Chicago — In a July 18 letter to President Joseph R. Biden, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), expressed gratitude for his July 15 visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem and his announcement of a $100 million multiyear commitment to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN), of which AVH is a member.
“Your heartfelt words concerning the dignity of the Palestinian people and your tangible pledge of support for their continuing health care is a shared affirmation,” Eaton wrote. “We commit our church to supporting this pledge by reinforcing the message to Congress that this humanitarian assistance is vital for Palestinians in need and should not be delayed or impaired by any political considerations.”
AVH is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the ELCA and several other member churches of the LWF. Located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the hospital provides lifesaving health care to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It is the first and only hospital to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories and the only medical facility in the West Bank offering pediatric kidney dialysis.
In her letter, Eaton also commented on correspondence from Bishop Ibrahim Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land conveyed to President Biden during his visit. Eaton stressed Azar’s concerns about incidents against Christians in Palestine and “his call upon you to work with the government of Israel to address the law banning the unification of Palestinian families.”
In closing, Eaton said she agreed with Biden’s remarks during his visit. “Mr. President, as a Christian theologian, I agree with you and others that ‘Hope springs eternal.’ Many of us — regardless of whether we live in the Holy Land, this country or elsewhere — found our hope for peace with justice in the Holy Land bolstered by your visit last week in support of the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network. It confirmed that we must recommit ourselves to recognizing the inherent dignity of each person, as God does, and to standing with and caring for the well-being of one another — as your father said, ‘no matter what their circumstance.'”
The White House has acknowledged receipt and thanked Eaton for her letter.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands.,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
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