It began with a telephone call from Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut to JPB Executive Director Nicholas Porter. Six months later, they were finally standing within the gates of Jerusalem. The two-week journey around Israel and Palestine soon involved praying in Jerusalem, meeting renowned Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, swimming in the Sea of Galilee and exploring Gaza.
From September 15 - 26, Bishop Ian, Anne Lynn of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ) and Nicholas traveled as pilgrims with three specific goals: 1) to encounter God deeply in the Holy Land; 2) to become better informed about the current situation in Israel and Palestine; and 3) to learn from courageous Israeli and Palestinian peace-builders.
It was Bishop Ian's first pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and what they experienced was transformational. Among the highlights were: the silence of the Judean Desert, the ingenuity of the Episcopal Technological and Vocational Training Center in Ramallah, the commitment of peace-builders from Ben Gurion University, and the compassion and leadership of the tiny Christian community in Gaza.
The pilgrimage also provided an opportunity to gather the JPB family, and participants of the recent Service-Learning Program in New Haven for an evening together with Fr. Nicholas and Anne Lynn. At this gathering, promising Armenian artist and JPB alumna, Shoghig Shahanian, offered two watercolors as gifts for the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Meeting with local peace-builders throughout the pilgrimage opened exciting new opportunities for JPB in central Israel, Gaza and the Galilee. (More on these breakthroughs in the months ahead)