December 2015 

Annual Conferences »
Task Force on Africa
Alliances »
Palestinian Business Committee Offers Support
Boycott / Divestment »
Another Victory to Report
Education »
Looking Toward Lent
Funding Our Work »
Volunteer with a Vision
General Conference »
Plans for Portland
Holy Land Tours »
Last Chance for February Trip
U.S. Policy »
Churches to State Department:
Investigate Abuse!
News and Commentary »
A Missionary's Struggle
Sharing the Gift 

Dear Friends,

In this holy season, as Christians celebrate God's gift of Christ to the world, we affirm Christ’s presence with all who work for justice in His name. Whether we are confronting Islamophobia and racism or talking to people about Palestine, we can be reflections of God's great love for the world.

We demonstrate the power of that love when we work together in UMKR. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine our resources and talents, inspiring new action for justice in our church and society, and providing hope to the oppressed.

If you have not yet made your tax-deductible donation to enable the life-changing work of UMKR, we encourage you do that today by clicking here.
As we begin 2016, may we be renewed in the joy of the Spirit, committed to working for justice, and open to letting Christ lead the way.
Wishing you blessings in the New Year,
Michael Yoshii and Susanne Hoder
UMKR Co-chairs
Annual Conference Organizing
Task Force on Africa

What a blessing it is to be in touch with African leaders, learning about the issues of concern to them while sharing our concerns about church funds invested in Israel's occupation! We are finding so many parallels between the colonial experience in African nations and the colonial oppression in Palestine. In both cases, outsiders have seized land to establish their own segregated communities, while launching businesses that exploit the resources of the country they are colonizing. In both, disregard for the health and lives of native peoples has led to pollution, disease and an uprooting of families from their ancestral land.

John Wagner, who chairs our Annual Conference Organizing Committee, has convened a new UMKR task force on Africa, to understand more about these issues and to reach out to delegates who will face many competing resolutions when they come to General Conference next May. Our goal is to establish partnerships that inform UMKR members about contemporary African concerns and join Central Conference delegates as well as US delegates in our common work for justice. 

If you would like to learn more, or to be a UMKR contact person in your conference, please email John Wagner at
Palestinian Business Committee Offers Support

UMKR has received a wonderful offer of assistance from a group of the top business leaders in Palestine and their organization here in the U.S. The Palestinian Business Committee for Peace and Reform works to educate American policymakers and the general public about the challenges faced by the Palestinian private sector. Most Americans find it difficult to conceive of running a company where water for business and personal use is rationed according to ethnic group, and where raw materials and finished products may not reach their destinations on time due to mobile checkpoints and closures.  
On May 11, 2015, the committee held a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington to describe some of the hurdles faced by Palestinian banks and manufacturing firms.  The audience listened in wonder at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that these business leaders confront every day, and at the dignity, grace and determination they exhibit in the face of overwhelming odds.  These testimonies are good to share with business leaders here in the U.S., and can be found at

Zahi Khoury, the Chairman of Coca-Cola Palestine, is a founding member of this committee, and shared his support for divestment with delegates at General Conference 2012. Other business leaders will join us at General Conference next May.  We are immensely grateful for the witness they can bring.
Boycott and Divestment
Another Victory to Report!

Quietly and without fanfare, Israeli linen producer Royalife has left the Barkan Industrial Zone. This has been confirmed by several Israeli sources.  Earlier this year, UMKR discovered that Williams Sonoma was selling sheets produced by the company in Barkan, an illegal settlement in the West Bank.  After UMKR wrote to Williams Sonoma, preparations for Royalife to relocate apparently began, and we have just received word that the move is complete. There is no word yet on the new location, and UMKR will monitor this situation closely to be sure the company's manufacturing is no longer being done in any of the illegal settlements. We ARE making a difference!
Looking Toward Lent

The Education Committee hopes you are enjoying the new worship resources developed in partnership with Kairos USA and posted on our website. They are asking for your help to expand the shared collection of Palestine-themed sermons, prayers, poems, music, and litanies for other special times on the church calendar. Submissions of material appropriate to Lent and to the other seasons of 2016 would be appreciated. Items for Lent must be submitted by Jan. 4, 2016, and other items must be submitted to the Committee at least two months prior to the date for their intended use. 

