Jeremiah 1:18 – And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land.


              Tuesday was busy from the get go, beginning with a 6:30am wake up call for a contemporary Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem.  The stations trace through Old Town where many believe Jesus walked with his heavy wooden cross. The final stations culminate at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where it is believed Jesus was raised on the cross and laid in the tomb. At each station we read a reflection on current oppression coupled with a prayer for hope and peace.


The rest of Tuesday was spent touring Jerusalem through the lens of an everyday Palestinian living under occupation.  Our tour guide took us to Israeli settlements and poor Palestinian neighborhoods in the valleys of Jerusalem. While on the Road to Jericho (an ancient trading road form Jerusalem to Jericho), we paused to see where the wall that surrounds Jerusalem has cut off many Palestinian lives from the outside world. Twenty feet of concrete with a thin top layer of barbed wire, the wall intimidates and fortifies arbitrary city borders. It could not, however, drown out a Muslim call to prayer at midday, as megaphones amplified an Imam from a nearby mosque for all to hear.

I will never be able to truly understand the complex and troubling relationship between Israel and Palestine. Jerusalem is now a walled-off city, fortified not by iron or bronze but concrete and barbed wire.  The whole land – neighborhoods, schools, hospitals – walled off from neither kings or princes, but families and neighbors.   The prophet Jeremiah understands what it means be an exile, a refugee.  Jeremiah, taken from his residence outside of Jerusalem to far-away Babylon, lost his home and wellbeing. Jerusalem was pillaged and destroyed, and its people scattered and forced to live in hostile lands. This exile and oppression exists now, just as in Jeremiah’s time. Destruction and degradation abound; we, like Jeremiah, turn to lament:

“How long will the land mourn,
and the grass of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who live in it
the animals and the birds are swept away,
and because people said, “He is blind to our ways.” Jeremiah 12:4 (NRSV)


Editor’s Note: This is the second reflection from seminarian Michael Kurth, EPF Young Adult Network Convener, while on a ten day pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March 2017. Michael is a Postulant in the Diocese of New York and currently attends Berkeley Divinity School at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Editor’s Note: This is the first reflection from seminarian Michael Kurth, EPF Young Adult Network Convener, while on a ten day pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March 2017. Michael is a Postulant in the Diocese of New York and currently attends Berkeley Divinity School at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.


Though treading with tired eyes from long international flights, we arrived Sunday morning in Tel Aviv with enthusiasm, ready for our adventure to begin.  The weather – intermittent showers and patches of sun – has been hovering around a chilly 50 degrees fahrenheit.  And yet, a chill has not frosted over our pilgrimage group, as we have spent our first two days engaged with each other and the journey upon us.  Our group is comprised of six pilgrims and two experienced tour guides.  We are seminarians, faculty members, a culinary trained chef, and retirees (priest, pediatrician, and CIA agent. Seriously.).  Over ten days (March 12-21), we will explore Jerusalem and other areas of the West Bank (Ramallah and Bethlehem in particular) to gain understanding of the lived situation between Israelis and Palestinians, and the small but important role the Episcopal Church plays in finding peace and justice. Along the way, we will visit many Holy Sites (mostly in Jerusalem, but also in Bethlehem, Nablus, and hopefully the Sea of Galilee).

Our first days in Jerusalem provided moments of both incredible spiritual joy tinged with sadness at the current state of the city.  On Monday, we visited the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, where a UN staffer discussed in great detail the complex and troubling current living situations in Gaza and the West Bank. Afterwards, we met with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and Archbishop Suheil Dawani, hearing about the many hospitals, schools, and jobs training the Diocese offers throughout its VERY large territory (Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon).  Monday afternoon we had free, so I headed to the Western Wall (a fragment of the outer wall of the Second Temple, the holiest place for all Jews), the Mount of Olives (a site where Jesus taught) and Garden of Gethsemane (where Jesus prayed with his disciples before being betrayed). While at the Garden, I found myself moved in prayer to the point of quiet weeping. “Not my will, but your will be done .” (Lk 22:42)


Deo Gratias — Thanks be to God,

Michael Kurth


For Immediate Release – Claysburg Pennsylvania



The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) endorses the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s condemnation of President Donald Trump’s recent “Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” that forbids foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Here is the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s statement –

“The United Sates was created and sustained by immigrants who came to our country from throughout the world. Now is the time for the United States to embody our historic principles of hospitality and religious freedom,” said the Rev. Allison Liles, executive director of Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

Liles continued to say — “Our Episcopal Book of Common Prayer’s Prayer for the Human Family asks that God look with compassion on the whole human family, taking away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts, breaking down the walls that separate us and instead unite us in bonds of love.

EPF staunchly opposes President Trump’s discriminatory executive decision, which turns our country’s back on refugees at a time when they are most in need of safety.

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship has championed peace, nonviolence and social justice issues since its founding on Armistice Day in 1939.

Read more about EPF –

News Release

Episcopal Peace Fellowship – December 12, 2016

Episcopal Peace Fellowship urges Life without Parole – not the Death Penalty – for Dylann Roof who killed 9 African-Americans and injured 1 in a Charleston church in South Carolina

Claysburg, Pennsylvania – This week Dylann Roof’s first death penalty trial begins in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof is accused of entering the Bible study class at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston on June 17, 2015 – observing the lesson with parishioners – then opening fire on those present while shouting racial slurs and insults.

