We’re Home!

The UPSem travel seminar to the Middle East has returned home safely, with many stories to share of our whirlwind visit to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel-Palestine!  Our final days in Jerusalem were filled with visits to amazing ancient, and living, sites (e.g., the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, Yad Vashem, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem) as well as inspiring conversations with folk engaged on the ground in extraordinary ministries (e.g., The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel [EAPPI] of the WWC, which supports Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and advocacy efforts for a just peace to the Holy Land and provides a protective international presence in the occupied Palestinian territories; the Diyar Consortium in Bethlehem, a church-based, ecumenically-oriented organization that offers an array of educational, development, and capacity-building opportunities to the entire Palestinian community in Bethlehem and beyond; and ROOTS, a unique network of local Palestinians and Israelis who have come to see each other as partners, based on a mutual recognition of each People’s connection to the Land, and whose work is aimed at building a grassroots model for co-existence through non-violent means that can affect larger change in the conflict).  We return exhausted and exhilarated by all we have seen and heard, and deeply grateful for our collective learning experience!

Dome of the Rock-group pic
The whole group in front of the Dome of the Rock.

Frances Taylor Gench is Herbert Worth and Annie H. Jackson Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Presbyterian Seminary.