The Higher Presidential Committee of Churches Affairs in Palestine, represented by its President, Minister Dr. Ramzi Khoury, Director General of the Palestinian National Fund, participated in the celebration of the Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, which was held at the Bethlehem Bible College to celebrate the presidential decree issued by President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the arrangement of the relationship with unrecognized churches.
The ceremony began with an opening prayer by Dr. Bishara Awad, honorary president of the Bible College, followed by Rev. Jack Sara, head of the college, with a welcoming speech, expressing his happiness for the presence of Minister Khoury and the accompanying delegation, and praised the role played by the committee to serve the Palestinian people, and its hard work to stabilize the Christian presence Especially in Jerusalem.
Reverend Dr.Munir Kakish , President of the council of local evangelical churches, welcomed the attendees on behalf of all the members of the council and expressed their gratitude to His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas for signing the decree and thanked Dr.Ramzi Khoury for his great efforts and hard work for helping in removing all obstacles and difficulties that made the recognition a reality.
In his speech, Dr,Kakish emphasized the council’s stand by the Palestinian people and its commitment to the Palestinian cause ,explaining that the council consists of a number of evangelical churches and institutions spread throughout the Palestine. “We reject as national evangelical churches, the Zionist and racist ideology and belief towards our Palestine. The evangelical churches are praying to God Almighty, to protect our Palestinian leadership, supporting and sustaining its peaceful approach to work towards achieving independence and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. We as evangelical churches, call for fairness, justice, and peace for our Palestinian people, and we reject injustice, tyranny, and racism, as we call for peaceful living with the people of the region”.
Furthermore, he affirmed the council’s rejection of the Israeli settlements established on Palestinian lands, saying, “We affirm that the Israeli settlements established on the occupied Palestinian lands represent a violation of international law and an obstacle to the path of peace, rejecting the position of the current US administration, which is now in support of that.”
He asserted the council’s commitment at all levels to cooperate with the Palestinian leadership and all other Christian churches and denominations, and concluded his speech by praying to His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas, and the leaders of the Palestinian people.
Dr. Khoury affirmed the committee’s willingness to adhere to and implement all international covenants signed by the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, which guarantees freedom of worship to all its citizens, on that basis, the committee worked to recognize the council of local Evangelical Churches, to receive its full civil rights and facilitate the ratification of marriage contracts, the right to buy church property and other civil rights. He added that the committee considers the council of evangelical churches as messengers of the state of Palestine to the world, to convey the true picture of the situation in which Christians and Muslims live in Palestine as a result of the Israeli occupation.
Moreover, Dr.Khoury also briefed about the role, projects, activities and contributions of the committee to support and establish the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
At the end of the celebration,Dr. Munir Kakish, presented Dr. Ramzi Khoury with a gift in appreciation for the committee’s efforts to issue this decree.
The decree was issued on 3.11.2019 considering the Council of local Evangelical Churches as a legal body and the only reference for evangelical churches that are not recognized and operating in the state of Palestine, the decree allows the evangelical church to issue certificates for the members of its community in accordance with the laws in force with respect to other religious beliefs, in addition it allows the right to buy and own the compound, and to register real estates under its name that are of the churches and its community’s interest with the approval of the Higher Presidential Committee of Churches Affairs.