Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Record number of churches to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day
European Coalition for Israel reports:
A record number of local churches in Europe are expected to commemorate the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday 27 January 2008. The Remembrance Day, which was initiated by the European Parliament already in 2000 and supported by a declaration of the United Nations in 2005, was first introduced to church communities in Europe a year ago by the European Coalition for Israel. The Coalition brings together organizations and churches which seek to foster better relations between Europe and Israel, commemorate the Holocaust and inform about new forms of anti-Semitism.
At the main event in Brussels last year European Commissioner for Culture and Youth Jan Figel spoke about the need for the younger generations in Europe to learn about the Holocaust. This year European Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering is scheduled to speak at the event in Brussels where parliamentarians, diplomats and church leaders will attend. But apart from the high profile event in Brussels the organizers hope to inspire over 1000 local churches to commemorate the Holocaust day in their Sunday service on January 27. European director Jeff Fountain of Youth with a Mission explains:
"The Holocaust was a defining phase in Europe's modern history, and its commemoration remains a crucial reminder of what can happen in Europe when we stray from our Judeo-Christian foundations."
Already last year a few hundred churches participated in the campaign despite short notice. This year the organizers will ask each church to also register....“Many churches have asked for a concrete program for the Holocaust event and we will provide them with one”, says Tomas Sandell who is the main coordinator of the campaign and the founding director of European Coalition for Israel.
One of the main objectives of the campaign is to learn what the consequences are when Christians fail to speak up against the evil of our time. One particular issue which is raised in the campaign material is the need for Christians to react differently today when the Jewish nation is threatened with annihilation. The organizers hope that the campaign will teach and inspire Christians in Europe to speak up against any form of evil or genocide.
"The atrocities of the Nazis started with the Jews but it did not stop there. The same pattern can be seen today with those forces who once again wish to eliminate the Jewish people", says Sandell.
The campaign is non-political and includes churches and citizen groups from a variety of backgrounds. Many of the churches which took active part in last years campaign were of immigrant Arab origin. More information on the campaign and a registration form can be found on the website www.learnfromhistory.eu