calendar October 10, 2023 in Bishop, Bishop messages

Pastoral Message: War in Israel and Palestine

Dear Beloved,

Grace, peace, power, and love in the name of the One who can do all things but fail, Jesus Christ!

The eruption of war in Israel and the Gaza Strip opened a heart breaking and a terrifying time for Palestinians, Jews, Christians, and all people around the world.  We join people of all faiths in prayers for peace and justice in the region. We are especially grieved by the killing, wounding and capturing of innocent civilians on in Israel and Gaza.

There are unfortunately many reasons why hostilities boiled over now. We know that what we are experiencing in part because of years of abuse, including mortal killing perpetrated by the Israeli governmental forces upon the Palestinians. Our church has long and supportive relationships with Lutherans and Christians in the Holy Lands. We continue to stand firm with our Palestinian sisters and brothers.

We also know that the slaughter and capture of civilians in their homes, shelters, and at a youth music festival are inexcusable acts of terrorism. We grieve with the Jewish community in our region and across the world. We have deep and heartfelt ties through the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia, on which I serve with Rabbi David Strauss, which has fostered productive interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

So we are offering up prayers for the entire region, especially families in Gaza and our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America partners in ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). We ask all to lift Bishop Ibrahim Azar, the pastors, and people of the ELCJHL, as well as our ELCA missionaries Revs. Meghan and Gabi Aelabouni.

Also, in the meantime, we are asking for all to please pray for peace.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

      “May they prosper who love you.
      Peace be within your walls
                              and security within your towers.”
      For the sake of my relatives and friends
                              I will say, “Peace be within you.”
      For the sake of the house of the Lord
                              our God, I will seek your good.  – Psalm 122:6b-9

May God grant a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

In Christ,

+ Bishop Patricia A. Davenport



  • For “The Fruit of Justice Will Be Peace,” message from Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Palestinian theologian, click here.
  • For the ELCA Social Statement on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict, click here.
  • For Prayers Around the Cross for Peace in the Middle East, consider this resource.
  • For a helpful article explaining why this attack happened now, click here.

Please note below the ongoing work of the National Council of Churches:

Inter-Religious Dialogues 

The ELCA participates in the National Council of Churches’ national inter-religious dialogues with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs.

In April, the Jewish-Christian dialogue met in New York City to explore themes of reparations, remembrance, and healing. To contextualize this work, the dialogue met at multiple sites: the Jewish Theological Seminary, the National September 11th Memorial, St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center, and Trinity Wall Street. Presentations on Germany’s post-war reparations to the Jews and on the iconography at the National Shrine depicting both the remembrance of 9/11, and the church’s healing presence amid and after 9/11, led to generative dialogue.

Shoulder to Shoulder

In April 2023, the annual John Paul II lecture hosted by the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at The Jewish Theological Seminary held a webinar titled Confronting Anti-Religious Bigotry. The conversation, which centered around the growing swell of anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian bigotry, was moderated by Rabbi Burt Visotzky (director of the Milstein Center) and featured the cofounder of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, and the campaign’s co-chairs, Rabbi Esther Lederman and Kathryn Lohre, ELCA Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.

The ELCA endorses this program: