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Minute for Mission: The Pal Craftaid Story


May 11, 2019

Carol Hylkema specially ordered this vest to wear at sales back in 2007. She has worn it for every sale since then — at least 100. “I’ve loved this vest and have been honored to wear it all these years,” she said. “I’ve never worn it for anything other than the sales.” Photos credit: Carol Hylkema

Pal Craftaid, a ministry of compassion and justice to and with Palestinians, was founded in 1993 as the result of a Presbyterian Peacemaking Program trip to Israel/Palestine by the Rev. Elizabeth (Liz) Knott shortly after her retirement as executive of the Synod of Alaska Northwest. At that time, it appeared that a solution to the issues of Israel/Palestine were close and that she would import Palestinian olive wood sculptures and needlework from artisans on the ground and sell them at churches until peace happened. For the first 15 years, Liz and her close friend Connie schlepped boxes and suitcases everywhere, selling and interpreting the issues in the region. All profits from the sales were returned to partner organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

A board was formed in 2007 with Liz and Connie stepping aside into retirement. At that time, Pal Craftaid became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and joined the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). We were happy to have the backing of the FTF and to be an organization that modeled “ministry” to and with partners with Fair Trade principles.

Pal Craftaid was a happy recipient of a grant from the Presbyterian Hunger Program to assist in upgrading our online and social media presence some years ago. In turn, Pal Craftaid assisted the Aid to the Aged (ATTA) program of the Arab Orthodox Society to write a Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering grant to help with programming for the aged across the Occupied Territories and we were very happy when ATTA received a grant for $15,000.

Pal Craftaid was primarily an all-volunteer organization except for a distribution coordinator who handled the inventory going out to churches and fairs for sales around the country. If you have attended the General Assembly or Presbyterian Women’s Churchwide Gathering during the past 20 years, you have seen our booth in the exhibit hall or in the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Global Marketplace. These were great opportunities to not only share our inventory but to do interpretation of the reality our Palestinian partners faced.

Photo credit: Carol Hylkema

This month brings the closing of our business and an end to the 25-plus years of ministry of Pal Craftaid. During those years, Pal Craftaid was very proud to have contributed more than $2.5 million into the Palestinian economy through the purchases of fairly paid inventory and the return of sales proceeds and fundraising to long-term partners on the ground such as the YWCA of Palestine, the Rawdat El-Zuhur School in East Jerusalem, the Atfaluna Society for the Deaf in Gaza and the Arab Orthodox Society.

A small Pal Craftaid delegation traveled to Palestine this month for a time of closure and solidarity with partners and artisan vendors and to complete the distribution of our final assets.

Pal Craftaid has been blessed to be part of the work of fair trade and the dignity that it offers to men and women around the world as they work to earn a livelihood.

Carol Hylkema, President of the Pal Craftaid Board, Member of Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn, Michigan

Today’s Focus:   The Pal Craftaid Story

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Rheannon Sicely, BOP
T. Clark Simmons, BOP

Let us pray:

(Adapted from 2012 Fair Trade Federation Worship Resource)
Dear God, we see in numerous ways the vision of those affected by unjust trade systems; their earnest pleas for help. The echoes of suffering and need clearly resound. How will we respond? Will we … recognize God’s call and change direction? Let us journey together toward social justice; fair trade for all; a better world. Step by step, gathering others along the way. … May we remember that in partnership with God, we can make a difference.

Daily Readings

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