A parish link between All Saints Church, Kirby Hill near Boroughbridge and the Orthodox Church of Beit Sahour, Bethlehem has been strengthened with an emotional trip a group have made to Palestine.
But the parishioners from All Saints who visited the occupied West Bank say that have returned shocked by what they saw, particularly the size and oppressive nature of the segregation wall and how it separates Palestinian communities from each other.
Vicar, Revd Alison Askew, says many of the other things the group observed were also upsetting. “We stayed in the town of Beit Sahour visiting Bethlehem and surrounding area, learning at first hand of the difficulties of life under the Israeli occupation.. ..We were shocked by what we learned about land confiscation; the atrocities that occur at checkpoints; children as young as nine being imprisoned; the fact that Palestinians cannot travel freely in their own country; that houses are demolished and the residents have to pay for the demolition; that water is cut off for no reason and with no warning and many other great injustices perpetrated by the Israeli government and military, and of course the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinians are still refugees in their own country, as well as many more abroad.”
The group are pictured (above) with priests and congregation members of the Orthodox Church of The Forefathers, Beit Sahour which members of the All Saints congregation first visited last year. Since then they have shared experiences and ideas about children's work (see picture below) and throughout the year the two churches have exchanged news and prayer requests via email.
There are plans to develop the link still further with more visits planned. “We shared in their Sunday worship and visiting the Sunday school. New friendships were formed and we felt inspired and blessed by the amazing faithfulness and incredible resilience of our Palestinian brothers and sisters. They in turn were encouraged by the fact that we showed them our solidarity, support and the assurance of our prayers, and we were able to make financial contributions to some of the projects we visited.”