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Changing lives, building understanding: Nakba Museum Project

On Trinity Sunday (May 22, 2016) – the first Sunday after Pentecost – United Methodists focus on peace with justice: responding to God's call for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world.

The Peace with Justice observance includes receiving a special offering. Half of the gifts support mission projects in the annual conference where the congregation is located and half support projects around the world.

Peace with Justice offerings in 2015 provided $41,400 for grants to 15 ministries selected by the Board of Church and Society. Nakba Museum Project of Memory & Hope in University Park, Maryland was among the recipients.

Bshara Nassar. Courtesy Photo

"When I came to Washington D.C. in 2011, I was amazed at all the monuments and museums and how proudly Americans tell their story through them," says Bshara Nassar, founder and executive director of the Nakba Museum Project. "Even other nations' stories are honored here. But I felt lost because I never found a museum that told my story; so I decided to create one."

The Nakba Museum Project was formed provide "a safe environment" to share the stories of Palestinians through art, storytelling and performance. "My voice was silenced in Palestine but I have reclaimed it in the United States," Nassar says.

"Nakaba ("catastrophe" in Arabic) refers to the more than 700,000 Palestinians who lost their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and represents a dark period in the Palestinian existence," he says. "However, the Nakba is not just a singular event in the past; it is an ongoing reality for Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation. … Israel's Nakba Law, passed in 2011, has further silenced these deeply personal and human stories by making it illegal for public organizations to raise awareness about the Nakba."

The project is the first step toward developing a museum in Washington, D.C. to deepen the conversations on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Nassar says. By empowering Palestinians to tell their story in the United State, he believes, "we create a more objective discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that Palestinians can regain their civil and human rights."

A scholarship from the General Board of Global Ministries allowed Nassar to earn a master's degree in conflict transformation at Eastern Mennonite University.

Heather Peck Travis, freelance journalist living in Glasgow, Kentucky

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Peace with Justice Sunday enables The United Methodist Church to have a voice in advocating for peace and justice through a broad spectrum of global programs. The special offering benefits peace with justice ministries in the annual conference and through the General Board of Church and Society.

When you give generously on Peace with Justice Sunday, you give The United Methodist Church a voice in advocating for global peace and justice. Give now.

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