FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
25 February 2016 – Thirty Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews met in Larnaca, Cyprus, January 25-28, 2016 for four days of prayer, fellowship and study. They issued a statement affirming their unity as believers in Jesus and calling on their communities to join them in reconciliation initiatives.
The Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine (LIRIP) hosted the conference. Its vision is “to promote reconciliation within the body of Christ and our wider communities in Israel and Palestine by creating a network that encourages, under the auspices of the Lausanne Movement, models of gospel-based, Christ-centered reconciliation that will have prophetic impact in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The Larnaca Statement affirms the unity of Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews as believers in Jesus, calling for mutual commitment to live out that unity in the midst of conflict and division. It recognizes areas of challenge and theological disagreement and identifies where further work needs to be done. It proposes practical actions that express hope for the future, especially amongst the next generation of believers in both communities. It calls for prayer and support from the wider family of believers.
The statement highlights the issues and challenges affecting reconciliation, noting:
“In times of tension and violent conflict, relationships suffer, while suspicion, accusation and mutual rejection thrive. At such times it is even more essential that we who affirm our unity in the Messiah must uphold ethical standards of life that are worthy of our calling, in all our attitudes, words and deeds.”
It recognizes that “we hold very different theological positions regarding the land, and also very different perspectives on the causes of the social, political and economic realities that impact the daily life of all who inhabit the land.”
Nevertheless, it calls for “a generous theological stance, which makes room for and respects the conscientious convictions of others that they sincerely derive from their reading of Scripture” and for “every effort to maintain our fellowship with each other as a witness to the unity of the body of the Messiah and to the boundless love of God for all people.”
Dr. Munther Isaac, Palestinian Christian co-chair of the Initiative, said: “Despite our different convictions on many issues, we are able to affirm together the need for reconciliation, and to seek unity among believers across our divided communities. Our shared faith calls us to listen, respect and even challenge one another in a Christ-like manner. It also compels us to be advocates for reconciliation and just peace.”
Dr. Richard Harvey, Messanic Jewish co-chair, added “It is important that a statement such as this is read and studied by Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians, and all who pray for and work towards peace in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Only by taking seriously the command of Yeshua (Jesus) to love our enemies can we begin to see the transforming power of His message of Good News in our lives and communities.”
The LIRIP Steering Committee, consisting of the two co-chairs and Mrs. Lisa Loden, Botrus Mansour, LLB, Grace Mathews, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Lausanne Movement, the Very Rev. Dr Trevor W. J. Morrow, former Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly of Ireland, Dr. Salim Munayer and Rev. Dr. Christopher Wright, International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership facilitated the conference. A further conference is planned for January 2017.
The LIRIP steering committee recognises the sensitive and challenging nature of the statement, and welcomes discussion, feedback and comment in the spirit of mutual respect and Christian courtesy and charity. The statement expresses the work and the commitments of those present at the conference, and while it does not claim to represent the views of all within the Lausanne movement and beyond, it is offered and commended for study, discussion, prayer and action.
For more information and details of future meetings, contact the Lausanne Movement.