One of the most encouraging parts of my life here in Israel Palestine is the quarterly handover service for the teams of Ecumenical Accompanyists (EA’s). The Ecumenical Accompanyment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is a programme of the World Council of Churches and every quarter teams of 25 to 30 people between the ages of 20 and 70 come to join one of seven teams monitoring the situation in the West Bank. The programme is supported by Israelis and Palestinians and that is always reflected in the Handover Service held this time at the Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem.
There have now been 68 teams serving for a full three months, and the service sees one group of EA’s handing over to the next group – now team 69. I was an EA five years ago and my team number was 47. It makes me feel old!
At the heart of the service is a ceremony where candles lighted by the old team light candles held by the new as the handover of the work takes place. As they do so these words are spoken, (Team name as appropriate):
”We pass on to you the calling to walk in the light with the people of Yanoun. May you walk with kindness, hope, patience and love so that you are blessed and are a blessing to all.
Incoming Team We accept the challenge to live and witness as EA’s in Yanoun. We thank you for your work, your love and the commitment you have given to the people of Israel – Palestine. Now take the gratitude of the people, the encounters and experiences you had, and the love of God back home with you, and tell your stories boldly!”
Do please pray for the incoming team 69 and the departing EA’s as they readjust to normal life – I know that it is not easy.