In early June 2015, I had the privilege of leading a pilgrimage to Palestine-Israel for 19 members of our First Presbyterian Church of Boulder. The focus of our trip was not only to see the “ancient stones” of the historic sites, but to have fellowship with what the Bible calls the “living stones”–the indigenous Palestinian Christians. Ours was a journey of friendship, education, and encouragement. We listened, we learned, we were stretched, we sought peace, we prayed, we were transformed. In particular, we spent the better part of a day in Nablus, in the Northern West Bank. We felt completely safe; we were warmly received and -hosted; we walked the Old City and met the citizens. Though they endure significant hardship in many forms, the residents of Nablus impressed us as a joyful, welcoming people.
I’ve now led four trips to Israel-Palestine. The two most recent ones have had this focus on peacemaking, bridge-building, and extending friendship. I am eager to have our city reach out and establish a sister city partnership with Nablus. This connection can be mutually enriching; it can deepen our appreciation for this ancient culture; it can work to correct hurtful stereotypes on all sides; and it can be used for peace. Never before has this been more necessary. I urge you to formalize this positive and productive relationship!
With best wishes from your neighbor, Carl
— Dr. Carl S. Hofmann
Pastor for Congregational Care First Presbyterian Church, Boulder