Thanks to EPF PIN member Harry Gunkel for this update.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN) recently gathered in retreat to chart its course for the remainder of the 2018-2021 triennium. For three days, approximately 30 PIN members worked together to determine organization goals and how best to operate to achieve them, while remaining responsive to events on the ground in Palestine and Israel and honoring members’ own obligations to their baptismal covenants.
The PIN retreat was the organization’s first gathering since the Episcopal General Convention in July 2018. The General Convention was a momentous one for PIN, as the Church’s House of Bishops and House of Deputies concurred on six resolutions to address the ongoing tragic violence and injustices taking place in Palestine and Israel. The six resolutions, which built on actions by previous Conventions, addressed Episcopal Church policy regarding aid to Palestinian refugees, safeguarding the rights of Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the right of both Palestinians and Israelis to self-determination and sovereignty, violence and abuse of human rights in Gaza, and developing an investment screen for Palestine/Israel based on human rights.
Monitoring the progress of implementing these resolutions, as well as educating members of the Church about the resolutions and more broadly about the situation in Palestine and Israel will form the major part of PIN’s work during the current triennium. Efforts will be made to establish dialogue with deputies, bishops, and church leaders, as well as to build grass roots presence in parishes and dioceses for education and advocacy around these topics. Simultaneously, PIN will seek new relationships and strengthen existing ones with organizations of allied interests both within and outside the Church.
PIN’s work during this triennium carries a sense of new urgency, as the situation on the ground in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza deteriorates rapidly, while national leadership in the US disregards Palestinian interests in favor of Israel. Both federal and state legislatures are moving to criminalize forms of opposition to Israel’s long-running military occupation and mischaracterize its criticism as antisemitism.
PIN has reorganized in order to be more responsive and effective in this work. At the core of PIN’s structure is a Steering Committee who will determine the organization’s goals and objectives and have ultimate decision-making authority. They will be guided by an Advisory Council, a diverse ecumenical group whose members have experience in Episcopal Church governance and policy, as well as extensive knowledge and experience in Palestine and Israel. PIN’s day to day operation will be centered in Working Groups, focusing on Communications, Local Organizing, Education, and Budget and Membership.
PIN will be led by Convener, Dr. Linda Gaither. Linda is a retired Religion Studies professor living near Ithaca in the Episcopal Diocese of Central NY. She served for 10 years on the National Executive Council of EPF, acting as Chair (2009 – 2013). She served with PIN Core Leadership in the previous triennium. Serving with her in leadership is Dr. Harry Gunkel, PIN’s Coordinator of Communications. Harry was the PIN convener during the 2015 – 18 triennium.