Objectives of the Olive Oil Ministry
The objectives of the Olive Oil Ministry are to support the Palestinian people in their search for justice, for economic prosperity and defense of their rights, to help bring about a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and to raise awareness about the realities on the ground in the Holy Land.
Last year, together, our 18 churches sold more than one ton of Palestinian olive oil and olive products, valued at more than $43,000. The Cedar Lane Congregation was instrumental in this amazing achievement. About one-third of that money stayed in the Palestinian agricultural sector when we bought these products from Canaan Fair Trade in the West Bank. Canaan Fair Trade purchases the olives or olive oil from the farmers at an internationally certified “Fair Trade” price and sells Palestinian products to high-end world markets. It also has a suite of programs to upgrade agricultural practices and community welfare among those co-ops and their villages.
Another 40% of last year’s sales – $17,000 – was donated to Tent of Nations.
Why We Donate Funds to Tent of Nations
We donate our net earnings to Tent of Nations to support an organic farm and peace project near Bethlehem, owned by the Palestinian Christian Nassar family. This year the family is celebrating their 100th anniversary of ownership of the farm.
We believe that it is vital to support the Nassar family’s ownership of their farm for several reasons.
First, the family seeks to build peace with neighboring Muslim and Jewish communities and through international outreach. Their guiding principle is, “We Refuse to be Enemies”.
Second, their legal ownership of the farm is well-documented and has been confirmed since 1916 by Ottoman, British and Jordanian authorities, but not, so far, by the Israelis. Rather, there have been numerous and continuing efforts and harassment by the Israeli government and settlers to force them from the farm since 1991.
Third, they defend the 100-year ownership of their land by adhering strictly to non-violent principles and actions. We support the burden of their struggle.
Fourth, international support from many organizations and individuals, including the 18 Olive Oil Ministry churches, helps keep the Nassars from feeling alone in their struggle for justice and helps maintain the presence of a Christian Palestinian family on land in the West Bank, preserving the farm as a symbol of Palestinian independence and culture.
Finally, Tent of Nations reports annually to us on their worthwhile utilization of our annual donations, for example: planting or replanting trees, support for the Women’s Education Center in the nearby village of Nahalin, or its summer international and national Youth Camps. This year’s donation will be used for tree planting and care of their fruit orchards and olive groves. Cultivation of the land is an essential element in keeping the Israeli courts from declaring the farmland as State Land and confiscating it for settlement expansion.
*List of Participating OOM Congregations:
Annapolis Friends Meeting, Bethesda Friends Meeting, Bradley Hills Presbyterian, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, First Presbyterian Church (Arlington, VA), Frederick Friends Meeting, Friends Meeting of Washington, Georgetown Presbyterian Church, Grace Presbyterian Church (Springfield, VA),Little River UCC (Annandale, VA), Sandy Springs Friends Meeting, St. Albans Episcopal Church, St. Camillus Catholic Church, St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church, Trinity Episcopal Church (Washington, VA) and Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ. We are grateful for the dedication and support of the members of these 18 congregations throughout our region. If you have any questions and/or would like to join the Olive Oil Ministry and support its efforts in the VA/MD/DC area or set up your own OOM in your local area, please contact Robert at: Robert Mertz –firstname.lastname@example.org. He can tell you all about