|Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land|
|Leader||Sani Ibrahim Azar|
|Associations||LWF, Middle East Council of Churches, WCC|
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) is a Lutheran denomination that has congregations in Jordan and State of Palestine. First recognized as an autonomous religious community by King Hussein in 1959, the church currently has 2,500 members in six congregations.
The current bishop is Sani Ibrahim Azar, who was elected in 2017, but consecrated as bishop on 14 January 2018. The bishop emeritus, Munib Younan, retains an official role. Younan is the former President of the Lutheran World Federation (2010–2017), and remains a member of the ELCJHL Council.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land has its origins in the arrival of German and English Protestant missionaries to Jerusalem in the mid 19th century. Protestant missions had begun in the early 19th century, but Protestant Christians had no legal protection in the Ottoman Empire, unlike the Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, who were legally protected by treaty. In 1840, the King of Prussia, Frederick William IV sent his diplomat, Christian von Bunsen to present a proposal to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom for the establishment of a joint Protestant bishopric under the protection of both Prussia and the United Kingdom.
An agreement was reached to establish a joint bishopric of the Anglican Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Prussia, comprising Lutheran, Calvinist and united Protestant congregations, known as the Anglican-German Bishopric in Jerusalem and this was facilitated by the passing of the Bishops in Foreign Countries Act 1841. The first Bishop was a Jewish convert, Michael Solomon Alexander, who arrived in 1842.
In 1851, Theodor Fliedner was invited to bring four deaconesses to begin a hospital and the first formal school for girls in the Levant, Talitha Kumi, was set up in Jerusalem. In 1860, Johann Ludwig Schneller set up the Syrian Orphanage in Jerusalem for children who were made homeless or orphaned by civil war in the region.
A provisional chapel for the use of the Prussian Protestants was erected in 1871 on land granted by Sultan Abdülaziz in the Muristan area of Jerusalem. Due to political and theological differences, the joint bishopric was finally abolished in 1886 and the Evangelical mission continued work independently of the Anglicans. Lutherans focused primarily on social work and education while the Anglicans focused on evangelism.
In 1898, the newly constructed Church of the Redeemer was officiated by Kaiser Wilhelm II and served as the headquarters of the Evangelical mission.
After the Second World War the World Lutheran Federation (WLF) took care of the remnants of the German-initiated Evangelical missions, combining Lutheran, Calvinist and united Protestant efforts. Due to the influence of the WLF the Lutheran aspect prevailed. In 1947, the Lutheran mission was granted autonomy from the Evangelical Church in Germany and in 1959 was recognised as an autonomous religious community by King Hussein of Jordan. The church was then officially named the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (ELCJ). The ELCJ had by then grown beyond Jerusalem and had set up congregations in Ramallah and Amman to serve Lutheran Palestinians who were refugees of the Arab–Israeli conflict.
In 1974, the ELCJ joined the WLF and in 1979 the first Palestinian bishop, Daoud Haddad, was elected to lead the church. In 2005, the Synod of the ELCJ decided to rename the church to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land to more accurately reflect the work and ministry of the church that spans Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The ELCJHL holds episcopal polity. The Bishop leads the central church structures and is the chief pastor. Bishops are consecrated within the historic Apostolic succession.
At present, there are 6 congregations of the ELCJHL:
The ELCJHL runs four primary schools and other educational projects that serve the broader educational needs of the Palestinian people as a whole. The four primary schools are:
The ELCJHL also actively supports the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon.
The ELCJHL participates actively in ecumenical relationships through:
The ELCJHL also works in partnership with:
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