Roof faces 33 charges, including hate crimes, murder, attempted murder and obstruction of religion, and could face the death penalty because of “the nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement in May 2016. The 22-year-old has also been charged in a state murder case, which also carries the death penalty and is scheduled following this trial.

The Rev. Allison Liles, EPF Executive Director, said “We stand with the Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother, two cousins and a family friend were gunned down.”

Essence quotes Risher in an interview in its November issue – “I’m still on that journey of forgiveness. What Dylann Roof did has put a hole in my soul and the soul of America. I don’t personally believe in the death penalty. Even though he did this to my family, I still wouldn’t want him put to death. ”

The Rev. Liles added – “Over a half-century ago, the Episcopal Church declared its position regarding capital punishment, which was reaffirmed at the 2015 General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church opposes capital punishment on a theological basis that the life of an individual is of infinite worth in the sight of Almighty God, and the taking of such a human life falls within the providence of Almighty God and not within the right of Man.” [Emphasis Added]”

             “Jesus calls us to a life of love, mercy and redemption,” she said.  As his followers we must reject state sanctioned retribution and collective vengeance as reasons for taking human life. Scripture repeatedly calls us to overcome evil with good and to transform hatred with love. And the death penalty undermines the fundamental respect for human life by sanctioning the deliberate act of killing a human being.”

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship therefore urges the court to pursue life in prison sentences rather than capital punishment for the crimes committed by Dylann Roof.

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship has championed peace, nonviolence and social justice issues since its founding on Armistice Day in 1939.

Read more about EPF –

Contact – EPF publicist Bob Kinney – 512.419.1738 –bob.





EPF Press Release – A How to Guide

  • I have an idea for an EPF press release!
  • Determine who is the sponsor of the press release (EPF, EPF PIN, EPF Action Group…)
  • Contact the appropriate EPF Action Group, if there is one
  • Draft press release
  • Executive Director & NEC Chair approve language, specifically quotes attributed to them
  • Release is circulated to the sponsor (EPF, PIN, Action Group) for final review
  • Release is sent to Executive Director and NEC Chair for final approval
  • Bob Kinney circulates press release, in consultation with the sponsor,  to appropriate contacts

chris sabasNEC member Chris Sabas, who served with Christian Peacemaker Teams from 2011 – 2016,

working with and on behalf of Indigenous People’s Solidarity in Canada, shares her response to unfolding events in Standing Rock:

Watching the events unfold in Standing Rock this week, with the violence used against nonviolent demonstrators, was quite difficult for me…. no doubt for you too.  I was transported back to the Elsipogtog campaign, where I and so many others experienced varying degrees of brutality because of the RCMP raid of that barricade/encampment. Here’s a 2 minute video I filmed that day (FYI ‘R” rated with some of the language):

In any event, I wanted to pass along some book suggestions that perhaps you and folks in your parish(es) may find useful, as people digest not only the raid, but perhaps why the Episcopal church is taking a public stance in support of the protectors:

For a general sense of appreciation, I highly recommend Neither Wolf Nor Dog- On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder

Focusing more on the Sioux, I suggest people turn to The Heart of Everything that Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud An American Legend

Finally, selfishly, I recommend Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry.  The author is CPT Reservist Steve Heinrichs of the Mennonite Church of Canada, a friend of mine.  I also personally know several of the contributors and depending on the edition, you’ll see my name on the back cover as I was honored to write a review:



t-d-rowShow your solidarity with EPF of Pensacola. They will be wearing these T-shirts at Friday’s vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty. Available from EPF for $15 – to order call 312-922-8628 or email

The National Executive Council of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship joined by the fellowship’s Palestine/Israel Network, is proud to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Movement in unequivocal support of its ”Vision for Black Lives” issued on August 1.

“The policy demands listed in the platform cover a wide variety of intersecting issues, all of which are also important to the mission of Episcopal Peace Fellowship and our mission to oppose war and violence in all its forms,” said EPF Executive Director the Rev. Allison Liles. The platform accurately describes the connections between colonialism at home and abroad and courageously advocates for the rights of all God’s people.

In pledging our support and solidarity, we do so motivated by our Baptismal vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” And we do so from our own long history of acting with others to give voice to those denied dignity and justice and subjected to oppression and dehumanizing conditions by the powers-that- be, be they in Ferguson, Baltimore, Haiti, Honduras, or Palestine.

In this regard, the EPF National Executive Council and Palestine/Israel Network applauds the platform’s recognition of the commonality of the civil rights struggle of American blacks and black and brown people everywhere, most notably Palestinians, who, for too long, have labored, without adequate voice in this country, against the daily indignities of an oppressive Israeli occupation. In reiterating the need for Black/Palestinian solidarity and courageously endorsing boycott, divestment, and sanctions as a legitimate non-violent economic tool aimed at bringing about an end to occupation, the Black Lives Matter Movement has joined a growing coalition of organizations giving voice to those everywhere who seek liberation and self-fulfillment. The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to be part of that coalition.

“As the platform so eloquently articulates, we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people – collective liberation will be a product of all of our work,” Liles said. As part of that larger coalition of Christians, Jews, and those of other faith and none, we firmly reiterate our profound love and concern for all the people of the Holy Land, both Israelis and Palestinians, and reject attempts by opponents of the Movement’s Platform to equate honest and legitimate criticism of unwise policies of the Government of Israel with anti-Semitism.

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship has championed peace, nonviolence and social justice issues since its founding on Armistice Day in 1939.

Read more about EPF here.