The 2013 National Gathering of The Friends of the Holy Land met on Saturday (7th September) to plan next year’s work among the poorest Christian people in the Holy Land, and to look back over a busy and successful year. Eighty Friends and their supporters came to the National Gathering from Catholic and Anglican parishes across the country.
The charity’s projects help needy Christian children, families and the elderly in the West Bank and Gaza, and has now extended that to Syrian Christians fleeing to Jordan.
‘The last year has been incredibly busy, and we’ve continued the rapid growth or our first years’, said Peter Rand, Acting Chairman of Friends of the Holy Land (FHL). ‘It’s also been a year of great sadness, when our founding Chairman, Dr Michael Whelan, died, and inevitably we’re still missing Michael as a dear friend and a great inspiration. However, we can’t allow ourselves to be distracted, as the need among Christian people and communities in the Holy Land for help and support is growing, too. Their situation isn’t improving, and the additional pressures on the region are inevitably adding to their difficulties and to our concerns.’
To date the charity has raised over £850,000 since its foundation in November 2009, and helps and supports Christians in the Holy Land, to ensure the continuation there of a viable and resilient Christian community. It concentrates on education, medical and social projects, including direct support to poor families and refugees.
The National Gathering, the charity’s third annual meeting, took place in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, and began with Mass in St Francis of Assisi church. The afternoon session introduced for the first time two guest speakers, Mr Mark Madden, a parish priest with considerable experience of and close contacts in the Holy Land, and Dr Harry Hagopian, adviser on the Middle East and North Africa to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Dr Hagopian’s experience of the region and its difficulties goes back many years.
‘Both our guest speakers proved exceptionally valuable, and added greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the issues that affect our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. We now look forward to another busy year, and to our first FHL Pilgrimage later this month. A major feature of this will be direct contact with Christians in Palestine and visits to our projects there, to further our links of friendship and support.’
Further information from John Bradshaw, 07733 543309 email@example.com
FHL, 2 Station Road, Kenilworth CV8 1JJ
01926 512980 Fax 01926 850946
Registered Charity Number 1130054