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Middle East Monday will set the tone for Week of Action

‘Middle East Peace … Our Peace’ will include storytelling, discussions, and worship

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Saint George Maronite Cathedral and Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque sit side by side in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. (File photo)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The second annual Presbyterian Week of Action will begin Monday, Aug. 23, with a deep dive into the Middle East and the United States’ role in its recent history and future in a day titled “Middle East Peace … Our Peace.”

“The theme for the Week of Action is Shades of Oppression, Resistance, and Liberation,” said Christina Cosby, Mission Specialist for the Middle East and Europe, and Ellen Sherby, Coordinator for Equipping for Mission Involvement. “The Middle East teaches us how a community can move from oppression through resistance to liberation. We will hear from sisters, brothers and siblings in Palestine, Iraq, Syria and the U.S. and learn not only about the difficult issues in the region but about the resilience of the people. We will learn how we in the United States can join in the story.”

The Second Annual Presbyterian Week of Action, Aug. 23-29, is designed to bring attention and action to people and communities living under different forms of oppression, a response to the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 invitation and Hands & Feet initiative. It is seven days with online events each day designed to illuminate the issues the focus group for the day face.

Visit the Week of Action website for information on all days and an overview of the week.

This is the schedule for Monday (all times Eastern):

11 a.m. Webinar: From Shades of Oppression Towards Ways of Resistance

1 p.m. Stories of Resilience, Peacebuilding and Resistance. Panel discussion

5 p.m. Stories of Resilience and Healing, intergenerational event geared towards children Prerecorded with live host

7 p.m. Vespers Service pre-recorded premier

Young Syrian refugees, some of whom were attending school for the first time, were getting a chance to learn to read and write in Arabic and English. The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) Education Center for Syrian refugees is in Kab Elias, a town in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon. (File photo by Phillip Woods)

All events will stream on the Week of Action webpage. Middle East facts will also be shared throughout the day on the PC(USA) social media pages including FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The “Shades of Oppression Towards Ways of Resistance” webinar will look at discriminatory policies in Israel from the nation’s establishment in 1948 to the present, human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories and the role Christian Zionism has played in those abuses. The “Stories of Resilience, Peacebuilding, and Resistance” panel will include Rifat Kassis, a Palestinian advocate for more than 30 years and widely published author; Vian Ahmed Sadiq, an Iraqi-Kurdish activist, humanitarian leader, and women-empowerment advocate; Mathilde Michael Sabbagh, a preacher serving as pastor of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Al-Hasakeh-Syria; and Yasmina Haddad, granddaughter of a Palestinian refugee and the daughter of Lebanese (and Colombian) immigrants who is a long-time member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The Vespers service to end the day will be primarily led by church leaders from Lebanon.

“Our hope is that people will learn that the issues and contexts of the Middle East are directly connected to the United States and its foreign policies,” Cosby and Sherby say of the day’s offerings. “The peace and wellbeing of the Middle East are bound up with the peace and wellbeing of the United States and of other countries around the world.”

This is the fourth of seven stories detailing each day of the Week of Action.

Other Week of Action previews

Aug. 25: Week of Action LGBTQIA+ day includes homage to Mister Rogers

Aug. 26: Responding to a crisis in Indigenous communities is the focus of Week of Action Thursday

Aug. 28: ‘The struggle does not define us’

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