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St John’s to host ‘Holy Land’ exhibition amidst crisis

Holy Land exhibition at St John’s Cathedral will highlight the needs of the different people affected by the current war in the region and how visitors can respond to the crisis.

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, under the auspices of Dean Fr Alan Hodgson and Bishop Peter, will host a poignant and impactful exhibition, “The 50 Faces of the Holy Land,” from January 18 to February 1. This event, a project of the Holy Land Coordination of the CBCEW, aims to raise awareness and support for the Christian community in the Holy Land amidst ongoing crises.

Previously displayed in esteemed venues such as the Houses of Parliament, the exhibition showcases the resilience and faith of those living in the Holy Land. It’s a visual narrative that echoes their struggles and hopes, exemplified in the captivating images now in the custody of Friends of the Holy Land. The exhibition’s powerful impact can be previewed through photographs from its previous display at Coventry Cathedral, available here.

Brendan Metcalfe, the voice behind this initiative, emphasized the significance of the exhibition in stirring empathy and action: “Sadly, although the terrible events that have been unfolding before our eyes on the TV since 7 October have drawn a strong empathetic response from many people in the UK, many have struggled to identify a route to make a personal difference to provide some relief to those suffering.”

In light of the recent distressing events in the region, broadcasted since October 7, this exhibition arrives at a crucial time. While many in the UK have felt a strong empathetic response, finding a tangible way to make a difference has been challenging for many. “The 50 Faces of the Holy Land” not only educates but also presents an avenue for meaningful support through Friends of the Holy Land.

This charity, operating in both the UK and Palestine, has been a lifeline for the Christian community. Since October, it has channelled over £100,000 directly to Gaza, supporting essential supply acquisitions for the community seeking refuge in places like the Holy Family Catholic Church and the Al-Ahli Hospital. Brendan shares, “We have increased our support of the vulnerable families in the West Bank facing unemployment, we have maintained all our projects, and we stand ready to develop new projects to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in the aftermath of this war.”

Friends of the Holy Land also encourages spiritual solidarity through its online prayers and reflections, inviting the global community to unite in hope and support. As a recognized and verified charity, free from any affiliations with proscribed organizations, it stands as a credible and safe channel for humanitarian aid.

The exhibition is not just a display; it’s an invitation to action. We urge various groups, including Justice & Peace groups, Diocesan Youth, and Schools services, to visit and incorporate this experience into their curricula and activities. This is an opportunity to engage with current global issues on a personal level and perhaps inspire some to volunteer with the mission in Norwich.

Moreover, a special Vespers service dedicated to Peace in the Holy Land, planned for January 23 at the Cathedral, will further highlight the exhibition’s message. The details of this service, once finalized, will be communicated widely, reinforcing the call for peace and unity.

Finally, Brendan shares: “It is registered as a charity both in the UK and Palestine so it maintains its own office in Bethlehem and most importantly operates its own bank account in country so payments can be made directly to those in need. Since October, Friends of the Holy Land has sent over £100,000 directly into Gaza such that the largely Christian community of around 1,000 sheltering in the Holy Family Catholic Church, the St Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church and the Al-Ahli Hospital were able to buy and stockpile essential supplies of water, food, medicines so that they could survive the war (see attached letters evidencing first payments – more have followed since) – a humble contribution in the midst of the current humanitarian crisis. We have increased our support of the vulnerable families in the West Bank facing unemployment, we have maintained all our projects, and we stand ready to develop new projects to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in the aftermath of this war.

“It has been examined by both the Charities Commission and the Governments’ Fraud Dept in the last 18 months in connection with the total proscription of Hamas as a terrorist organisation and found to be a ‘safe pair of hands’ for funding projects.

“As an ecumenical charity it has the broad support of Church Leaders around the UK led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Justin Welby as patrons and so we hope to unite Christian communities around the UK in support of their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.”

Find out more here