Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Solidarity Sunday set for July 21

Multi-themed resources available for congregations to support peace in Gaza and Middle East

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

LOUISVILLE — The Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is one of 35 member denominations, is providing resources to help shape Sunday prayers, worship, and liturgy to mark a day of prayerful solidarity and calls for justice in Gaza and the broader Middle East on July 21. Communities and congregations have four separate themes to choose from that best fits their needs or interests:

  • Standing with Christians in the Holy Land
  • Praying for Peace in Gaza and the Middle East
  • Calling for a comprehensive ceasefire
  • Working together to prevent additional killing

One must register for access to the resources here. They are provided free of charge with an option to offer a donation to CMEP.

The Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of CMEP, noted that the organization wanted to give U.S. churches a way to raise awareness about Palestinian Christians, to stand in solidarity with them and highlight their suffering as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the affected territories.

“Christians are under threat of disappearing in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories. We wanted to provide opportunities for churches at all stages of engagement to have the opportunity to be able to do something — if nothing else, pray for peace! If you are an activist community, engage with activism like our program’s ‘Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage’ at and work to support a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,” said Cannon.

According to Cannon the resources, which are ecumenically and politically diverse, include videos of Christian leaders from the Holy Land including Father Immanuel, an Orthodox Priest from Aboud, Palestine; Bishop Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Land; the Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac; and an Armenian activist who is one of the leaders protesting the confiscation of land in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The resources include prayers and other downloadable components for worship.

“The lectionary reading for many churches on July 21st is the feeding of the 5,000, a story (found here and here) where Jesus had compassion and healed people who were sick. This is the profound message of the church — to respond to the needs of people who are suffering,” said Cannon. “July 21st is the weekend of St. Elias’ feast day, a Saint from Egypt who went to Jerusalem and cared for the needs of people who suffered from poverty and oppression. He fed people who were starving, just like those who are suffering from so much hunger and thirst in Gaza. This is a powerful image in this moment where the humanitarian needs in Gaza are so severe.”

The July 21 date is significant for another reason. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to a joint session of Congress just three days later, on July 24.

“We feel it is important for churches and Christians across the United States to call on our U.S. president and elected officials and Israeli and Palestinian leaders to say peace is the only way forward,” said Cannon.

Catherine Gordon

The PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness issued an action alert for Solidarity Sunday earlier this week. Catherine Gordon, OPW’s representative for International Issues, noted that the PC(USA) was a founding member of CMEP. She said OPW works closely with CEMP on advocacy initiatives.

“We hope Presbyterians will use these resources and join our ecumenical partners in this day of solidarity,” said Gordon. “It’s a day for bringing together the ecumenical community in a visible way for Christian unity and peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.  When we face the utter horror of the number of civilians killed and that over 20,000 Palestinian children in Gaza are estimated to be lost, disappeared, detained, buried under the rubble or in mass graves, Christians cannot be silent. It is important for people of faith to learn about the ways the U.S. is complicit in the conflict and be advocates for peace.”

Cannon also offered guidance for churches with Jewish and Muslim neighbors, emphasizing that standing is solidarity for peace is the main goal of Solidarity Sunday.

“For churches with close relationships with your Jewish neighbors, pray alongside them and support them in their suffering and calling for hostages to be returned home. Enter into dialogue with them to understand their engagement with the current situation — Jewish communities will have diverse perspectives about what is happening in Israel and Gaza. For churches with Muslim neighbors, invite them into conversation and seek to understand their perspectives about that situation.”

The resources are currently available on CMEP’s registration page, but Cannon notes that additional prayers and stories will be added until Sunday, July 21.

Consider joining the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s Mosaic of Peace Conference in Israel and Palestine, scheduled for March 24-April 4, 2025.  Applications are being accepted through November 8, 2024.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.