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Greater love hath no man...

“Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. (Gospel of John 15:13).

There is little doubt in the violent circumstances that 15 year-old Aitzaz Hassan lived, that Aitzaz didn’t understand the imminent risk to his own life of intercepting the path of a suicide bomber who was intent on entering Aitzaz’s school where over 2,000 fellow students were studying, unaware of the danger.

His friends tell that upon the sight of the bomber Aitzaz had the opportunity to flee with them and perhaps escape but instead chose to tackle and subdue the suicide bomber preventing him from entering the school.

Aitzaz was killed as a result of the bomber who detonated himself.

At 15 years, Aitzaz didn’t have a significant amount of life experience to curate his enormous strength of courage and noble values. Yet his actions appeared with such determination as if having possessed a longer lifetime of preparation. A determination dispossessed or in defiance of the prevailing self-interest that is so familiar and dominant in world today.

Aitzaz, in just the brief final seconds of his life, bequeathed this world a more penetrating lesson on courage, strength and nobility than has been written in the thousands of pages on the subject over the last five hundred years.

In this life lesson that Aitzaz Hassan has left us, we must be witness to and understand this purest expression of courage, love, and faith.

From here, it is our duty and desire to learn from and honor Aitzaz and ensure that this story about noble character, through his sacrifice, echoes around the world and across all boundaries of country, culture and faith. “

Read the article

Evangelical Lutheran Church inaugurated at Baptism Site

6 January 2014
The Jordan Times

AMMAN — Deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah, HRH Prince Raad, the Chief Chamberlain, attended the inauguration ceremony of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at the Baptism Site in the Jordan Valley on Monday. Read the full article

Jordan to remain model of interfaith tolerance

5 January 2014

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday underlined Jordan’s commitment to remain a model of tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians and continue to encourage dialogue and understanding among them to serve global stability and peace.

The King made his remarks at a meeting with leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, who are on a visit to Jordan to inaugurate the Lutheran Church at the Baptism Site on Monday under Royal patronage, a Royal Court statement said. Read more...

Update from Canon White in Jerusalem

2 January 2014

The time from Christmas to New Year has not been easy. Coming back to England for Christmas I do not find easy and not just when there is no electricity and heating like this year. I have increasing problems with the Christianisation of a pagan festival to create what in reality has become another pagan festival. Anyway here I am in a part of the world where the birthday of our Lord is celebrated in a very different way and here in Israel we are just preparing to celebrate the Eastern Rite Christmas on the 6th January. Read more...

Philippine Preceptory in Action

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Ever since the Order took water as a priority concern as an issue in the International community of nations, the Philippine Preceptory has been considering the construction of deep wells in the Island of Palawan in the Philippines. Our brother Chev. Capt. Rodrigo Mejia has been recently designated as a commander of the Naval Forces Reserve-West, based in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) placed the Philippines under a state of calamity specially in the Provinces of Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Masbate, Iloilo, (Central Philippines). With around 6,000 dead and/or missing, property and infrastructure damage financially challenged the nation.

Immediate need has been rescue and relief for temporary shelter, food, water, medicines, hospitals, transportation, power and communications.

We at the Preceptory though small in numbers thought of embarking on water and power missions.

With water missions, the Preceptory through the support of the International Order will procure a mobile water purification system. The design should be so portable that it can reach even the most remote communities that needs water hand carried by volunteers. It is akin to SEAL Teams concept of quick insertion and extraction.

This equipment will be owned and retained by the Order. But the same will be available for use by humanitarian missions of the various units of the Philippine Navy Reserve and other partnering NGOs.

The concept of operations will be as follows:

1. Identification of the target area. 2. Planning and executing process for the movement of equipment and people. 3. At the site, assemble the equipment and fill out water bladders with thousand liter capacities, then move on to another locality to provide the same service. 4. Missions such as the above are recommended to last between 5 days to 15 days before the troops returns to unit.

Plans for the solar power effort are still being developed.

Stay tuned for more information as it develops. Update: see the donation request from OSMTH Grand Commander.

Donations can be made via PayPal by contacting Chancellor General of OSMTH or using these PayPal Instructions.

Hope Amidst the Darkness in Syria

Last month, ICRD (International Center for Religion and Diplomacy) conducted back-to-back, faith-based reconciliation workshops in Midyat, Turkey for Kurdish, Syriac Christian, and Arab tribal leaders from the Al-Hassake region of Eastern Syria. Read the full report.

28 August, 2013
Dear Dr. Johnston,

Thank you for this important Templar Up-Date. We Templar’s have noted with prayers and support the success of Canon Cox and the ICRD in his vital work in Syria and share with you our overwhelming concern for our Coptic sisters and brothers. Last week after thought and prayer and with the approval of our Grand Commander, MG Robert Disney, and Grand Commander-elect, Colonel Dr. Marcel DePicciotto, a successful meeting was held in Chicago under the Chairmanship of our Grand Chaplain General, HG Bishop Younan and guidance of HB Metropolitan THEODOSIUS. The purpose for this meeting was to decide how better OSMTH-I can address the exact issues you discuss in this Report.

