Grounded in our vision of peace in the land of Christ’s birth and desirous of working together with those of all faiths who share that vision, we commit ourselves to prayerful and compassionate solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land.
MESG was established by resolution of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania at its Convention on November 13-14, 1992. The wider context was the First Gulf War. In 1991, Bishop Allen Bartlett stated, “We must do all we can to see that the cause of long-term peace and justice in the Middle East, in the name of which this (war) was undertaken, is not lost.”
Mission of M.E.S.G.
It is our mission to create, support and sustain opportunities for the people of the Diocese of Pennsylvania to connect with and better understand the people of Palestine/Israel, especially our Anglican Palestinian brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Jerusalem, by reciprocal hospitality and by participation with them in advocacy for justice for the oppressed and reconciliation among all the peoples of the land.
Since then the Middle East Study Group has met regularly to:
- Discuss current issues relating to Middle East peace. The first intifada was just ending. Israeli Historian Benny Morris called it “not an armed rebellion but a massive, persistent campaign of civil resistance.” Most recently we have discussed the 51 day war against Gaza code-named “Protective Edge” where Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli Defense Forces to “take the gloves off.”
- Plan study series and speakers at St. Asaph’s Church, which have included, among many others, Archbishop Elias Chacour, head of the Melkite Catholic Church in Galilee.
- Provide special mailings to diocesan congregations in support of the annual Good Friday Offering for the work of the Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.
- In 2013, we presented our Passion for Peace Award to Kathy Bergen who worked in Palestine for 31 years, the last 7 in Ramallah at the Friends Center.
- Initiate resolutions to Diocesan Convention in support of Middle East peace efforts, including successful advocacy of the 2012 Palestine Israel Network (PIN) resolution. We have then become the group that General Convention mandated in every diocese to engage actively in the discipline of advocacy, education, and prayer for peace. In 2015 MESG submitted resolution R-9 PURSUING JUSTICE AND PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND LOCALLY
- MESG has sponsored speaker series, screenings of films and documentaries,. In this we have worked with other groups such as Christian Jewish Allies, Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace, Philly BDS, Sabeel, American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Ecumenical Working Group for Middle East Peace, and many others.