Bonus Session with Roby Barrett

Roby BarrettWe are looking forward to gathering for our final session of the “Going Places” series on Wednesday, January 9, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in Room C200. Dr. Roby Barrett will lead this bonus session on modern Israel-Palestine and on the current situation there and in the region.

All are welcome to come listen in to Dr. Barrett’s presentation.

Additionally, remember that we will be taking supplies to Bethlehem Bible College as part of our “suitcase ministry” to them when we travel to the Holy Land. If you’d like to know more or would like to contribute, see the post made to our discipleship leaders here.


Onward in 2013: Looking Forward

On a DigAs 2012 draws to a close and we quickly approach our date of departure for the Holy Land, remember the final two sessions of our “Going Places” series coming up on January 2 and 9.

The first will be split into two 45-minute segments: First, John will give a brief presentation on biblical archaeology, Digging In to Understand Biblical History. We will be introduced to the history of archaeology in the Holy Land and to the modern process of excavating a site. This introduction will give us an orientation to how sites are developed and interpreted, in order to help us understand some of the archaeology that we’ll encounter on our journey.

Tina will lead the second half of the session, which will be devoted to travel details, Q & A, and additional tips. We’ll plan a short break between segments so that any who wish to attend the first but who are not traveling with us this year can feel free to be dismissed if they like.

Then, on Jan. 9, we welcome back Dr. Roby Barrett for a bonus presentation on the modern situation in Israel-Palestine and an informed perspective on current events. In addition to the recommended reading mentioned in previous posts (also see under the Resources tab above), he has referred us to a well-written article on the internal challenges that Israel’s growing social diversity has generated. This is a good introduction to the reality of a complex social and political fabric in Israel of which many Americans are unaware. Read the article here.

Recommended Holiday Reading

Shlaim Iron WallAs time permits for those who are traveling to the Holy Land next month, keep doing some reading to prepare further for this experience. The presenter at our January 9 session on modern Israel and Palestine, Dr. Roby Barrett, has especially recommended Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. If you can, read (or at least peruse) this excellent book before that session because it will greatly inform your understanding of the current situation in the Holy Land. You can find cheap used copies on, and a paperback edition is available on Amazon.

And during these holidays, remember to keep the whole group traveling to the Holy Land in your daily prayers. May God give us smooth travel, safety, and a life-changing and faith-building experience on this journey.

Ancient and Modern

On Wednesday in our ‘Going Places’ class, we were introduced to the website and blog, and the excellent work of Todd Bolen. This week’s ‘Weekend Roundup’ on Todd’s blog includes a link to a good tourism video made in celebration of the 64th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

There is interesting footage of modern urban Israel as well as some great images of fauna that we have not yet seen in the context of our study. Enjoy!

Todd’s post this weekend also includes a note about a sale on the ESV Study Bible for Kindle. This is a very good study Bible if you are in the market.

Dig It: Water and the Word

In the introductory session of our class “Going Places” last week, we discussed some of the theological connections between the land, the people, and the blessings of God. God used the weather—specifically the rainfall—as a living lesson in Israel’s need to trust God and to be faithful in their covenant relationship. Wayne Stiles has some great thoughts on this in a recent post on his blog.

And speaking of water, we will be talking about the Sea of Galilee next week. The Jerusalem Post recently reported that water levels are encouragingly higher this fall for three main reasons. See the article here.

The history of the Crusades that John referred to in the Going Places class Wednesday is: The Dream and the Tomb: A History of the Crusades, by Robert Payne (1984).

HT: Todd Bolen

Trip Information Meeting – July 29, 5:30 pm, Room C200

July 29 at 5:30 pm in Room C200 at First UMC McKinney, Information meeting for the Holy Land Trip – January 18-27, 2013.  We will give you information about this trip and answer all your questions as we are able.

Why this trip to this place at this time?

Motivated by the transforming power of Jesus Christ and a desire to enjoy a deeper relationship and understanding of Christ this trip will provide an opportunity like no other. It is a spiritual pilgrimage to follow the route of Jesus and the disciples. We will travel on the major highways that are the same route as ancient roads. We will walk in the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. We will sail on a wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee, walk the Via Dolorosa and end at Calvary and the Empty Tomb.

Even more than seeing the sites!  We will meet and worship with Christians living in the Holy Land and support missions in the Palestinian controlled land.

Dr. John Harman will accompany this trip and teach pre-trip study classes in the fall. Tina Ripperger,, is the group leader and is able to answer questions about the trip.

More information, including a downloadable brochure, can be found in the document box to the lower right of this blog.

Be Prepared, Pt 2: Reading for Jan 14

First, note the correction in yesterday’s post: Roby Barrett will be with us on January 14 (not the 8th).

Next, here are the rest of the documents that Dr. Barrett has recommended for us in preparation for our session on January 14. Three articles have been uploaded to the FUMCintheHolyLand files that you can access just like other files we’ve shared: look for the Box in the righthand column of this page.

These articles are a bit more academic. Begin with Evans’ piece on the media’s role, then Witkin on the Nation-State system (a large file), then Nisan on the Druze in Israel. I won’t be copying these to hand out or emailing them because of copyright restrictions, but I will put them in our file-sharing box only until Saturday, January 14, then  I will remove them.

Here’s what we ask: Please download and read the documents, but do not pass them beyond our group. If you print or save any of these three documents, do so only for your own individual use.

Finally, Roby recommends that we read the prologue and first chapter of Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World for some more background on the Zionist movement. If you have this book (I recommended it earlier in our series), read pages 1-53. If not, you can actually read the first 51 pages on Google Books. I’ve scanned the last two pages and posted them with our other files.

Shalom and happy reading! See you Sunday!

Be Prepared: Getting Ready for our Jan. 14 Session!

We are delighted to welcome fellow church member Dr. Roby Barrett to lead our last pre-departure session on Jan. 14. This information session will be focused on learning about the various groups and factions that exist today in the Holy Land, and how these groups relate to one another. This includes the relationship between Israel and Palestine, as well the relationships among the groups that exist within Israel and within Palestine.

Our goal on January 14 will be to listen and learn about the situation as it currently stands, in order to inform our experiences as we travel. This session will not be geared toward policy or a discussion of how things should be. Dr. Barrett will have much to offer us, and he will plan to entertain questions as they relate to the evening’s topic and objectives.

Roby has generously provided us with some resources that will help prepare us for our time together. These come in two forms: some recent web articles that you can click on, and some print resources. The former are provided below. Tomorrow, I will create access to the other materials and post instructions here for viewing them. Copyright restrictions will require us to observe some limitations, but these should not be severe.

Please take time to peruse all of the items that have been made available to us. There won’t be a test, but the more informed we are, the better our session our be!,2506,L-4117312,00.html