On March 10-14, 2014, Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), participated in the third ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference hosted by Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, where he spoke about the importance of peace building. He also met with Israeli and Palestinian government representatives, urging them to grant official recognition to evangelical churches.
“While Christians in both Israel and Palestine have the freedom of worship there are still some significant injustices that need corrective action,” said Dr. Tunnicliffe in his speech on Thursday evening. “Evangelical Christians have dwelled in this land for many years and yet their churches do not have official recognition by the State. It is beyond time, that this recognition should be granted.”
Unlike the established traditional denominations, evangelical churches currently do not enjoy some of the basic rights related to marriage, burial and other religious issues.
“I call upon the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authorities to grant this recognition,” Dr. Tunnicliffe continued, and stated: “This is not only a call for justice and democracy but it will also create a more stable context. Evangelical Christians in this region make a contribution to building a prosperous and thriving community. Treating them as third class citizens does not empower them to reach such a shared goal or even remain in the land.”
Following the conference, Dr. Tunnicliffe had very constructive meetings with senior leaders of the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, several other government officials, Jewish scholars and rabbis, and also the Palestinian prime minister, to discuss the recognition of evangelicals in the Holy Land. During his visit, he also met with leaders of the Evangelical Alliance of Israel and the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land (Palestinian Territories) which are both national member bodies of the World Evangelical Alliance.