary code: United Methodist Advance-010826-4
Missionary Stories from the Holy Land
From the Awads
UMC Middle East
Janet Lahr Lewis
Janet Lahr Lewis is a missionary with the Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving in the Middle East as liason between ecumenical groups, Israel and Palestine.
Focusing on advocacy and activism, Janet's responsibilities are numerous. She is the main contact for VIM teams and United Methodist visitors who wish to follow the recommendation of the General Conference to spend a significant amount of time in the area with local Christians, acting to make those connections with UMC partner organizations and Advance Projects.
Janet circulates updates about developments in the ongoing crisis and suggests courses of action people can take to address it. She educates visitors about the realities of the situation, organizes conferences, develops media campaigns, offers worship opportunities, hosts delegations to the area and oversees other special events.
“After taking a typical Holy Land tour and seeing the devastating consequences of the ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, I experienced not only a ‘call’, but rather an undeniable ‘push’ to go back to that not-so-holy land and do whatever I could to help bring about ‘freedom for the oppressed,’” Janet shares about her call to mission.
She sold her house in the U.S. and volunteered for several years, first in the Galilee, then Bethlehem where she “lived with my neighbors under the heavy hand of injustice and military occupation.”
“Christ calls us all to be ministers of justice,” she explains. “Through my work with the Palestinian Christian community, I will be able to answer this call by working for a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis, so that reconciliation and healing can occur.”
A native of Cleveland, OH, Janet earned an associate degree in civil engineering and architectural design from Lakeland College in Mentor, OH. She studied theater arts at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.
Prior to this assignment, Janet worked for ten years with Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem and for two years as executive director of Friends of Sabeel–North America. She served from 1994-1997 as Personal Assistant to Archbishop Elias Chacour, president of Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the Galilee.
Prior to moving to Israel-Palestine, Janet worked as project coordinator and trouble-shooter managing civil engineering and project design at Olds Cast Stone Products in Thompson, OH.
Janet has three adult children, Adam Scott Lahr Lewis, Evan Phillip Lewis, and Tegan Wynn Lewis.
A member of Chardon United Methodist Church in Chardon, OH, Janet has held numerous church offices, including council on ministries chair, youth leader, choir member, mission committee chair, and administrative board member.
EMAIL ADDRESSES: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Janet Lahr Lewis is available for Covenant Relationship support in Central Texas Annual Conference , East Ohio Annual Conference , Northern Illinois Annual Conference , West Ohio Annual Conference .
Make an online donation to: Janet Lahr Lewis #14183Z.