Gaza
Twinning Initiative

Following encouragement from Pastor Suella and the approval of the congregation, three FoH members explored developing a relationship with Christians in Gaza through the Mennonite Palestinian Israeli Network program MennoPIN.

The goal of MennoPIN is to “work for peace, justice, and reconciliation in the world”, specifically in the contentious area of Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank. The specific unit of our engagement is called the “Mennonite Twinning with Gaza,”.

As there are few Christians and churches in Gaza, most of us in the Mennonite Church  connect with social service or health facility representatives.

Our Connections

Since October 2020, we have been meeting over Zoom with representatives of the Gaza YMCA, whose leaders are both Christian and Moslem.  There are currently five of us from FoH along with several persons involved with MennoPIN who meet twice a month. Our one-hour conversations include personal sharing about family, sometimes including our children and spouses, virtual tours of YMCA program areas, and the challenges of daily life where travel is greatly restricted and electrical power is regularly unavailable.  We have also been allowed to witness outside events such as an intergenerational tug-of-war and their Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The Gaza Y offers programs familiar to anyone who has been involved at a local Y:  recreation, arts and crafts, youth development and family building activities.

Recent Events

The clashes of June 2021, in which hundreds of Gaza residents and a few Israelis were killed and many buildings destroyed by Israeli bombs following rocket attacks by Hamas, dominated our conversation.  Damage to the YMCA included many windows broken by the bombing concussions and great trauma to children and adults.  We solicited contributions both in and outside our church to help with the repairs. Some of us wrote letters to our congressional representatives and the Department of State calling for influencing Israel to curtail the removal of West Bank families to make room for more settlements of Jewish citizens, a major factor promoting violence.

While we seek to offer what support we can to our friends in Gaza, they in turn have shown their concern for us in the U.S., particularly after the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection.  Compassion was also expressed when the spouse of one of the FoH participants died in early 2022. One of the U.S. participants solicited advice on working with teenagers from the YMCA Program Director when she was taking on a new teaching job.

At the end of each hour, one feels both amazed and encouraged by the resilience of our Gaza friends, and broken-hearted over their suffering.  The virtual space we share during these meetings is indeed Holy ground.

Would you like to have a better understanding of the current events in Gaza? Who are these various warring groups, and what is their history?? Is there any hope for peace in this part of the world?
 The public is invited to a presentation: “Israel and Gaza: History and Context”  by Dr. Michael Spath on Monday November 20 at 2:00 in the Greencroft Community Center Jennings Auditorium. Dr. Spath is the Founder and Executive Director of the Indiana Center For Middle East Peace.  He has led frequent tours of Israel-Palestine that explores the social/political situation in that land.

  Dr. Spath holds a PHD in Historical theology with an emphasis on Islam-Christian relationships.

His academic studies also include Abrahamic Religions, Peace Studies, Religion and Violence.

 

    Michael and his wife Mary are members of Plymouth Congregational Church of Christ in Fort Wayne IN.   He currently serves as temporary Interim Pastor of the Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship in Berne, IN. He comes with a profound theological and political interest in this area of the world.

 

Fellowship of Hope Mennonite Church pledged apartheid free

   Congregations and communities are invited 
by American Friends Service Committee and others to join this pledge 
in solidarity with our neighbors in Palestine and Israel.

The work of listening  the work of telling is ongoing.


Our neighbors close and far may be as close at heart as the stories we share.

We walk in neighborhood gardens
We forget
We remember
We work together