The Diocese of Jerusalem walks the Way of the Cross, as it supports the vulnerable and points to Easter hope beyond the suffering

28 March 2024

The Diocese' St Luke's Hospital in Nablus. Photo by permission of the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem

This Holy Week, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem continues to walk the Way of the Cross, as it perseveres with resilience and compassion to meet the needs of the most vulnerable across the Holy Land, including Gaza, through its health and education institutions. We join the Church in prayer for peace, justice and safety for all the peoples of the Holy Land. The Church shines light in these dark times, bringing relief and hope to families impacted by the war. It represents the love of Jesus within this devastating time and points to Easter hope beyond the suffering.

And the suffering in this war is immense: in the Gaza Strip, where the impact of the conflict has caused vast displacement, death, injuries and hunger; in the West Bank, where people’s livelihoods have disappeared due to the impact of the conflict; for people living in trauma through fear, oppression and bereavement; for families awaiting the return of loved ones taken as hostages or detained. The only solution to this disaster is an immediate ceasefire, as called for in the UN Security Council Resolution this week, which also demanded urgent humanitarian access and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

On 21 March, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement on the famine risk in Gaza: “If nothing changes in the war in Gaza then famine is imminent… For some it’s already too late – children are beginning to die of starvation and dehydration. These deaths, and the famine-like conditions in Gaza, are not the result of some unexpected natural disaster; they are human-made.

“Israel’s prosecution of this war has destroyed large parts of the Gaza Strip – decimating infrastructure essential to human survival. The scarcity of humanitarian access to and within the Strip continues to prevent aid workers from distributing life-saving supplies. We should not become numb to this injustice. It can never be normal for parents to use animal fodder or grass to feed their children.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury concluded his statement: “As I have said before, and I repeat again now: the only effective solution to this catastrophic situation is an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and sustained humanitarian access for the provision of essential supplies and services to those in need. Another way must be found. I continue to pray for the Palestinian Christian community in Gaza and the West Bank, for the people of Palestine and Israel, and for justice, peace and security for all the peoples of the Holy Land.” [See here for the full statement on 21 March 2024.]

It was into this context that the Anglican Alliance Executive Director, Canon Rachel Carnegie, visited the Diocese of Jerusalem last week. It was a journey of solidarity and pilgrimage, to listen to the experiences of the Church and people, to pray together, and to visit some of the Diocesan health and education institutions, learning how they are sustaining care for the most vulnerable in these desperate times.

Rachel was able to visit some diocesan health institutions and hear about others in order to understand their ongoing work through their committed staff teams. For example, the Princess Basma Centre in Jerusalem offers comprehensive rehabilitation and counselling services for children with disabilities and their families. When the war began, they were on the verge of opening an outreach programme in partnership with the Church’s Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. The vision remains for the future, and even now some of the initial staff trained in Gaza are starting to assess and support children with disabilities, including injuries and amputations due to the war. In every context, the dedicated and courageous staff were committed to sustaining services for the sick and vulnerable and to building hope.

Meanwhile, Al Alhi Hospital in Gaza City continues remarkably to offer services to the sick and injured, currently with 150 inpatients, managing 22 surgical operations and 250-300 outpatient consultations each day. The library and chapel have also been converted to accommodate patients. Likewise in the West Bank, St Luke’s Hospital in Nablus and the Penman Clinic in Zababdeh are sustaining health services, using the funds from the Anglican Alliance joint appeal to provide free access to treatment for those without resources.

Sawsan Aranki Batato, Programs Development Officer at the Diocese of Jerusalem, described how the fund is being used to provide healthcare for hundreds of those in need. She gave an example of a woman who was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and  received timely treatment. The loss of family income since the war meant that without this support, she would not have been able to access this care. Sawsan said:

“This project saved her life, by enabling early detection and timely intervention. The funds are helping us to save the lives of so many. We are reaching the needy in marginalized areas.” She added: “It is one of the most cost-effective interventions as, on the one hand, it enables around 3,000 families who lost their income due to the war to secure urgently needed health care and education, and on the other hand, it is helping five of the diocesan health and educational institutions, whose income was affected by the war, to sustain the services they provide, particularly in these difficult times, where the number of people who seek free of charge services is dramatically increasing.”

During her trip, Rachel also visited St George’s School in East Jerusalem, one of the institutions supported by the joint Anglican Alliance appeal. Many families of the 800 students have lost their incomes since the start of the war, as they were dependent on tourism in Jerusalem.

Richard Zananiri, the school Headmaster, described the situation: “It affects us a lot. We were still recovering from Covid. But we always provide our children with hope. We are believers.”

