Image published 2000 - 2024 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
Background Information on Palestine and Christianity As of 31 July 2019, 138 of the 193 United Nations member states have recognized Palestine as a state with observer status, allowing them to take part in general debates, and the Palestinian flag now flies outside the United Nations. Fauna Flora and Geography Historic Palestine includes Bethlehem, Nazareth, the River Jordan and Jerusalem. The country is part of a large land mass connecting Asia, Europe and Africa known as the Fertile Crescent giving rise to its unique geography and geology. Palestine is ‘The Land of Milk and Honey’ and agriculture is a highly valued occupation with many Palestinians cultivating their own plots and gardens. Agriculture The olive tree is a symbol of deep roots, longevity, and a sustainable livelihood. For this reason, we used the olive tree as a symbol throughout our worship service. Olives and olive oil have been used throughout the history of our region for medicinal purposes, healthy cooking, and to bless the foreheads of people. Another plant in Palestine is the cactus, which originally came from Latin America, but which has become an inseparable element of Palestine. This cactus, called the “prickly pear” bears delicious fruit.  Gaza Gaza is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Egypt and Israel. Gaza covers 365 sq km with over 2 million inhabitants, nearly half of them children, making Gaza the third most densely populated area in the world. Although there are less than one thousand Christians in Gaza, there is a strong feeling of ecumenical belonging and service to the whole community. The West Bank The West Bank is so named because it is on the west bank of the Jordan River. After the Oslo Accords of 1993-1995 the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C. The Palestinian Authority, formed in 1994, was given partial civil control over Areas A and B. Today the Palestinian Authority is based in Ramallah which is the capital of Palestine. Education School and universities have contributed to the maintenance of Palestinian national life. The majority of private schools are run by a variety of religious organisations and children of all faiths are welcome to attend. Palestinian Art and Culture Palestinian art finds its roots in folk art and traditional Christian and Islamic painting. The vibrant tatreeze style of embroidery is worn by Palestinians worldwide on festive occasions as a means of unifying or literally weaving together all Palestinians. Graffiti artists from various political affiliations and backgrounds document their struggle against the occupation, their main canvas being the West Bank separation wall. The West Bank festival with the farthest global reach is the Palestine International Festival. Held in many towns including Bethlehem, Nazareth and Ramallah during July, it hosts Palestinian culture displays and invites dance and music groups from all over the Mediterranean to take part. People and Population Palestinians are a scattered population with over 12 million living all over the world. Estimates suggest that just over 5 million Palestinians currently reside in Palestine and Israel. There is a small Christian minority in this predominantly Muslim country, making up about 2% of the Palestinian population. The Role of Women The role and structure of family is important, and the extended family is the most common structure in Palestinian society. In direct response to rising rates of early child miscarriages and high levels of reported domestic abuse against younger women, the minimum age for marriage increased to 18 in 2019. The Ministry of women’s Affairs established in 2003 is the main governmental agency responsible for promoting and protecting women’s rights in Palestine. CEDAW Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, calls continue to be made to improve the human rights of women, for them to be further protected and to increase the number of women participating as decision makers. Health In general, hospitals in Palestine are well equipped, however the Palestinian health care system suffers from a lack of financial support, and restrictions on movement make it difficult for Palestinians to access health care easily. Some private hospitals, under church supervision, are open to all Palestinians, regardless of faith tradition, strengthening the relationship between all members of the community. Christianity and Interfaith Issues The Christian Church in Palestine is an active church, rich in history and diverse in traditions, with a unique mission and calling. In the area from which Christianity spread and many denominations arose, Jerusalem alone is home to thirteen historically recognized churches throughout the Holy Land and worldwide. Christian-Jewish interfaith connections are central in the ongoing conversations regarding Israel and Palestine. The World day of Prayer The National Committee in Palestine works in conjunction with a wide variety of organisations that are connected to the Christian Church. Involvement with the movement since the 1950s has enabled Palestinian women to interact with over 100 countries, strengthening the Middle East presence and witness. The invitation to write the service for 2024 was an opportunity to reflect on continuing challenging times, encouraging Palestinian Christian women to keep searching for a deeper understanding among all the people who share the land, trusting for and hoping in the humanity of one another.
World Day of Prayer Website https://www.wwdp.org.uk/2024-theme-and-country-palestine/