Israel/Palestine Mission Task Force
What is the Israel/Palestine Mission Task Force?
The Israel/Palestine Mission Task Force is a part of the Mission Committee of First Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is dedicated to supporting organizations and individuals committed to achieving peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities in Israel/Palestine. The main, but not exclusive, focus is support of the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the village of Ibillin, in the Galilee region of northern Israel. There are 14 chapters of the Pilgrims of Ibillin nationwide. Our chapter was formed in 2002. Information about the Pilgrims of Ibillin can be found at the web site http://www.pilgrimsofibillin.org/
Who is Father Elias Chacour?
Father Chacour, a Melkite Catholic Priest, was born to a Palestinian Christian family in the village of Biram in Upper Galilee in 1939. He became an Israeli citizen when the state was created in 1948. In 1965, Father Chacour was appointed priest of the village church in Ibillin, a small Arab village in the hills of northwest Galilee where Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for many generations. In February 2006, Father Chacour was consecrated as the Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church of Haifa, Akko, Nazareth, and the Galilee. His vision was, and is, that through education children, youth, and young adults of several faith traditions will learn to live and work together in peace. This vision is a reality in the Mar Elias Educational Institutions.
What are the Mar Elias Educational Institutions?
From its inception, the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (MEEI) welcome all religions and all ethnic groups to participate as students, teachers, and staff in an environment where all are equal under God, all have equal respect and opportunity and live in peace. The schools function under these principles as concrete examples of successful peace making in the Middle East.
Father Chacour founded a kindergarten in 1970, an elementary school was established in 1997, and a high school was established in 1982. There are now over 3,500 students attending kindergarten through twelfth grade, drawn from approximately a 25 mile radius of Ibillin. A major portion of the funds generated by the Mission Task Force is devoted to enlarging the facilities, increasing supplies, such as books and computers, and providing scholarships to assist students from poor families who would otherwise not be able to attend the schools.
What are some of the activities of the Israel/Palestine Mission Task Force?
Our main activities consist of raising funds to support the Mar Elias Educational Institutions and sponsoring educational programs that to support peacemaking efforts in Israel/Palestine. Our most important annual fund raising activity is a cinnamon roll bake sale, usually held in November. We support various educational programs, including adult education programs on Sunday mornings, special lectures, and we have sponsored two trips to Israel/Palestine for congregational members in recent years.
How can I support this work?
Please join us at one of our regular meetings of the Pilgrims of Ibillin: our meetings are normally held on the second Monday of each month at the First Presbyterian Church. You can also contact one of our officers (indicated below) or any member for additional information. We are happy to discuss opportunities for you to support the Mar Elias Educational Institutions and to become involved with our social and educational programs.
Margaret McClamroch, co-chair, Pilgrims of Ibillin ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Silvia Pedraza, co-chair, Pilgrims of Ibillin ( email@example.com )