For the Rev. Canon Richard LeSueur, the meaning of Jerusalem Sunday was encapsulated in a letter he received from Archbishop Michael Peers, then-Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, while living in Jerusalem during the First Intifada.
“We would go to bed at night and we would hear gunfire echoing off the Mount of Olives,” recalled LeSueur, who was teaching at St. George’s College at the time. “It was a tremendously stressful time. There were a lot of military vehicles then and many incidents that were occurring, and you feel so far away.”
Currently on the advisory council of the Canadian Companions of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, LeSueur was moved to tears by the letter from Archbishop Peers, which he said included the following words: “You are not forgotten. You are being remembered by your church a long way away, and we are holding you in our prayers.”
“That’s why we do Jerusalem Sunday,” LeSueur said. “And that’s why we have Companions of Jerusalem—because it means so much when they know that we have not forgotten them, and we are praying for them and we care about them.”
May 8, 2016 marks the third Jerusalem Sunday, an annual day set aside by the Anglican Church of Canada to celebrate its companionship in God’s mission with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which includes congregations in Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
LeSueur, who recently resigned his position as rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in Cadboro Bay, B.C. to devote himself full-time to speaking about Jerusalem, the Companions of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem Sunday, noted the biblical precedent set by St. Paul, who devoted a significant portion of his letters to collections for the church in Jerusalem.
Paul, LeSueur said, “cared deeply and was deeply committed to ensure that the needs of the Christian community in Jerusalem were supported, and really, we’re carrying on that. There is a church there and we can learn from them and we can also support them.”
A wide range of resources are available online for parishes and congregations to celebrate Jerusalem Sunday, including sermon notes, prayers, liturgical resources, photos, and information on the diocese.
Jerusalem Sunday 2016 will see a number of new resources make their debut. Chief among them is the launch of a Facebook page for the Companions of Jerusalem, where weekly stories about the diocese of Jerusalem are posted. New exegetical notes, a bulletin cover, and new story inserts are also available.
Along with praying for the diocese of Jerusalem, a major part of Jerusalem Sunday is collecting money to support its ministries—in particular the Penman Medical Clinic, a primary care facility in the West Bank town of Zababdeh. Run by the parish of St. Matthew, the Penman Clinic provides subsidized, affordable care to the surrounding population of 20,000 in Zababdeh and surrounding villages.
Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, has explained the central role of the Penman Clinic for the diocese by noting Jesus’s work in healing the sick. Through collections from Jerusalem Sunday, the Anglican Church of Canada has helped support the clinic, raising more than $14,000 during one particular year.
“Even if we can only send a small amount of money to support an initiative in a remote rural area south of Nazareth in a medical clinic … even that small gesture means so much,” LeSueur said.
Anglicans can support the Penman Clinic through a special gift from parish offerings or Gifts for Mission. Offerings can also be sent by cheque—made out to the “Anglican Church of Canada” with “Jerusalem Sunday Penman Clinic” written in the notes—to:
Resources for Mission
Anglican Church of Canada
80 Hayden Street
Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, April 28, 2016