We appointed an assistant to the GM to focus on “Christians at Immediate Risk”. He will work directly with the Christians in the Countries concerned, coordinate with and through all of our Christian churches that are addressing this problem, seek UN action as possible through our UN delegations, broaden and deepen our cooperation with other NGO’s involved, and prepare on-site reports to spot light the crisis thus hoping that governments will respond to these issues. Of course, we will try to be of assistance to Canon Cox as requested and the ICRD.

Patrick E. Rea
Brigadier General - AUS Ret.
Grand Master III
OSMTH-I

Losing Your Religion? Analytic Thinking Weakens Religious Belief

Losing Your Religion? Analytic Thinking Weakens Religious Belief
Alexandra Sifferlin April 27, 2012

Most of the world’s population believes in God, or gods, but alongside them there are also hundreds of millions of nonbelievers. What makes one a believer or not? Read more...

Under siege but vicar of Baghdad is still spreading the word

Under siege but vicar of Baghdad is still spreading the word
Robert Fisk - The Independent - 7 April 2012

Andrew White got his blue Iraqi badge on Wednesday – the pass that allows him to move around Baghdad. Read more...

How do we impress and engage the greater Church

Grand Master BG (Ret) Patrick E. Rea's excerpted comments from 12 Feb 2012 email which provides an update to the topic:

Allow me to encourage our members to review many of my reports to the GMC over the past 6+ years with emphasis on my rather lengthy presentation at our last international meeting which is included as an appendix to the minutes. Our GSG did an excellent job of trying to capture my report. In that Report it was noted that among the three Legs of OSMTH-I is our senior clergy and that leg is alive and well and I reported on their support and cooperation. In one of those meetings I pointed out that we met at length with the immediate Past President of the World Council of Churches and he stated it is time that you (OSMTH-I) formally reach out to the WCC in Geneva. Following discussions with Bishop Younan, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS and Gen. Robert Disney we are beginning to more formally open a relationship with the WCC utilizing our talented but limited resources. To that end our plan is to put together a Geneva Team.

That Team, as has been in place for the past two years, we have Marcel as our senior (Chief of Mission) to the UN—he has been reappointed by the GC; the Rev. Dr. Jean Ford as Asst. GSG for the International Peace Bureau (IPB)—she has been appointed by the GC and has met with Colin Archer the Secretary General of the IPB in Geneva and both Gen. Disney and I have exchanged E-Mails, with Colin over the past week. Professor Ford is also an active delegate with Marcel on the UN Mission in Geneva. Next the Rev. Dr. Schmeling remains an active member of the UN delegation to Geneva, has established coordination with the Headquarters of the World Lutheran Federation on our behalf in that City and he with Dr. Ford will reach out to the WCC to more formally establish our relationship—which will be defined by the WCC.

All of the above activities regarding an OSMTH-I Team in Geneva working with the UN, CoNGO, WCC, IPB, WLF and other likeminded NGOs was reviewed about 18 hours ago on Sunday in New York with Cyril Ritchie, the President of CoNGO. Randy Tietz and I had flown to New York to met with Cyril (Report to follow) at his request and Gen Disney spoke with Cyril by phone. For almost three hours our OSMTH-I group of myself, Randy, Chev. Robert Bateman-Chief of UN Mission in NY and Chev. Price our CoNGO Coordinator in NY discussed in detail the full range of issues including a OSMTH-I Team in Geneva. He offered his help and comment and then boarded a plane to return to Geneva after that very productive meeting. He knows that I plan to try and visit Geneva this year to visit the senior leadership of the WCC and host some private events with the IPB, CoNGO, UN and our own UN delegation. I would add that on the religious side, GP Portugal has arranged a meeting between myself and the Catholic Patriarch of Portugal maybe in May in Lisbon.

The Catholic church will not let up in her fight...

October 27, 2011. (Romereports.com) (-VIDEO-)

Full text of Pope's speech in Assisi: "The Catholic church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world".

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Distinguished Heads and Representatives of Churches, Ecclesial Communities and World Religions, Dear Friends,

Twenty-five years have passed since Blessed Pope John Paul II first invited representatives of the world’s religions to Assisi to pray for peace. What has happened in the meantime? What is the state of play with regard to peace today? At that time the great threat to world peace came from the division of the earth into two mutually opposed blocs. A conspicuous symbol of this division was the Berlin Wall which traced the border between two worlds right through the heart of the city. In 1989, three years after Assisi, the wall came down, without bloodshed. Suddenly the vast arsenals that stood behind the wall were no longer significant. They had lost their terror. The peoples’ will to freedom was stronger than the arsenals of violence. The question as to the causes of this dramatic change is complex and cannot be answered with simple formulae. But in addition to economic and political factors, the deepest reason for the event is a spiritual one: behind material might there were no longer any spiritual convictions.

