On July 15—the nine-hundredth anniversary of the slaughter of thousands of Jews, Muslims, and Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem by crusaders claiming to act in the name of Christ—450 American and European Christians, most of them evangelicals, gathered in Jerusalem to ask forgiveness for the historical bloodshed and for a lingering "crusader mentality" in the church today.
After encircling the Old City on the city wall to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem," the Western Christians, as descendants of the crusaders, delivered an apology to Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Diodoros, and Muslim Mufti Ekrem Sabri.
Jerusalem served as the final station of the Reconciliation Walk (CT, Oct. 7, 1996, p. 90). For three years and four months, a total of 2,500 Western Christians—keeping roughly in step with the first crusade nine centuries ago—retraced the massacre trail of the crusaders from Cologne, Germany, through Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon, turning it into a repentance route. In April, the first teams entered Israel (CT, April 5, 1999, p. 23).
UNEXPECTED FULFILLMENT: Apologizing for the atrocities committed by their forerunners, participants hoped to break down some of the stereotypes that originated with the Crusades and still mar the way Middle Eastern Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Orthodox perceive Western Christianity and Western countries.
"I would have considered myself an optimistic dreamer if I had thought four years ago that the Reconciliation Walk would go this well," international director Lynn Green said at the conclusion. "An overwhelming majority of the thousands of people we met … received the apology with heartfelt appreciation."
At the concluding worship service in the Church ...1