By Marion Homer

Kenilworth-based charity the ‘Friends of the Holy Land’ will host a national day of Christian solidarity on Saturday 22 September, in the Parish Centre of St Francis of Assisi Church.

The charity, based in Farmer Ward Road, has raised over £3.7 million since they formed in 2009.

Each year they support 2,000 named Christians living in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan.

FHL’s National Gathering is free to attend and open to anyone wishing to know more about the challenges faced by the ‘Living Stones’ of the Holy Land.

The theme of the day will be ‘More Christians helping more Christians’, lunch is included and the Bishop of Warwick, The Right Reverend John Stroyan, will start the day with a service of thanksgiving.

FHL are delighted to introduce Sami El Yousef, a native of the Old City of Jerusalem, as a keynote speaker.

Sami belongs to one of the city’s 13 oldest Christian families, having had a continuous presence in Jerusalem for centuries.

In his role as Chief Executive for the Latin Patriarchate Sami has seen first-hand the difficulties faced by Christians living in the Holy Land and the work of FHL to help the neediest cases.

Sami said: “FHL’s support is effectively directed to bring hope to a marginalised and weak community, showing them they are not forgotten.

"Through FHL the Holy Land knows it has a true friend in the UK who cares for their future, and stands ready to support them in education, employment, health, housing and social services."

Sami strongly believes that maintaining a vibrant Christian presence in the Holy Land requires a strengthening of the Christian run institutions of the region, which include many schools and hospitals.

Such organisations provide an invaluable service to the entire community regardless of race, religion, colour or creed.

FHL’s CEO, Maria McCaffery who worships at St Augustine’s Church on Beehive Hill in Kenilworth, said: “FHL are extremely proud to host Sami El Yousef at our National Gathering in September and we look forward to hearing his testimony.

"For nine years FHL has successfully navigated the complexities of the Middle East bringing direct relief to those Christians most in need.

"However, our office in Bethlehem continues to see a rise in referrals so our need for more funds is urgent.

"Our hope is that our theme of ‘More Christians Helping More Christians’ will show how, through our collective endeavours, we can do more to bring hope to vulnerable Christians living in the Holy Land.”

For more information on the National Gathering, and for details of how to book, please go to FHL’s web site

The National Gathering takes place on Saturday 22 September 22 from 10.30am – 4pm at the Parish Centre, St Francis of Assisi Church, Kenilworth, CV8 1HL.

Both new and existing supporters are warmly welcomed. The event is free to attend, includes lunch and an ecumenical service to give thanks for the work of FHL, its supporters and volunteers.

Pre-registration is required and a booking form can be found here alternatively call/email the FHL office: 01926 512980 [email protected]

Main picture caption: Last year's attendees

Caption: Guest speaker Sami El Yousef

Caption: This year's venue