Greetings from the Holy Land! I write this E-pistle from Jerusalem where I am traveling with the ordinands, their families, and other pilgrims - 7 busloads altogether - on our Holy Land trip. It has been a wonderful and safe trip so far. The only problems were caused by the weather for some to leave Indiana, which resulted in airline delays and changes, but everyone arrived safely. We are enjoying WONDERFUL WEATHER here in Israel - sunny skies, highs most days near 75 degrees, and a beautiful time of the year to see this wonderful land.
Our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee was peaceful this year, as opposed to two years ago when we were hit with a strong rainstorm. Our time of baptism renewal in the Jordan River was warm and lovely. The travel down to Jericho and Qumran by the Dead Sea was downright hot, as is often true at the lowest point on earth.
Today is Sunday, so our entire group of went to worship at St. George's Anglican Cathedral, just two blocks from our hotel. It was a wonderful service, led by their Anglican pastors with great hospitality, and it included some of our ordinands doing the scripture readings, and I also shared in serving the communion. Our group sang (at the invitation of the pastor) Wesleyan hymns in that cathedral where the music sounded wonderful and glorious. We sang "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" during the offering, various communion songs like "Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees" and "Amazing Grace" during communion, and then we closed with another Wesleyan hymn "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" to close the service.
Most of our groups are touring Jerusalem today: the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, and other parts of the old city. It is a beautiful day to walk those streets and to sense the history and the spiritual heritage of this place.
I have enjoyed my opportunity to get better acquainted with our 31 clergy who were ordained in recent years. I am impressed with their energy (most are a lot younger than me), their eagerness to learn, and their passion for ministry. They are absorbing so much that will enrich their preaching and their personal faith.
We have also had Bible lectures, presentations on the current political issues here in Israel, and prayed for peace. At the cathedral this morning, their service included a special Liturgy o"Praying for Peace in the Gaza" that was quite moving.
In the next few days we will be visiting the Garden Tomb for our closing communion worship service and then starting the long trip home. Please continue to pray for safe travel, good weather, and cooperative airline schedules for us.
And please know that all of us from Indiana this morning prayed for you -- our Indiana congregations and friends and family - during our worship here in Jerusalem.
Shalom ... peace ... may the Peace of Christ be with you.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner