26 September 2005

Former Methodist Vice President off to West Bank

Jan Sutch Pickard, a former Vice President of the Methodist Conference, has arrived in Palestine to begin three months of work there. Jan is part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), and will return to the UK just a couple of days before Christmas.

As an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA), Jan will be 'a non-violent witness and an active presence for peace.' She will be based in the small town of Jayyous in the West Bank, working with local people as a supporter, advocate and friend.

Jan was Vice President of the Methodist Conference in 1996-7, and has been a long-time supporter of the Iona Community, first working there as a volunteer cook in 1967. From 1999- 2004 she was on the staff of the Iona Community, latterly as Warden of the Abbey. She has also written several books (including Gatherings, Dandelions and Thistles and Advent Readings from Iona) and has been a teacher, local preacher and mission partner.

'This is a huge privilege and a scary prospect too,' she says. 'The work will take different forms, and situations can change very quickly in that part of the world. But it will be exciting to be actively working for peace and living in God's way alongside people who have suffered at the hands of others to 'accompany' them. And I will be there for Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, All Saints and All Souls, Eid-ul-Fitr and Advent: what an amazing privilege!'

During 2006 Jan will spend several weeks visiting churches around Britain to share her experiences and information about the programme with others. During her time in Palestine she will file regular updates on her activities to the EAPPI website.

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