Sunday, July 17
Special Guest Speaker:  Estephan Salameh

Last summer, as you may recall, I had the opportunity to spend several days in Israel and the West Bank.  

During that visit, I met Estephan Salameh on a visit to Ramallah in the West Bank.  Estephan is a Palestinian Christian, born and raised in the West Bank, has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and works as a consultant to the Palestinian Authority.   He made a presentation to the group I was traveling with.  It was a presentation that had an abiding impact on me.  Here was a man, with a deep Christian faith, working passionately from within to reform the Palestinian Authority and to bring hope and peace to the Palestinian people.  He was full of grace and passion; abounding in realism and hope; deeply committed to peace and justice for all in Israel and the West Bank.  I immediately thought I would love to be able to bring him to Glencoe and have the opportunity for GUC to meet him.  After his presentation I asked if he was ever in the USA.  He said yes.  His wife is from Chicago and they visit every summer.  When I asked if it might be possible for him to visit Glencoe this summer—he said yes.  When I followed up with an email months later, he confirmed his yes and we made a date.  

On Sunday, July 17,  Estephan and I will do a dialogue sermon.  My intention is to have him talk with us about how he seeks to live out his faith in the midst of one of the most conflicted regions and governments in the world and to share with us what reasons he has that a new and hopeful day will dawn there in the future.  Following the service, during our coffee hour, we will have a chance to engage Estephan in a Q&A session.  

I am hopeful that his wife, Laurie, will be able to join him for this visit.  Together they have launched an incredible project:  The Seraj Library Project.  Seraj’s mission it to develop libraries in rural Palestinian villages.  Its mission is to assist in the education of Palestinian villagers of all ages and faiths through the development of high quality and accessible library programs.  The project is based on the belief that civic education is the best route to democracy, human rights and peace.
Join us on the 17th for what is sure to be a memorable morning.
            - David J. Wood