Local Jerusalem Orthodox, Lutheran, Armenian, Coptic, Protestant and Roman Catholic prelates, pastors and members of religious orders processed into the cathedral accompanied by a Palestinian Youth Marching Band, amid clouds of incense and smiling faces. Clergy and lay leaders of the diocese processed with Anglican and Ecumenical guests from around the world. Bishop Michael Langrish of Exeter represented the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Bishop Mark Sisk of New York represented Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Bishop Gayle Harris of Massachusetts was also present as both the diocese and the Cowley Fathers, the religious order of St. John the Evangelist, have close ties with Jerusalem's Anglican church.
Muslim and Jewish leaders and clerics, as well as civic representatives were also in attendance.
As Dawani entered the Cathedral with the assisting clergy, the congregation sang the Byzantine Easter hymn "Almaseeh kam" -- Christ is risen -- with great intensity, as the bishop reached the great crossing and knelt in private prayer before being vested in his episcopal order. The ceremony was presided over by the retiring Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Rev. Clive Handford. The newly elected Primate, the Most Rev. Hanna Anis Mouneer, who will be installed later this week in Cairo, was also present.
The more-than-two-hour liturgy marked Dawani's actual enthronement, his installation, and the receiving of gifts from laity, clergy and guests, symbols of his new role in the diocese. A gospel book, bread and wine for the Eucharist, Water for baptism, oil for healing, incense, a candle, an olive branch of peace and goodwill, and roses in honor of the Virgin Mary. The vestments were given by the Diocese of Los Angeles with Bishop Jon Bruno placing the miter on Dawani during the rite. This L.A. diocese has strong ties with the Palestinian Christian community, supporting work in some of the most hard hit areas as a result of the current crisis.
Among those participating in the liturgy were Dr. Stephen Need, dean of St George's College; Canon John Peterson of Washington National Cathedral; Jerusalem's two previous Bishops, Samir Kafity and Riah Abu El-Assal; and event organiser Canon Samir Habiby.
Fr. Alan Moses of All Saints Margaret Street in London, England, represented the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG), and the English Bishops of Southhampton, Tonbridge, and Warwick were present. The Lutheran World Federation, Lambeth Palace, Australia/New Zealand St George's College Group, the Anglican Communion Office, the Church Army and the "mother" mission society, Church Mission Society (CMS), were all well represented.
The well-constructed liturgy was duly orchestrated by the acting Cathedral dean, Canon Hosam Naoum, and the Rev. Samuel Barhoum of Holy Family Episcopal Church in Raineh.
In his sermon, given in Arabic and summarized in English, Dawani called for a strong Christian proclamation in the days ahead in the Holy Land. He made repeated references for dialogue with "sister faiths" and recognized the "mutual sufferings" of Muslims, Jews and Christians, and called for Israel and Palestine to "accept each other and forgive." He said Jesus Christ's call is "a mission of reconciliation with justice and peace with human dignity" for all. "We need bridges of peace, not walls of separation," he said, acknowledging the current situation as a "critical time" for all. His call and vision is for the presence of "Jesus Christ to increase" in the diocese.
A rite of sprinkling followed the renewal of baptismal vows and the liturgy continued with a Solemn Eucharist, with clergy administering Holy Communion in the courtyard to the overflow congregation. During communion, a children's choir from Ramallah sang repeatedly: "We shall live in peace, we shall overcome, we'll walk hand in hand," at which point the hundreds present joined in the singing, as many shed tears of sorrow, hope and joy. As one parishioner said, "It was a moment of great release."
Also present were St. George's College course members from All Saints Church in Beverly Hills, United States, and the Great St. Mary's Church in Cambridge, England.
Earlier that day the cathedral was also full for the regular Sunday Eucharist, attended by scores of pilgrims and local Christians. Bruno preached a powerful sermon on the resurrection calling on the congregation to be in "solidarity" with the plight of the Palestinians and expressing his concern for the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land.
The Diocese of Jerusalem, although small in numbers, maintains more than 30 institutions of education and care for the people of Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
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