PASTORAL APPEAL -Jan. 11th, 2009

PASTORAL APPEAL TO BE READ AT ALL SERVICES

ON SUNDAY JANUARY 11TH 2009

AL AHLI ARAB ANGLICAN HOSPITAL, GAZA

Dear Friends in Christ:

We are all watching with mounting concern the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza. Over 700 civilians have been killed in the last few days in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, most of them non-combatants. The United Nations has suspended relief convoys into the area. There is tremendous suffering among the people.

One of the few remaining hospitals in Gaza is operated by the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem.

I have personally visited there on two occasions, and can testify to the extraordinary work done by dedicated doctors, nurses and support staff, many of whom are volunteers. Four days ago, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem issued this urgent plea for help:

“Every day since the beginning of military operations, the hospital has received 20-40 injured or wounded patients. A large proportion of them require hospitalization and surgery. These patients are in addition to those with non-conflict-related illnesses. About one-fourth of the patients are children.

In addition, the conflict has brought new types of medical and surgical conditions. For example, patients with burns and acute, crippling psychological trauma, are being seen more frequently. Because it is not possible for aid workers to enter Gaza at this time, the hospital’s staff is working around the clock, struggling with the effects of exhaustion and against limited resources in a conflicted area of ongoing military operations.

Many medical items are needed, especially bandages and supplies for burns and trauma. The hospital’s windows have all been blown out or shattered from rocket and missile concussion, and cold permeates the entire premises. Plastic sheeting to cover the windows could alleviate some of the cold but is unavailable now. Food supplies are scant throughout the Gaza strip and maintaining patients’ nutritional needs at the hospital has been difficult, especially for the most vulnerable.”

The Bishop of Jerusalem is asking for financial help from Anglicans around the world.

I feel sure many of us will want to respond. The political roots of this conflict are complex, but we have an opportunity now to respond in a compassionate way to the needs of the suffering regardless of politics.

I invite you today to give a special offering for the Anglican Hospital in Gaza in addition to your regular support of God’s mission through your Parish. I will make sure these gifts go directly and quickly to our sister diocese in Jerusalem within the next few days.

Please make your donation, if you are able, to your own Parish but marked clearly for the “Anglican Hospital in Gaza.”

And let us continue to pray for an end to this conflict, for peace and safety for people on all sides, for mutual respect and co-operation among Christians, Muslims and Jews, and for all who are engaged in the tough work of reconciliation.

Many thanks,

The Right Reverend Michael Ingham

Bishop of New Westminster