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New Coadjutor Bishop of Jerusalem Elected

Posted on: August 4, 2005 8:50 AM
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On 15 June 2005 the elections for the new Coadjutor Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East were held in Amman, Jordan. At the end of the second round, the Rev. Canon Suheil Dawani was elected as the new Bishop. He will work alongside the current Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Riah Abu-Assal, for a period of two years.

The Constitution of the Diocese states that when the Bishop reaches the age of 68, a coadjutor Bishop should be elected.

The three candidates in the elections were Rev. Canon Kamal Farah, from Biraam village in upper Galilee, Rev. Canon Suheil Dawani from Ramallah, and Rev. Fayeq Hadad from Amman, Jordan. In the first round the votes were distributed as follows:

Canon Kamal Farah received 16 votes from the House of Clergy and 11 votes from the House of Laity. Canon Suheil Dawani received 7 votes from the House of Clergy and 24 votes from the House of Laity. Rev. Faik Hadad received 6 votes from the House of Clergy and 17 votes from the House of Laity. One abstention was recorded in the House of Clergy. Rev. Faik Hadad was eliminated at the end of the first ballot.

In a second ballot, the remaining two candidates received the following votes:

Canon Kamal Farah received 18 votes from the House of Clergy and 16 votes from the House of Laity, whereas Canon Suheil Dawani received 11 votes from the House of Clergy and 36 votes from the House of Laity. Again there was an abstention in the House of Clergy.

Bishop Elect Suheil Dawani
Photo Credit: Diocese of Jerusalem

Bishop Elect Suheil Dawani was born in Nablus, West Bank, in 1951. He is married to Shafeeqa Fu'ad Massad and has three daughters, Sama, Tala, and Luban. He completed his primary and secondary education in Nablus, obtained his associate degree in Arts in 1973 from Bir-Zeit College, graduated from the New East School of Theology in Beirut in 1975 with a BTH. In 1976 he was ordained as deacon and served the community of Jerusalem for eight months. In 1977 he was ordained to priesthood and served Ramallah and Bir-Zeit parishes in the West Bank. In 1985 he joined Virginia Theological Seminary, where he got a degree of Master in Theology. In 1987 he was moved to Haifa, north of the country, to serve the community of St. John's Episcopal Church. In 1992, he was moved again to serve the community in Ramallah and Bir-Zeit. During that time he founded the ecumenical center, started a housing project for young Christian couples with thirty-three apartments, was able with the leaders of the Churches in Ramallah to unite the main Christian feasts, and established the first evangelical scouts group with the Lutheran Church. In the year 1989 he joined the Virginia Theological Seminary again for the degree of the Doctor in Ministry program. He was able to finish three summers with a pastoral counseling exam. Because of continuous moving he couldn't complete the degree. In 1997, he was moved to serve St. George's Cathedral, and was elected as the General Secretary of the Diocese. In Jerusalem, the ecumenical fellowship was strengthened with the Lutheran and Catholic Churches. St. George's sponsored six summer camps consequently where Moslem and Christian children attended. In 1998 the first scholarship fund was established with the generous contribution of the Habibi family, from which hundreds of Christian students benefited. In the year 2001, Bishop Elect Suheil Dawani led the first Jewish Arab group to Camp Allen in Houston Texas, under the name 'Kids for Peace'. He is the chairman of the Helen Keller Board in Jerusalem, a member in the Clergy for Peace Group, and in the Council of the Dialogue between Faiths. He served for six years as a member in the Central Synod of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Bishop Elect Suheil Dawani is very committed to work hard for the future of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East: "With the support of my colleagues, friends, and family, I have committed myself before God to dedicate myself to utilize my utmost efforts and experience to revive our Church and to enhance the rich Christian faith in the lives of our people. It is my objective to serve the Church, the people, and the parish, and to involve more lay people in the spiritual and social life of the Church and the parish." His future vision will focus especially on the following aspects:

  1. The development of pastoral ministry to achieve the Church's mission;
  2. The family: to encourage good family relationships, strong family bonds and Christian education, and to involve the family in the Church and its activities;
  3. Youth: to develop youth programs, developmental programs, youth leadership programs, summer conferences, volunteering committees, youth exchange programs, employment opportunities, and the integration of youth into all the aspects of the church;
  4. Women: to create equal opportunities for women, to encourage them to participate on the boards of the institutions of the Church and its committees, and to dedicate special local and international workshops and conferences to pastors' spouses;
  5. Administration;
  6. Property and Investment;
  7. Laws and Regulations;
  8. And Public Relations.

Article taken from the newspages of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

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