A speech offered at the First Presbyterian Church of Hartford on the occasion of a demonstration against the massacre in Gaza
July 31, 2014
A few weeks ago I saw a production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, and the last lines of that great tragedy come to me as I think about the carnage, indeed the massacre taking in Gaza. “The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”
Over 50 young Israeli soldiers killed in this insanity. For me, these are not just nameless, faceless soldiers, for I have been there – 12 times in the last 12 years — and I have seen their faces; I have seen them at checkpoints and I have seen them in the streets of Hebron, and I have seen them in cafés, so full life and laughter, and yes, I have seen their arrogance as well; I have seen the terrible things done to the human spirit when you put a gun in someone else’s hands.
I am very pleased to announce that Erinn Staley has accepted the unanimous invitation from our Tree of Life Board of Directors to become our Tree of Life Minister/Executive Director. This is great news, and I very much look forward to sharing this ministry with Erinn and our legion of volunteers! In this part-time position, I am very confident that Erinn will help us to honor how the prophet Habakkuk said, “Write your vision; make it clear on the tablets, so that a runner may read it.” In our collective “race” against inhumanity and injustice, we must do all that we can to articulate the vision of our Tree of Life ministry, so that all of us “runners” can be reminded of what this is all about.
Also, I know that Erinn will help us to remember the words of Thoreau, “You have built your castle in the sky, that is where it should be; now build the foundation underneath.” Our Tree of Life ministry has enjoyed remarkable growth, and now, as we try to make it sustainable — for the long run (to continue that metaphor) — we need do what we can to build the foundation for this ministry, and I know in this regard Erinn will bring considerable wisdom, energy and experience.
Below you will also see a description for our next Tree of Life Journey – an Olive Harvest – which will be led by Erinn and Nancy Boldt McLaren. Thank you Nancy and Erinn!
Please join me in welcoming Erinn to our Tree of Life Educational Fund!
David W. Good
Chairperson for The Tree of Life Educational Fund
I look forward to meeting you and learning about your hopes and visions for Tree of Life Educational Fund. Tremendous volunteer effort has built and grown this organization, and I am honored to join your work. Together, we will continue building a network for amplifying voices of conscience and supporting efforts for justice and peace.
Tree of Life Minister/Executive Director
Erinn Staley is an experienced theological educator and writer, and her work long has focused on promoting the well-being of marginalized people. She has worked in non-profit, church, and educational settings and on justice issues including hunger relief and early childhood education. She received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University and her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School.
Click below to learn about the Olive Harvest Journey…
These words from the song, “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel come to mind as one walks alongside the 28-foot concrete wall that imprisons Palestinians, separating them not only from Israelis but also from their olive orchards, places of employment, water resources and other Palestinian communities. This wall is the location for some most remarkable works of art, including the prophetic work of the anonymous British artist who goes by the pseudonym, “Banksy.” Read more »
By The Rev. David W. Good
Chairman of the Tree of Life Educational Fund
Tree of Life Educational Fund has it’s own 501c3 non-profit status, but as a part of the ministry of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, it benefits enormously from the moral, spiritual and financial support of the church out of which this ministry was born, and so now that our 2013 TOL series has been completed, I want to say how grateful I am for the church’s ongoing support of this ministry that this year was able to bring our Tree of Life programs, conferences and concerts to Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Oregon and Washington DC with 22 events from September to November 2013.
New book, new authors…including David Good
Seven more concerned Christians have added their voices to the growing chorus of support for justice in Palestine. The book Zionism through Christian Lenses: Ecumenical Perspectives on the Promised Land (edited by Burnett, published by Wipf and Stock) features representatives of various Christian denominations and walks of life who ponder the plight of Palestine and Israel from various angles: Read more »
In January 2013 the Honoraria Fund provided nine scholarships for students from Beit Sahour to go to Bethlehem University. This is an annual part of our Tree of Life ministry. We are grateful to both the Mission Board of the Old Lyme Congregational Church and to individuals who have made generous contributions to the Tree of Life Honoraria Fund. Without this generosity, these scholarships would not be possible!
Consider a contribution to our Tree of Life Honoraria Fund, a fund that we use to support those organizations in the occupied territories and Israel that are working toward a just and peaceful future for us all. We like to think of these organizations as “parables of hope” and in our annual Tree of Life journeys we’ve had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the excellent work that they do. Read more »
The Educational Mission of the Tree of Life Educational Fund
Closing remarks by David W. Good | Old Lyme Tree of Life Conference – November 4, 2012
Last year marked the 10th anniversary of this church’s engagement on this issue, a journey that began shortly after the tragedy of 9/11.
After that fateful Tuesday morning one of our church’s governing boards met, and we asked ourselves how we should respond, and one of things we resolved was that we needed to redouble our efforts to strengthen our interfaith community, to be not only in ecumenical relationship with other Christian traditions and denominations, but also we felt we needed to deepen our relationship with those of other faith identities. Little did we know then that one really cannot have an authentic – an authentic conversation — with our Jewish, Muslim and Christian neighbors without ultimately coming to the tough and oftentimes painful issue of Israel and Palestine. Read more »
This is the statement offered by Tamer H. N. Alshouri of Beit Sahour in the Occupied Territory of Palestine. Tamer is one of our Bridges of Hope musicians who has performed at Tree of Life Conferences since 2011.
The aim of the occupier, generally, is to confiscate the land, the natural resources and to abolish the language and culture of the occupied people. Coming from one of the longest occupations in the history, I’ve seen that culture is the only means to keep people together and to resist the occupier with non-violent means. This is our form of resistance—choosing to hold onto our culture through art, food, history, literature and music.
Today we are gathered here, and we thank you for welcoming us to share our culture through our music. Read more »
After the tragedy of September 11, 2001 our church’s Board of Deacons met, and we asked ourselves how we should respond. One of the things we resolved was that we needed to redouble our efforts to strengthen our interfaith community. Little did we know then that discussions with our Jewish and Muslim neighbors would lead us right into the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, taking us on nine annual “Tree of Life Journeys”to Israel and the occupied territories in which over 200 have participated. These journeys, in turn, have led to five annual interfaith conferences in which we have tried to amplify the voices of conscience of Israelis and Palestinians— Jews, Christians and Muslims— who have been working for a just and peaceful resolution to what they often refer to as “the American-Israeli occupation.
Reverend David W. Good of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme in Connecticut shares the church’s experiences in the June/July 2011 issue of “The Link,” a newsletter published by Americans for Middle East Understanding, Inc. Click here to read the complete article: TheLink_vol44_issue3_2011