The Holy Land

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God (Matthew 5. 9)

Ash Wednesday Reflection 2024, from Joel Kelling in Jordan

Violence and hatred can never be the solution

We are aware of the need to draw the diverse communities of Oxfordshire together in this time and renew bonds of friendship and a common commitment to peace.

Together, we are horrified by the violence that we are seeing in Israel and Palestine, and the suffering of ordinary people who have lost loved ones and who fear for their own lives and for friends and family members. We hold all the victims and their loved ones in our prayers.

We stand together here in Oxfordshire as religious and community leaders to say that we must continue the good work of community and relationship building that has taken place over many years.

We support and encourage all those working to facilitate honest and respectful conversations and to strengthen the network of good relations, friendships and trust between our communities of which we in Oxfordshire are so proud.

Let peace and understanding be the solution.

Martin Goodman, President of the Oxford Jewish Congregation

Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford

Imam Monawar Hussain Founder, The Oxford Foundation

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council

See the full list of faith and community leaders at

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Please join with us as we pray each day for everyone caught up in the Israel – Hamas conflict

As Jews, Muslims and Christians we are children together of Abraham and ‘People of the Book’, brothers and sisters across the world. We pray to the God of justice and mercy, who hears the cries of the voiceless and is slow to anger and abounding in love.

The candle on the High Altar at St Mary’s has burned for peace and justice in Ukraine continually since early morning 22nd February 2022. Now it burns also for peace and justice in the Holy Land.

We may be many miles away but we still have many connections with individuals affected by the events in Israel and Gaza. As a parish we support the work of Joel and Fiona Kelling (Martin and Diana’s son and daughter-in-law), who live in Jordan and work for CMS (the Church Mission Society) supporting Anglican congregations all across the middle east. Richard Sewell (Sarah’s brother) is Dean of St George’s College Jerusalem and the Anglican church there runs the Al Ahle hospital in Gaza where hundreds died from the notorious explosion. Congregation members have close family and friends in both Israel and Gaza, some of whom have been killed and others who have had to flee. Our member of parliament, Layla Moran, has parents in Gaza who are “too old to flee” and are living in fear. 

We pray for all of these individuals; if you would like us to pray for someone you are worried about please let Felicity know.

In your prayers and reflections you might like to use the following resources:

A statement from the Archbishops

“We are grieved and deeply concerned at the violence in Israel and Gaza, and we unequivocally condemn the attacks by Hamas. We pray for those who are mourning, those who are injured, and all those fearing for their safety. We pray for restraint on all sides, and renewed efforts towards a just peace for all. The way forward must be for both sides to build confidence in a secure future through which Israel and its people can live in security within its internationally recognised borders, and Palestinians have their own state and live in their lands in security, and with peace and justice.”


O God of all
Of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael:
Our hearts are broken in pieces at the suffering and murder of your people.
Our voices cry for peace and for justice.

Comfort those who grieve,
Console and heal the injured,
Be close to those in fear,
Restrain with your mighty hand those who perpetrate violence.

Send us your wisdom in all that we say and do,
That our voice may always seek justice, peace and security for all.

Revd Peter Colwell, Deputy General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

O God of all justice and peace, we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land. Be with those who need you in these days of suffering; we pray for people of all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land. While we pray to you, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace, we also call for you to bring justice and equity to the peoples. Guide us into your kingdom, where all people are treated with dignity and honour as your children, for to all of us you are our Heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Very Revd Canon Richard Sewell, Dean of St George’s College Jerusalem  

Joel Kelling has given a very considered and heartening interview with Tearfund – As conflict rages in Israel and in Gaza, the church is present and continues to show the love of God in the region. Use the link below to read the complete article which finishes with a suggestion for prayer.

Pray for Israel and Gaza
Please pray for the Diocese of Jerusalem, for its clergy and staff and congregations – that they may continue to be examples of the plans God has for all of creation.
Pray that we ourselves, as the church wherever we are, may be people of good will, working together to be light in the darkness.
Pray for an end to war, and for relief and release for those trapped and suffering in it. Ask God that a just and lasting peace may be achieved throughout the Holy Land.

And Fiona Kelling has written a reflection on the difficulty of talking about this dreadful tragedy – “Words under siege”. You can read it here or download using the button below.