The 2019 Assembly of the Virginia Synod, ELCA resolved to encourage congregations of our Synod to designate a Sunday in October 2019 as “Tent of Nations Sunday.” The suggested date is Sunday, October 20, 2019, the beginning of the olive harvest.
Tent of Nations Sunday has three purposes: it is a day for corporate and individual prayers, education of congregations and individuals, and encouraging visits to the Tent of Nations to learn and volunteer at the Nassar farm to experience and participate in its mission of building bridges of peace and understanding between people.
History: Palestinian Lutheran Christians have been a continuing presence in Israel and Palestine since German and English Christians came to support the Christian minority in Palestine in the mid-19th century, today they are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). Our ELCA is an ongoing ministry partner with the ELCJHL.
What is Tent of Nations? The Nassar family of Bethlehem, Palestine, are Lutheran Palestinians who since 1916 have owned 100 acres of land in the West Bank near Bethlehem (in Area C), and George Nassar, one of the nine Nassar siblings, is a member of Christ The King Lutheran Church, Richmond, Virginia.
The Nassar family’s deed of ownership of the land since 1916 continues to be contested by the Israeli Supreme Court and Israeli Military Court, restrictions that apply to all Palestinian land in the West Bank, making it practically impossible to farm or make a living.
The Nassars founded the Tent of Nations on their farm (known as “Daher’s Vineyard”) to gather people of the world for workshops, to provide opportunities for volunteers from many countries to help cultivate the land and to support the continuing mission of the farm and the Women’s Center in the village of Nahalin, and to invite visitors to come together to learn, to share, and to build bridges of understanding and hope at home and abroad.
The Tent of Nations, motivated by Christian faith, seeks to embody a positive approach in the face of conflict and occupation, following the command of Jesus to “love your enemies” and thus the motto of Tent of Nations is “We refuse to be enemies.” They strive to channel pain and frustration into positive actions in order to build relationships leading to a better future.
The Tent of Nations is working towards becoming completely self-sustaining in regard to food, water, and electricity, with a vision toward developing a vocational training and education center on the farm which will provide a space for children, young people, and adults of all faiths to learn about alternative energy, organic farming, and community building.
Congregations and individuals can learn more online at Tent of Nations (www.tentofnations.org) including information on farming and peace-building workshops, and through Friends of Tent of Nations North America (www.fotonna.org), an all-volunteer charitable organization.
Interested individuals may also register now for a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land that includes a visit to the Tent of Nations and is scheduled for May 1-11, 2020. The cost is $3,000 and includes round-trip airfare from Dulles (IAD) to Tel Aviv (TLV) and 4-star accommodations. Contact Pastor Elizabeth Yates for more information: (804) 968-8648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.