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Pastoral Letter
April 2002

4 April 2002

To All Pastors and Congregations of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

To be read or reported at worship Sunday, 7 April 2002

Dear Friends in Christ,

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and grants us peace.

Our sisters and brothers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan are under intense stress and live in conditions of extreme danger these days.

Army tanks have entered the Old City of Bethlehem. They have damaged the home of the Lutheran Pastor so that he and his family are confined to the second level, where they cringe at the thunder of the cannons and live in fear. The windows of the Christmas Church have been blown out. One quarter of the membership lives in the Old City where they pass each day in terror.

The army has attempted to enter Augusta Victoria Hospital and is demanding a list of patients and staff. This hospital is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation and is not a haven for terrorists.

The Geneva Convention requiring health care and religious institutions to be immune from attack is being contravened on a daily basis.

Please pray for the innocent people on both sides of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Pray that the plea of Dr. Ishmael Noko may be heard as he calls upon both parties to work toward a ceasefire and commit to a process for lasting peace. We need to pray that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat can bring themselves to take the steps that will lower the temperature of the hostilities.

This is also a time for you, the members of this church, to live lives that are dedicated to peace and reconciliation. I ask you, in your relationships with family, friends and neighbours, to desist from discrimination and to be the agents by which people are brought into peaceful relationship with each other and through whom the peace of Christ is expressed.

I draw your attention to hymn #739, stanza 2, in With One Voice:

Help us to put aside the angry word,
The clenching fist, the wish and will to hurt.
Teach us the way in which love best is served.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, grant us peace.

We are an Easter people. We hold to the promise that present hardships and threats to life cannot prevail over the new creation that God has brought about in raising Jesus from the dead. I pray that this faith will be strengthened in all of you throughout these Fifty Days.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Raymond L. Schultz, National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Phone: 204.984.9157

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In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
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