Special Event: “We Refuse to be Enemies”

photo of Daoud NassarOn March 11, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. Faith United Methodist Church will host a very special guest: Mr. Daoud Nassar, one of the brothers whose family owns and operates the Tent of Nations (www.tentofnations.org), an educational and environmentally conscious farm located in the West Bank of Israel.

The 100-acre farm located 6 kilometers from Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, and is surrounded on three sides by Israeli settlements. The Nassar family has owned and operated the farm since 1916 – over 100 years. And yet, the family has been involved in a legal battle since 1991 when the farm was classified as “Israeli State Land” and thus threatened with confiscation. They want to retain what they believe rightfully belongs to their family, and they are working toward that goal in a peaceful and diplomatic manner.

We Refuse to be Enemies - Tent of NatiionsAs an Ambassador of good will, Mr. Nassar travels to the United States and speaks at various venues under the sponsorship of an organization called Friends of Tent of Nations North America (fotonna.org). He shares the story of his family’s commitment to living a life of non-violent resistance and refusing to be enemies in the face of continuing obstacles that they, and most Palestinians, face in their search for a normal life. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies from the Bethlehem Bible College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the Bethlehem University, and a degree in Tourism Management from Bielefeld University in Germany. He also speaks and understands several languages, including Arabic, German, Hebrew, and English.

During our Holy Land Pilgrimage last October, David and I visited the Tent of Nations farm. We met with Daoud’s brother, Daher, and learned about the difficulties their family and Palestinian friends in the region face every day. We were struck by the family’s commitment to peaceful resistance and their desire to create a space where people of all nations, races, and religions can meet, learn, and work together. They refuse to be enemies and instead choose to channel their pain and frustration with an unjust system into positive actions that will build relationships and a better future.

Photo by AnikóMr. Nassar will be speaking at Faith United Methodist Church, located at 8640 N. 19th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ on March 11 at 4 pm. His presentation, which will include time for questions and answers from the audience, will be followed by a meal (at the nearby Sweet Tomatoes restaurant) during which we hope our conversations with Mr. Nassar and each other will continue. As part of the church’s commitment to building bridges through understanding and dialogue, we look forward to Mr. Nassar’s visit and invite people from other churches and the community to attend.

Donations will be accepted at the event to help cover Mr. Nassar’s travel expenses.

Honoring the Past…Looking Forward to the Future

During the months of March and April, in addition to observing the holy season of Lent, Faith United Methodist Church is also celebrating 50 years of faithful service in north Phoenix. Back in 1965, when Phoenix was a growing city of about 500,000 residents, Rev. C. Edwin Daniel, who at the time was serving as Minister of Education at Cross Roads Methodist Church located at Central and Northern Avenues, was appointed to be the founding pastor of a new church located on 19th Avenue between Northern and Dunlap, in a neighborhood known as Royal Palms. In the weeks that followed his appointment, Rev. Daniel and his Steering Committee decided the new church would be called “Faith.” Land was purchased and plans were made for the first worship service, which was held on March 7, 1965 at Washington Elementary School, just a few blocks away. Six Sundays later, on April 11, 1965, Faith Methodist Church was official born following its Charter Sunday worship service. It was indeed an historic moment for this new church called Faith and for the courageous men and women who stepped out in faith and answered God’s call to organize a new faith community dedicated to the premise that serving others is more important than being served.

Since that historic day, Faith Church has been served by 8 pastors who have continued the church’s original core values. During the last 50 years, Faith Methodist Church has done so much to help other people, especially those less fortunate than themselves. Even today, those attending Faith United Methodist Church have dedicated themselves to helping other people, which is why our church motto is People Caring For People. We serve God by serving God’s people. It’s part of our DNA, not only as United Methodists, but as members of a church founded on the principle that “the church is to be a servant to all of humanity” (C. Edwin Daniel, April 1965).

It is an honor for me to be serving Faith United Methodist Church as its pastor during this historic time. Listening to current and former members as they share memories of their activities and ministries has been absolutely inspirational. The people of Faith have blessed so many people – people who have lost all hope – and I know we will continue to be a blessing for many years to come. Yes, the neighborhood around the church has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, but the needs have not. As long as God’s people are struggling – and we all struggle from time to time – the people of Faith will have work to do, and we look forward to sharing that work with others who share the same values we do. We love engaging in vibrant worship of a God who loves us and offers us grace. We love being in fellowship with one another, and inviting others to join us in that fellowship. We love serving God’s people in a variety of different ways, and we have hope for a better tomorrow because we believe in the saving power of Jesus’ life and resurrection.

So as we celebrate our past, we look forward to our future as God’s people and God’s church. We will continue to honor the ministries that have made Faith United Methodist Church such a blessing to so many, but we will also look forward to the many opportunities for ministry in the future. God has so much for us to do…won’t you join us?

God bless, Pastor Jody