The will to freedom was ultimately stronger than the fear of violence, which now lacked any spiritual veneer. For this victory of freedom, which was also, above all, a victory of peace, we give thanks. What is more, this was not merely, nor even primarily, about the freedom to believe, although it did include this. To that extent we may in some way link all this to our prayer for peace.

But what happened next? Unfortunately, we cannot say that freedom and peace have characterized the situation ever since. Even if there is no threat of a great war hanging over us at present, nevertheless the world is unfortunately full of discord. It is not only that sporadic wars are continually being fought – violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world. Freedom is a great good. But the world of freedom has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence. Discord has taken on new and frightening guises, and the struggle for freedom must engage us all in a new way.

Let us try to identify the new faces of violence and discord more closely. It seems to me that, in broad strokes, we may distinguish two types of the new forms of violence, which are the very antithesis of each other in terms of their motivation and manifest a number of differences in detail. Firstly there is terrorism, for which in place of a great war there are targeted attacks intended to strike the opponent destructively at key points, with no regard for the lives of innocent human beings, who are cruelly killed or wounded in the process. In the eyes of the perpetrators, the overriding goal of damage to the enemy justifies any form of cruelty. Everything that had been commonly recognized and sanctioned in international law as the limit of violence is overruled. We know that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the specifically religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for the reckless cruelty that considers itself entitled to discard the rules of morality for the sake of the intended "good". In this case, religion does not serve peace, but is used as justification for violence.

The post-Enlightenment critique of religion has repeatedly maintained that religion is a cause of violence and in this way it has fuelled hostility towards religions. The fact that, in the case we are considering here, religion really does motivate violence should be profoundly disturbing to us as religious persons. In a way that is more subtle but no less cruel, we also see religion as the cause of violence when force is used by the defenders of one religion against others. The religious delegates who were assembled in Assisi in 1986 wanted to say, and we now repeat it emphatically and firmly: this is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction. In response, an objection is raised: how do you know what the true nature of religion is? Does your assertion not derive from the fact that your religion has become a spent force?

Others in their turn will object: is there such a thing as a common nature of religion that finds expression in all religions and is therefore applicable to them all? We must ask ourselves these questions, if we wish to argue realistically and credibly against religiously motivated violence. Herein lies a fundamental task for interreligious dialogue – an exercise which is to receive renewed emphasis through this meeting. As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature. The God in whom we Christians believe is the Creator and Father of all, and from him all people are brothers and sisters and form one single family. For us the Cross of Christ is the sign of the God who put "suffering-with" (compassion) and "loving-with" in place of force. His name is "God of love and peace" (2 Cor 13:11). It is the task of all who bear responsibility for the Christian faith to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God’s peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.

If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God’s absence, his denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

Yet I do not intend to speak further here about state-imposed atheism, but rather about the decline of man, which is accompanied by a change in the spiritual climate that occurs imperceptibly and hence is all the more dangerous. The worship of mammon, possessions and power is proving to be a counter-religion, in which it is no longer man who counts but only personal advantage. The desire for happiness degenerates, for example, into an unbridled, inhuman craving, such as appears in the different forms of drug dependency. There are the powerful who trade in drugs and then the many who are seduced and destroyed by them, physically and spiritually. Force comes to be taken for granted and in parts of the world it threatens to destroy our young people. Because force is taken for granted, peace is destroyed and man destroys himself in this peace vacuum.

The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know him, and can we show him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace? Let us first briefly summarize our considerations thus far. I said that there is a way of understanding and using religion so that it becomes a source of violence, while the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. In this context I referred to the need for dialogue and I spoke of the constant need for purification of lived religion. On the other hand I said that the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.

In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: "There is no God". They suffer from his absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are "pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace". They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God and they invite them to leave polemics aside and to become seekers who do not give up hope in the existence of truth and in the possibility and necessity of living by it. But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others.

These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be "pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace".
OSMTH’s raison d’etre is expressed through the Brussels Declaration: “Aiding humanity on the pilgrimage through life.”
Vision and Commitment
  • Christian Ethos, Spirituality and Chivalric Values.
  • Domestic Charity and International Humanitarian Aid
  • Human Rights and the respect for Human Diversity
  • Interfaith Dialogue and Bridge-Building
  • Provide humanitarian aid to Christians and all peoples in need around the world, through physical, financial, and moral support.
  • Continue programmes that aid Christians around the world, especially in the Holy Land.
  • Promote a dialogue based on the principles of peace and justice amongst and between the faiths of the Sons of Abraham and the other great religions of the world, to establish better understanding and greater tolerance.
  • Mitigate human suffering by actively participating in activities associated with disaster relief, humanitarian aid, human rights, peace building and sustainable development, and the respect of human diversity.
  • Facilitate, mediate and advocate conflict-prevention and resolution by providing subject matter experts and supporting organizations in the fields of religious and international diplomacy.
"Non nobis, Domine, non nobis,
sed nomini Tuo da gloriam..."
 
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