Richard described how the school had needed to subsidize tuition fees during the Covid pandemic. “The policy of the school is from the Archbishop,” he said. “St George’s never dismisses any student for financial issues. On the contrary, we protect poor people – we try to find different ways to cover the costs. We have a bridge of trust between the school and parents.”

Last year, as families recovered from the pandemic, 95% of the student costs were paid. But, now again, with incomes massively impacted by the war, families are in financial crisis.

Through the Anglican Alliance joint appeal, the Diocese of Jerusalem has provided St George’s school with a fund to provide 100 bursaries for families in financial need. Richard described one father of four children coming to him. The man is a coach driver, whose income stopped with the absence of tourists: “This family was planning to leave the school,” Richard explained. “The father said to me, ‘We cannot go on’. When he heard about the bursary I saw a smile on his face. We have selected 100 families to support in this way. Please give our best appreciation to all who supported this appeal.”

Reflecting on her time in the Holy Land, Rachel Carnegie, Anglican Alliance Executive Director, said: “The experience was both heart-wrenching in seeing and hearing about the suffering, but also profoundly inspirational in witnessing the Church’s commitment to serving the most vulnerable, in sustaining lives and hope, and in speaking for peace, justice and reconciliation.

“One encounter has remained seared on my heart,” Rachel said. “It is a young mother from Gaza. I met her on the national Mothers’ Day, visiting her in hospital where she was caring for her seriously sick young son. They had come to Jerusalem for his treatment just before the war began. Her husband and three younger children remain in Gaza, distributed amongst the wider family in the hope some may survive. Tragically, she told us how her father and two of her brothers were killed during the war. The mother told us how each time she phones her young children in Gaza they have lost even more weight. She fears for them, yet also fears being deported back to Gaza with her frail older son. In the midst of this distress, the young mother remarkably remains resilient. And her medical team and social worker were clearly providing vital support and encouragement – light in the darkest of times.”

In his Palm Sunday Sermon, Archbishop Hosam Naoum of the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem said: “The mind of Christ teaches us not only patience and perseverance, resilience and endurance.  In the face of pain and suffering, Jesus was ready to walk the walk… Even though he was going through death and defeat, he knew that the Empty Tomb and Life will have the final word… We too today, as we enact Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, carrying our branches, carrying our sorrows and our frustrations …. We are also triumphant, even though we are going through suffering, we are experiencing, ourselves in Palestine, occupation and oppression on many levels, but today we live between two Resurrections: the Resurrection of Jesus and also the final Resurrection at the Day of our Lord at the end of time.”

Concluding his Palm Sunday sermon, Archbishop Hosam said: “So today let us enter Holy Week, not with a spirit of defeat or sorrow, but with a spirit of the Resurrection and Easter and the Empty Tomb.”

Archbishop Hosam recorded a video on Palm Sunday to express appreciation for all those who have supported this Diocese of Jerusalem appeal.


The Anglican Alliance has convened a consortium of international partners around the Anglican Communion to respond to a specific humanitarian appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem. This joint appeal is raising funds to help vulnerable people access quality health and education services through the diocesan institutions, including funds for the following:

  • Costs of medical services for vulnerable outpatients at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, as well as Saint Luke’s Hospital in Nablus and Penman Clinic in Jenin on the West Bank.
  • Costs of medical services for vulnerable inpatients at the hospitals.
  • Assistance to those displaced or economically impacted by conflict in the West Bank, especially to ensure children continue to receive quality education, with psychosocial support.
  • Further needs to be identified as the situation evolves.

Please continue to hold the Diocese of Jerusalem and the peoples of the Holy Land in your prayers and support this appeal if you are able. Members of the Anglican Alliance consortium receiving funds for this Diocese of Jerusalem appeal include:

Aotearoa/New Zealand/PolynesiaAnglican Missions and Tearfund NZ

AustraliaAnglican Board of Mission Anglicans in Development and Anglican Overseas Aid

CanadaPrimate’s World Relief and Development Fund

UKTearfund and USPG

USAEpiscopal Relief & Development

Contact email for the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem:


Please join us in continuing to pray without ceasing for the Holy Land:

O God of all justice and peace,

we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma

of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land.

Be with those who need you in these days of suffering;

we pray for people of all faiths –

Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land.

While we pray to you, O Lord,

for an end to violence and the establishment of peace,

we also call to you to bring justice and equity to the peoples.

Guide us into your kingdom where all people

are treated with dignity and honour as your children –

for to all of us you are our Heavenly Father.

In Jesus’ name we pray.


Prayer by Archbishop Hosam Naoum of Jerusalem