Bishop Travels to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

I appreciated your prayers as I traveled to Israel and the West Bank. I left Wednesday, January 23, 2019, and flew from O’Hare to Newark and then on to Tel Aviv. I returned to O’Hare on the evening of January 30, 2019.

I traveled with Bishops Laurie Skow-Anderson (Northwest Synod of Wisconsin) and Patricia Davenport (Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod) along with two Churchwide staff persons. This delegation was formed to meet with Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar and learn about the ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Most of our time will be spent in the West Bank with a day trip or two to Jerusalem.

I am glad for your prayers.

Walking with you,
Bishop Jeff Clements

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bishop Jeff Clements is traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel from Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The journey begins. I am part of an ELCA delegation to visit the ELCJHL, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and I will meet up with Bishop Patricia Davenport and Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson in Newark. We are traveling with two Churchwide colleagues, Johanna Olson, and Said Ailabouni. 

Well, the three of us who flew from O’Hare missed our flight from Newark to Tel Aviv. Delay of over an hour waiting to take off, circled Lake Erie for a while, circled near Newark. Rebooked for later tonight. Is it selfish to pray that they find me a different seat than the middle seat I’ve been assigned? Hanging out with Said and Johanna.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Bishop Jeff Clements is at Abraham’s Herberge/Beit Ibrahim Beit Jala, Palestine

I arrived in Tel Aviv this afternoon. From the airport, we drove through Jerusalem on our way to Beit Jala, which is where we are staying. Bishops Davenport and Skow-Anderson arrived as planned about seven hours ahead of us and carried on with the itinerary visiting Dar al-Kalima University, a primary school and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. We have an early start tomorrow, so I’m going to bed! (We are eight hours ahead of Central Time here.)


Friday, January 25, 2019

Photos from today

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Another amazing day full of highlights that began in Ramallah visiting the Lutheran school and ending with a challenging conversation with Bishop Emeritus Munib Younan of the ELCJHL.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Beit Jala.

The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, Bethlehem

We toured Yad Vashem in Jerusalem Sunday afternoon. Coincidentally, it was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Experiencing this remarkable Holocaust museum on this day added to the complexity of trying to understand.


Monday, January 28, 2019

 It was great to catch up with Pastor Carrie Ballenger today! Pastor Carrie serves as an ELCA missionary (rostered in Northern Illinois) to the English speaking congregation in Jerusalem. We also spent time with Bishop Ibrahim Azar of the ELCJHL.
Pastor Carrie Ballenger led our group down the Via Dolorosa. We stopped to pray at each station.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is an awe-inspiring place. We ran short on time here so I didn’t get many pics.

We paid an official visit to Bishop Ibrahim Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. I presented him with a carved replica of our Synod’s cross. We then toured Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, which is where his office is located.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We visited the church and school in Beit Sahour this morning.

We enjoyed lunch and a tour at the LWF Vocational Training Center at Beit Hanina.

Augusta Victoria Hospital, a ministry of the Lutheran Workd Federation, sits atop the Mount of Olives. The CEO gave us a wonderful tour.

An incredible view from the Mount of Olives. This was our final day here with the ELCJHL. I am deeply grateful for this learning opportunity.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Well, as they say, “close but no cigar.” Twenty-four hours of travel have gotten me as far as Chicago. The system broke down with VanGalder’s cancellation of bus service from O’Hare back to Rockford due to the extreme cold. I’ve taken refuge at a hotel and will get home tomorrow morning. All is well. Thanks for the prayers! (Update: The first bus left O’Hare at noon and I was on it! I’m home!)


I want to introduce some people who made this Holy Land trip the wonderful, educational, and transformative experience that it was. Pictured with the three traveling bishops are the Rev. Saïd Ailabouni, ELCA Global Missions Area Desk Director—Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and Johanna Olson, ELCA Global Missions Manager for Relationships—Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. In the second photo are the Rev. Colin Grangaard, YAGM Country Coordinator and Deacon Adrianne Gray, Communications Coordinator for the ELCJHL. In the third picture with me is the Rev. Jen Grangaard, YAGM Country Coordinator, who was also engaged in our time in the Holy Land.

A great experience on my recent trip was a visit to Aida (Palestinian) Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. We joined the YAGMs (ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission) for a cooking class and created a delicious Middle Eastern meal. We heard the stories of our hosts and of our young missionaries.