The start of the 2020 school year brought many thoughts to mind. I pray for all returning to school amid the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting not only here at home in Canada but also around the world.
We recently received an update on how COVID-19 restrictions are challenging the students in the schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar and other leaders from the ELCJHL shared their concerns for the 2020–21 ELCJHL school year in a video update which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/niTL7XyMI-Y
In the video, our Global Mission partner shares how it is struggling to meet the needs of its 3,000 Christian and Muslim students, pay its 180 teachers and employees, and continue the important programs offered by the school.
I feel so fortunate to have been able to witness first-hand the incredible programs at the ELCJHL schools for students from kindergarten to Grade 12. The ELCJHL is responsible for four schools: Dar al-Kalima Evangelical School in Bethlehem, Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah, and Talitha Kumi Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Jala.
These schools serve all students equally regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or ability to pay school fees. Before COVID, over 75 per cent of the schools’ students required financial assistance to help with the tuition costs.
The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have meant barricade closures and a significant loss of tourism for the region resulting in job loss and substantial reduction in income to households. Now almost all students require some form of financial support.
ELCJHL schools do their best to provide scholarships and subsidies to students who are not able to afford full academic fees but the increased need this year means ELCJHL schools are facing a serious financial crisis.
The ELCIC has a long history of relationship with the ELCJHL.
From 2015 to 2017, through the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, we supported scholarships for schools of the ELCJHL. In fact, by the end of the challenge, we supported over 200 scholarships for students!
It is time for us to help again.
At their fall 2020 meeting, our National Church Council approved a motion to launch an ELCJHL Appeal to provide support for scholarships for students of ELCJHL schools for the 2020–21 school year. A scholarship of $1,600 will help support tuition for one student for the year.
I encourage you to consider how you and your congregation might make a donation towards a scholarship for a student, and to keep the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in your prayers—pray for the congregations and schools of the ELCJHL and pray for peace in the Holy Land.
Jesus, you taught in synagogues and on hillsides. We pray for the students and staff of schools across our land and in schools of the ELCJHL. As we have been richly blessed, let us be a blessing to others. O prince of peace, we pray for peace with justice in the Holy Land. In your holy name we pray. Amen.
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada