Pilgrim Stories: AFEDJ Trustee Judy Quick

January 5, 2023- Posted in Pilgrim Stories, Pilgrimage

Why does the Holy Land draw me in? What is it about Jerusalem that holds my heart?

Deacon Quick (center) with two young women from the vocational program of the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf.

I’ve had the privilege of making the traditional pilgrimage to the Holy Land since the mid-1990’s, walking in the footsteps of Jesus in the Galilee and in Jerusalem, and worshipping in Bethlehem before that awful wall scarred the holy birthplace of our Lord.

I have touched the rock where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac (the Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, now off limits to non-Muslims). I have prayed on Mount Nebo, where Moses looked over the Jordan, saw the promised land, but died before he could reach it.

The experiences of these pilgrimages to these ancient sacred sites formed a deeper appreciation and understanding of my faith. Pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place – an inward journey, or a visit to ancient physical sites, or a surprising encounter with Jesus in a school, a hospital, or a rehabilitation center. Jesus is alive in the land of the Holy One through

the humanitarian ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

In October, board members of AFEDJ (the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem) visited schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers in Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

In the face of countless obstacles, Christian leaders of these institutions model the love of Christ in all that they are and all that they do to serve the disadvantaged and vulnerable of their society, Christians and Muslims.

We visited the inclusive Arab Episcopal School in Irbid, Jordan where blind students and teachers work with sighted students and teachers.

At the Princess Basma Center in Jerusalem, we witnessed mothers learning to care for their child with special needs. We met Mira, a young woman with cerebral palsy who had learned to walk with a walker at the Center. Mira convinced school authorities that her physical disability would not impede her ability to learn. She plans to be an attorney to advocate for children with disabilities.

At the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt, Jordan, I found new meaning for the understanding of mission as the “touch.” For deaf-blind students, literal touch is crucial for communication. I watched a teacher gently touch a deaf- blind boy; he responded by touching her. Like Helen Keller at the well, touch begins true communication and understanding. I was reminded that this is the healing touch of Jesus.

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem bears witness to the love and healing power of Jesus. Though part of a dwindling minority of Christians in the Holy Land, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, under the leadership of Archbishop Hosam Naoum, is building bridges of hope and understanding among all of the Abrahamic faiths. We saw hope in the Holy Land, a glimpse of God’s perfect shalom. As you plan your next pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I invite you to consider visits to the amazing ministries of the Diocese. Also, you will soon have access to Bearing Witness, videos and study guides for parishes and dioceses to enlighten and inspire you.

The Rev. Judy Quick, a deacon in the Diocese of Alabama, is a trustee of AFEDJ. She served on the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission for World Mission and is a past vice president of the Global Episcopal Mission Network. This post was originally published in the Fall 2022 edition of The Alabama Episcopalian.