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Jerusalem bishop outlines plans for diocesan development

Posted on: July 31, 2013 10:32 AM
Bishop Suheil Dawani
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake / Crosswire
Related Categories: Bp Suheil, Jerusalem, Middle East

The Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Suheil Dawani, has outlined plans for a £33 million British Pounds (US$ 50 million) development plan for the his diocese and is seeking the views of the wider Anglican Communion as the proposals take shape.

The diocese has 7,000 members in 24 parishes across five political regions; and runs two hospitals with 200 beds, two health clinics, 13 schools (including a school for children who are deaf and blind), two rehabilitation and vocational centres and an orphanage. It also runs a college for pilgrims and students, four guest houses in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jordan and Palestine; and employs 1,500 individuals.

It has now drawn up a programme for development covering five key areas: healthcare, education, building a church on the River Jordan, clergy pensions and guest house upgrades.

The diocese says that its top priority is ensure the continued provision of medical treatment to the most vulnerable people of Gaza at its Al Ahli Hospital; and expanding its services to treat cancer. This, together with additional investment in the Zebabdeh Clinic, the Ramallah Clinic and the Birzeit Elderly Home has been costed at £6 million.

It wants to spend £3.5 million on four priority education projects at the Vocational School in Ramallah; the Bishop's School in Husun, Jordan; St John's School in Haifa, Israel; and Christ School, Nazareth, Israel.

The most intriguing development is the building of a new church on land adjacent to the River Jordan donated by King Abdullah II of Jordan to the diocese. The site, at Bethany, was rediscovered in 1996 and is said to be the site where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. This, together with improvements to existing churches in Jerusalem, Ramleh, Nazareth, Acre and Jaffa, will cost £6.4 million.

The diocese also wants to create a £5.3 million endowment to fund clergy pensions and provide economic security to those serving the church; and spend £1.3 million upgrading St Margaret's guest houses in Nazareth and St George's guest houses in Jerusalem that provide a welcome for pilgrims and income for the diocese.

"In order to provide witness for faith and values, serve our neighbours through our ministries in healthcare and education, and host our brothers and sisters in their own pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the diocese is considering a focused fundraising initiative," the bishop said in a written "preliminary case for support. "Through a campaign, we would invite other members of the Communion to support the Church's work in the Holy Land as we face urgent challenges, such as making our ministries more sustainable, maintaining the physical expression of our faith in our churches and institutions, and providing dignified care to our retired clergy."

Anglicanism can date its presence in Jerusalem to a permanent CMS station, established in 1833. The first bishop, the Right Revd Michael Alexander, arrived in 1841 and the first Anglican church, Christ Church at Jaffa Gate in the Old City, was dedicated in 1845. In 1898, St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem was built and dedicated in 1898. Bishop Suheil Dawani, the 14th Anglican bishop in Jerusalem, was enthroned in On April 2007.

The diocese of Jerusalem has prepared a two-page summary of its proposals and brief electronic survey to gauge the views of Anglican and Episcopal members and charitable foundations about their priorities and to discover the likely levels of support. The survey can be accessed here.