Over the eighteen months that I have served here, of the church leaders in Jerusalem I have best got to know Bishop Munib Younan, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. During the last week he has stood down and his successor consecrated. Bishop Younan has been a strong and faithful supporter of EAPPI and it was in that connection that I first came across him at one of the handover services. Since working here I have had quite a lot to do with the Lutheran Church, and he has always greeted be as a colleague – inviting me to join in events that as a Methodist I had not been invited to. There is a sense in which he has seen some role as the Church leader with closest links to ourselves, and encouraged the fellowship.
On Wednesday there was a very grand farewell event for Bishop Younan in Bethlehem where there were very warm and extensive tributes. Clearly one of the highlights for his ministry had been the service of reconciliation that he co presided over with Pope Francis on the five hundredth aniversary of the Reformation. However there were many other accounts of the part he had played and of his willingness to speak out on subjects dear to his heart – none more so than the situation facing Palestinian Christians.
I think it fair to say that it was a warm occasion for a much loved person.
The ordination of the new Bishop took place at the Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was certainly a grand occasion with Lutheran Bishops from all over the world in attendence, and some of the Jerusalem Church leaders. There was also a congregation that filled the Church and spilled out into the street outside. It was a long service – starting at ten and not finishing until almost one o’clock. The new Bishop has been the minister in pastoral charge of the Redeemer Church for the last thirty years usually known as Pastor Barhum. He has a reputation as a good and faithful pastor. I don’t know him very well – I have spoken to him a few times but on the whole our paths haven’t crossed. I hope to get to know him more in this his new role.
Photos do perhaps tell the story of the service better than words. It was a happy and confident occasions – my prayers are with the new Bishop.