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’Keep talking and listening’ says Moderator on Holy Land trip

Thomas Baldwin reports on a visit to the Middle East by the Moderator.


The Moderator the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning on his Holy Land visit.
Photos: The Rev John McMahon

THE Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has emphasised that peace in the Holy Land will only be achieved by all sides talking and listening to each other.

The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning made an official visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan, in January, visiting sacred sites and meeting Church of Scotland colleagues and partners, faith leaders and others.

This included visits to Wi’am, the Palestinian Conl ict Transformation Centre in Bethlehem and the Aida refugee camp, and preaching at St Andrew’s Church in Jerusalem. Dr Browning, along with the Youth Moderator Robin Downie, also visited the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and paid tribute to the memory of Jane Haining, the Scottish missionary who died in Auschwitz.

Dr Browning and his colleagues (including Moderatorial chaplain, the Rev John McMahon and Secretary of the Church’s World Mission Council, the Rev Ian Alexander) met with Rabbi Michael Melchior, President of MOSAICA (The Middle East Religious Peace Initiative) who is also the Chief Rabbi of Norway. The Moderator said: “His vision stems from a biblical belief that everything we do in our lives should come from recognising God’s image and holiness in all and that holiness and peace are the tasks we should pursue in the faithful life.

“No understanding of life and its problems can be found without faith issues being included.”

He also visited the Nasser family at the Tent of Nations, an educational and environmental family farm near Bethlehem, which preaches non-violence, peacebuilding and runs work camps and empowerment programmes.

Dr Browning said: “The farm is located in the middle of a number of Israeli settlements, and is constantly under pressure from the state and military authorities, who dispute their (documented) claim to the land.

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