Learn More about Sumud


We are church for the sake of the world. Sumud is the ELCA Churches response to occupation and injustice in Palestine and Israel.

In Jesus Christ all of life — every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life — flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.

Freed by the transformative life of Christ, the ELCA is committed to accompaniment, advocacy and awareness-raising with our partners in the Holy Land and in the United States. For the past two decades that work was organized through the ELCA Peace Not Walls campaign. In October 2023 the ELCA announced that, following an in-depth review by ELCA staff and leadership from the Palestinian Lutheran church, Peace Not Walls would be renamed and reconfigured as a new initiative, Sumud: For Justice in Palestine and Israel.

Sumud is an Arabic word meaning “steadfastness.” The term is widely used by Palestinian theologians and others to signify Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and people. That resistance takes the form of nonviolent advocacy for political change as well as “resistance through existence,” embodied in education, social work, the arts and one’s relationships with the land and community.

Our new name recommits the ELCA to advocacy and awareness-raising grounded in accompaniment of the Palestinian people who are our primary partners in the region, and especially Palestinian Christians, an Indigenous minority community whose ministries of education, health care, social service, justice work, and intellectual and cultural leadership are integral to Palestinian society. Sumud follows the guidance of our Palestinian church partners in updating its name to reflect the truth of the situation on the ground: that only when justice prevails in the Holy Land — when the occupation ends and human rights are restored to Palestinians — can there be a true and lasting peace for all Palestinians and Israelis.

Sumud connects ELCA members to our companions in the Holy Land and seeks to follow the guidance, support the leadership and amplify the voices of our Palestinian partners. Together with our Lutheran companions, we accompany Palestinians and Israelis, and many other Jews, Christians and Muslims, in working to establish the justice required for peace.

How we work

Accompaniment: Our church’s primary companion church in the Holy Land is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). This Arabic-speaking community of faithful Lutherans is the primary relationship through which the ELCA sees the situation in Palestine and Israel. Both our churches belong to the Lutheran World Federation(LWF), a global communion whose vital Jerusalem-area program has pursued projects related to health, education and humanitarian aid in the occupied Palestinian territories for over 65 years.

The ELCA, the ELCJHL and the LWF share a long history of nurturing relationships among Jewish and Muslim communities in the Holy Land. The ELCJHL was instrumental in creating the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, whose faith leaders encourage and advocate for the moderate voices for justice and peace among their own people. The Rev. Mark Hanson, former presiding bishop of the ELCA, was a founding member of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, a group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders who work toward a common vision of a just peace in the Middle East. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton continues to be involved with the initiative. The ELCA has long and deep relationships with Jewish and Muslim communities that foster mutual understanding and that challenge all to embrace justice, peace and nonviolence.

Advocacy: We invite you to join our efforts to advocate for a negotiated resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to ongoing acts of violence. You can do this by calling for:

  • Equal human rights and human dignity for all people in the Holy Land.
  • An end to Israeli settlement building and the occupation of Palestinian land, both of which violate international laws.
  • A viable political solution for sharing of the land.
  • Individuals to build the Palestinian economy by investing in its products and, through selective purchasing, to avoid products made in Israeli settlements that are illegally built on Palestinian land.
  • An examination of U.S. military aid to Israel to ensure compliance with U.S. and international human rights law, and a possible withholding of aid for failing to comply with those laws.

Awareness-raising: Are you interested in learning more, sharing your experiences with others or traveling to the Holy Land? Sumud will share information about upcoming trips to the Holy Land, connect you with neighbors concerned about the future of Palestine and Israel, and provide you with resources (worship materials, maps, historical background, trip planning ideas, church policy, etc.).

Through Sumud, the ELCA supports a viable, contiguous Palestinian state; a secure Israeli state at peace with its Arab neighbors; and a shared Jerusalem with equal access and rights for Jews, Muslims and Christians. To achieve this justice, we need your support!

Join us in this call to walk alongside our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land by raising awareness and advocating in your hometown, congregation, school or synod.

To find other ways to get involved, click here.

For more information about Sumud (formerly Peace Not Walls) please contact us at sumud@elca.org.

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