There is a special hope for Palestinian voices among these worship resources, but all submissions are encouraged and welcomed. If you have a suggestion for this project, please email it to UMKR Education Chair Julie Harris at
Funding Our Work
Why I Support UMKR 

My name is Linda Hiebert Sekiguchi.  As a youngster, I recall my family assembling Christmas bundles to be distributed to Palestinian families by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).  Over the intervening years, I sporadically tuned in to reports from MCC volunteers in the region. More recently, I chose to gather first-hand information for myself—in 2008 with the Compassionate Listening Project and in 2010 with Susanne Hoder’s United Methodist study team. These experiences profoundly affected me as I witnessed the truly sobering suffering of the Palestinian people. I committed myself to making a difference by supporting the Palestinian people along with like-minded Christians. I was privileged to be a 2010 founding member of United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) in Chicago. 

UMKR is the sole entity within the United Methodist church that questions the false narrative of “Christian Zionism.” The organization faces mammoth challenges as it attempts to reach the 12 million plus members of the United Methodist church with its message:  God loves all people; God loves Palestinians; Palestinians deserve dignity, respect, and human rights; we must support our Palestinian brothers and sisters in their attempts to alleviate the trials and tribulations brought by the occupation. I believe that any progress we make is well worth whatever financial support  I am able to give to UMKR. I urge you to consider the value of your contribution to UMKR.

Linda Hiebert Sekiguchi 
(Woman with the white cane)
Carson Valley United Methodist Church

Linda Sekiguchi is legally blind, but she possesses a clarity of vision for justice that is inspiring. To answer her call for donations to UMKR, please click here.
General Conference Organizing
Portland Plans

Plans are in place for a UMKR learning session at 7 pm on the evening of January 20th about legislation to divest from companies that have refused to end their involvement with Israel's occupation. This will follow a reception for those attending the pre-General Conference briefing, and light Mediterranean fare will be served. We will also discuss the screens that have been proposed to avoid investment in companies located in the illegal settlements or helping sustain them.   

Joining us at that forum will be members of the Palestinian Business Committee for Peace and Reform, and members of the local Portland Jewish community who support divestment. We will also hear from Palestinian Muslims and Christians affected by the occupation about the hope that divestment would provide. If you would like to join us at that briefing, please contact
Holy Land Tours
Last Chance for February Trip

The December 18th deadline for Janet Lahr Lewis's United Methodist Trip to the Holy Land has passed, but there is still a small window of opportunity to sign up. For more information, contact Janet at The all-inclusive price for the ten-day tour is $3200.

Any delegate to the General Conference 2016 who wishes to go on this eye-opening trip may find some scholarship funds still available.

Janet Lahr Lewis is a former United Methodist missionary to Israel and Palestine.
U.S. Policy
Churches seek end to Israel's human rights abuses

The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society was one of eleven churches and faith-based organizations that visited the U.S. State Department on December 9th to express concern about specific, documented cases of human rights abuse by the Israeli military and security forces. (See the list of organizations here.)

The groups said that they were seeking accountability for these human rights abuses since Israel is such a large recipient of U.S. military assistance, and such abuses are expressly prohibited by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and several annual Defense Department appropriations acts. The provisions in these laws are often referred to as the "Leahy Laws" or "Leahy amendments." The Foreign Assistance Act states "No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights."

The organizations said that, with the information provided, the Department of State should designate the military units involved as ineligible for foreign assistance. They are collecting information on other violations by Israeli security forces and plan to submit additional cases for review. The group stands against all human rights abuses wherever they occur. 

News and Commentary
A Missionary's Struggle 

Our United Methodist missionaries in the Holy Land are our witnesses on the ground and the embodiment of Christ's love and hope to those who suffer. Yet often they feel overwhelmed, and in this dark time they need our prayers. This month, Tina Whitehead, who is currently serving in Jerusalem, has shared with UMKR the painful reality she encounters every day: 
"Friends, It’s been a difficult time to be here. Everything seems to be falling apart. People are losing hope. Everyday I see Israel tightening its control on the Palestinian people. Yesterday, it was police confiscating goods that were being sold on the street near Damascus Gate; the day before it was military tearing down Arab/Muslim signs in the marketplace, again across from Damascus Gate. Stories of parents being afraid to let their children out of the house for fear they will be beaten or arrested for no reason. Executions of young Palestinians, given no trial, but just shot while reportedly carrying knives or whatever excuse is given. It’s all very depressing. Add to that the loss of some of our strong Palestinian leaders and the future looks bleak. The course I teach is entitled “Hope in the Absence of Hope.” It’s becoming a challenge...And still, here I am! My heart is here and I am encouraged by people like you who continue the fight."

May these words renew our resolve to educate and act for justice. 
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Our work can't continue without the help of those who believe in it! Please make a donation to UMKR in whatever amount you are able - all gifts are appreciated and none are too small.
United Methodist Kairos Response is a global grassroots movement in the United Methodist Church responding to the urgent call from Palestinian Christians - in Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth - for effective action to end the Israeli occupation and support a just peace in the Holy Land. 

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