Grace Presbyterian Church — Springfield, Virginia
The deep, enduring friendship between the people of Grace Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Virginia, and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Nablus, Palestine, has its roots – as so many important things do – in a Sunday school lesson.
When a former minister, Susan Wilder, returned from three years in Jerusalem in 2002, she and her husband Tim taught a class about the challenges of life in Palestine. Grace’s current pastor, Ben Trawick, said that from the first class Grace’s members were looking for ways to share ministry with a partner church in Palestine. Their 12-year friendship with St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in the northern West Bank city of Nablus was born.
From the start, connections were strong — from a real-time signing of a covenant between the two congregations to numerous visits of Grace members to Nablus and trips to Virginia by members of St. Philip’s. The two congregations exchange video greetings and have created Advent devotionals in both Arabic and English.
“That’s the nature of this congregation. They are mission-minded and committed to hands-on, direct involvement where possible. Our members were called and compelled to respond once the message was shared by Susan Wilder,” said Trawick. Of the annual youth exchanges between Virginia and Nablus, he explained, “Having friends who are Palestinian will never allow our young people to read the headlines the same way again.”
— Heidi Shott
Read more about this partnership at: pres-outlook.org/graceandpalestine
Share your 150-word story of “what’s right” with the Outlook by emailing it to [email protected].