Sabeel, Arabic for “the way” and also “a channel” or “spring” of life-giving water, is an ecumenical grassroots center for liberation theology among Palestinian Christians, that seeks to promote peace with justice in the Middle East. The Sabeel center is in Jerusalem. It was founded following an international conference in March 1990, which placed Palestinian liberation theology in relationship to other liberation theologies from around the world. (See Faith & the Intifada, edited by N. Ateek. M. Ellis, and R. Ruether, 1992).
With an ecumenical steering committee of clergy and lay theologians, the two main aims of Sabeel are to search for ways to strengthen the faith of Palestinian Christians in Palestine and Israel and to share the life and witness of the Christian community with visitors from abroad.
The programs at Sabeel encourage adults and youth to “do” theology in their daily lives as they search for what God is saying to them. Examples of the programs and projects are listed below. In 2000, Sabeel published a document, “Principles for a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel”, which offers a detailed summary of the work of Sabeel in this regard.
Sabeel strives to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence, and witness of Palestinian Christians as well as their contemporary concerns. It encourages individuals and groups from around the world to work for a just, comprehensive, and enduring peace informed by truth and empowered by prayer and action.
Seeking to support the peace and justice ministry of Sabeel, geographical groupings of Friends of Sabeel are being organized worldwide. Friends of Sabeel North America, including the chapter in Canada, aims to support the ecumenical ministry of Sabeel through prayerful actions and financial resources, education of North Americans about the faithful witness of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, and advocacy for a just resolution in the region.
Sabeel’s liberation theology seeks to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, to lead them to act for justice and love, to work for the unity and renewal of the church, and to transform society. Sabeel is committed to a prophetic ministry in solidarity with the oppressed. It strives to develop a spirituality based on justice, peace, non-violence, liberation, and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities.
Without a theology that is biblically based and relevant to people’s daily realities, it is difficult to maintain faith and hope. Indeed, Palestinian Christians have plenty of political analysis but a shortage of theological anchoring. Yet, with organized opportunities for, and training in theological reflection, they become empowered by the spirit of God and are filled with new vision. Agonizing over issues of justice and peace has become a theological necessity, as well as a political one.
For more information, please visit Sabeel’s website: www.sabeel.org