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United Methodist Resolution on Holy Land Tours

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6031. HOLY LAND TOURS

United Methodist Book of Resolutions 2016


For many years, some Palestinian Christians have expressed deep dismay that too many
United Methodists and other Christian groups traveling to Israel/Palestine, also called the Holy
Land, have missed an extraordinary opportunity for ecumenical fellowship and sharing with
other followers of the Prince of Peace. Our Christian sisters and brothers indigenous to the
area continue to wonder why they are so often ignored by Christian pilgrims to the region.
Why, they ask, do travelers tend to honor the inanimate stones that testify to Jesus’ life and
ministry while ignoring the “living stones,” the indigenous Christians who represent an
unbroken line of discipleship to Jesus in the land that he called home?


In December 2009, Palestinian Christian leaders from all the church families present in the
Holy Land, launched a Kairos Palestine document: “A moment of truth: a word of faith, hope
and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” (See
kairospalestine.ps)


In Kairos Palestine, which the 2012 General Conference commended as a study resource,
Palestinian Christians have issued an invitation to all sisters and brothers: “In order to
understand our reality, we say to the Churches: Come and See. We will fulfill our role to make
known to you the truth of our reality, receiving you as pilgrims coming to us to pray, carrying a
message of peace, love and reconciliation.” See
http://www.kairospalestine.ps/content/comeand-
see-call-palestinian-christians-journey-peace-justice-guidelines-christians
.

Travelers to this land have the opportunity to be ambassadors of unity and concern to the
rapidly dwindling churches and Christians in a troubled land. They also have an opportunity to
share in the vocation of peacemaking and to learn from the spiritual traditions of the churches
indigenous to the Middle East. Further, they have a special opportunity to discover firsthand
the realities of a region of deep meaning and vital importance to Christians, as well as to Jews
and Muslims.

We recognize the tragic history that Christians share with Jews, and the complex relationships
between particular nations and the state of Israel. We encourage dialogue between Christians,
Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders.

Therefore, The United Methodist Church:
1. strongly affirms the resolution of the 1984 General Conference, offering “encouragement
of all leaders of and participants in ‘Holy Land tours’ to contact indigenous Christian
leaders in the Middle East, and to hear the concerns of both the Israelis and Palestinians
who live there, as well as visit the biblical and historical sites” (“The Arab-Israeli Conflict,”
The Book of Resolutions, 1984; page 280);

2. asks the bishops, clergy, members, agencies, and congregations of The United
Methodist Church, as they plan visits to the Holy Land, to devote significant program
time to contact with indigenous Christian leaders and to hearing the concerns of
Palestinians and Israelis on the current crisis of Palestinian self-determination;

3. urges all United Methodists planning, organizing, and/or participating in a trip to the Holy
Land to apply to their Holy Land trip planning the guidelines outlined in the General
Conference resolution 6030, “Responsible Travel” [see 2012 Book of Resolutions];

4. recommends that United Methodists planning individual or group tours to Israel/Palestine
consult with the United Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem to seek opportunities to
worship with indigenous Christian congregations, to include overnight stays in
Bethlehem, and to visit United Methodist-supported mission sites;

5. supports the purchase of local Palestinian-made fair trade products and crafts in keeping
with the guidelines in the General Conference resolution on “Responsible Travel” [see
2012 Book of Resolutions];

6. asks the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and
Society to prepare specific recommendations regarding preparation, participation in, and
follow-up education and advocacy actions for United Methodists traveling in the Middle
East and other sensitive regions of the world;

7. recommends that United Methodist-sponsored tours use the denomination’s seminar
program in predeparture seminars for the travelers;

8. urges that travelers use, as advance study materials, positions adopted by General
Conference and by general church agencies relating to the Middle East, as well as
resources such as “Working for a Just and Lasting Peace in Israel and Palestine” (an
advocacy packet prepared by the boards of Church and Society and Global Ministries,
http://umcbcs.org/content/general/Advocacy Packet_Fall_2013.pdf); the Kairos
Palestine document,
http://www.kairospalestine.ps/content/kairos-document; and other
peacemaking resources;

9. urges seminaries and United Methodist-related colleges to apply the guidelines in this
resolution to any school-sponsored trips, internships, and/or semesters of study in
Palestine/Israel;


10. extends sincere appreciation to those United Methodists who have facilitated the
implementation of the above recommendations in tours they have sponsored or
participated in since the adoption of this resolution;


11. expresses deep concern that many tours sponsored or arranged by United Methodist
bishops, pastors, and laity do not schedule program time for participants to enter into
relationship with the indigenous Christians so that they may “Walk With the Living
Stones” in their strides toward Palestinian self-determination, their rich spiritual heritage,
and their faithful contemporary witness;


12. expresses deep concern that Christian presence in the land of Jesus continues to
decline in numbers through economic, social, and political pressures, which have greatly
diminished the numbers and percentage of Christians in the Holy Land. United Methodist
bishops and other organizers of Holy Land tours have a special responsibility to
strengthen the witness of the remaining Palestinian disciples of the living Lord;


13. affirms the presence of The United Methodist Church, the Methodist Church of Britain,
and the World Methodist Council in Jerusalem through our Methodist Liaison Office and
through our ongoing partnership with Palestinian and Israeli organization working for
reconciliation and to establish equal rights for all under international law;


14. encourages tour leaders to consult with the General Board of Global Ministries and the
Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem in order to facilitate adherence to these
recommendations;


15. instructs annual conferences and general agencies to monitor and report to the General
Conference regarding the implementation of this resolution;


16. urges close cooperation with the Jerusalem Interchurch Center and other indigenous
Christian groups to facilitate informed, alternative travel opportunities to the region; and


17. commends all who initiate visits to the Bible lands that explore issues of justice and
peace among all participants in the region, with special emphasis upon the concerns of
our Palestinian Christian colleagues.

ADOPTED 1992
AMENDED AND READOPTED 1996, 2000, 2008, 2016
RESOLUTION #6031, 2008, 2012 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #292, 2004 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #271, 2000 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
See Social Principles, ¶ 165A, B, D.