Fulfilling a portion of its mandate by the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Middle East Monitoring Group (MEMG) has finished its work on a study guide for the Kairos Palestine document. The guide is available for download.

According to the MEMG’s preamble to the study guide, it “is designed for ordinary Presbyterians, who may have little experience with the plight of Palestinian Christians or the dynamics of the larger Israeli-Palestinian struggle, to better understand what our sisters and brothers in Christ from that region are experiencing and saying about faith and life in the Holy Land through the Kairos Palestine document.”

The Kairos Palestine document (“A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering”) was released in December 2009 by a group of Palestinian Christian theologians, many of whom belong to churches that are partners with the PC(USA).

“One of the hopes expressed by our Palestinian Christian partners is that the document will energize others to join the struggle for a just peace in Palestine and Israel,” said the Reverend Ron Shive, member of the monitoring group.

In directing the MEMG to create the study guide, the 219th General Assembly (2010) commended the Kairos Palestine document to the PC(USA) for study and endorsed the document’s “emphases on hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy, and reconciliation.” The assembly also “lift[ed] up for study the often neglected voice of Palestinian Christians.”

In addition to containing the Kairos Palestine document, the study guide is comprised of three sessions structured around the document’s governing themes of faith, hope, and love. Also included is a leader’s guide with background information for each session.

According to the MEMG, the study guide integrates the General Assembly’s endorsed emphases of hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy, and reconciliation.

“This study guide is designed for people coming to the Kairos Palestine document from the full range of different commitments and backgrounds,” said the Reverend J.C. Austin, member of the monitoring group.

Austin continued, “By integrating the themes held up by the General Assembly with the main themes of the document itself, I think we’ve created space for all sorts of people to come together and hear both the voices of Palestinian Christians and one another: listening, discussing, responding, and learning.”

The MEMG has also included a brief resource on the background and context of the Kairos Palestine document, as well as the letter from the authors of the document and the response from the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land.

Elder Laurie Anderson, chairperson of the MEMG, said, “Clearly the issues of Middle East peacemaking are complex; as the monitoring group wrestled with our passions surrounding this issue, we wanted to give those who use this study guide some basic tools to have these often difficult conversations.”

Anderson said that the MEMG’s deep desire is to mirror the spirit of the 219th General Assembly (2010) where many groups from often opposing perspectives on Middle East peacemaking issues came together in unity in the bond of the Holy Spirit.

She added, “What we witnessed at the assembly was a common agreement to speak respectfully from our individual commitments, to listen well to the voices of others, and to strive to find new ways to work together for justice and peace in the region.”

In addition to Anderson, Austin, and Shive, members of the Middle East Monitoring Group are the Reverends Roula Alkhouri, Bill Borror, Laura M. Cheifetz, and Jeffrey DeYoe.