Pillay preached at the Ascension Church on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.


On 18 February, Pillay preached at the Ascension Church on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. The sermon, based on the lectionary reading from Matthew 4:1-11, focused on the devils tempting of Jesus in the wilderness. 

Pillay pointed out that we all struggle at times with understanding and doing Gods will, and related this to the struggle in the Palestine context, especially now in the context of the war in Gaza. 

He called on people of faith to surrender like Jesus to the will of the Father and to be assured, even in the context of violence and uncertainty, that they can have security in Christ. 

He ended the sermon by asking, And why is it that we can trust our security in Christ?” In answering this question, he reflected on Roman 8:31, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” said Pillay. We can put our hope and trust in God for a better future and a better world with peace and security for all.”

He was hosted by Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. 

We are here on a special mission,” said Pillay. We have come to express our solidarity in whats happening in Israel and Palestine. Part of our task as Christians is to pray for peace and to work for peace.”

Pillay described the task of the WCC as working with people in the local context, and trying to journey with them in their experiences—in essence a Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity.  

Bishop Azar gifted the WCC general secretary a Lutheran cross as a sign of accompaniment. The church also hosted a breakfast for Pillay and the WCC delegation. 

As head of the delegation, the WCC general secretary is being accompanied by Dr Audeh Quawas (WCC central committee member), Marianne Ejdersten (WCC director of Communication) and Yusef Daher (coordinator, WCC Jerusalem Liaison Office).

In the afternoon, the delegation also met with Sheikh Azzam Khatib, director of Islamic Waqf, Jewish representatives, the human rights organization Btselem, and the Israeli human rights organization Rabbis for Human Rights.

In Holy Land, “light and life have a true and enduring existence” as heads of churches gather with WCC (WCC news release, 18 February 2024)

"WCC general secretary visits Holy Land to strengthen call for just peace" (WCC news release, 15 February 2024)

Ascension Church at Augusta Victoria in Jerusalem

Ascension Church at Augusta Victoria in Jerusalem. From left to right: Rev. Meghan Aelabouni (ELCA), Rev Dr. Ibrahim Azar (ELCJHL), Rev Dr. Jerry Pillay (General Secretary, WCC), Rev. Gabi Aelabouni (ELCA), Rev. Fursan Zu'mot (ELCJHL).