Women’s summit builds bridges between African Americans, Israel

Cathelean Steele, national project coordinator at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, leads a workshop about sex trafficking in the United States, July 21, 2017. Source: Twitter.

by Etgar Lefkovits

(JNS) — A delegation of 200 African-American Christian women will hold a first-ever leadership summit in Jerusalem this summer, seeking to strengthen the friendship with the Jewish people epitomized by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the event organizer said on May 3.

The “Women of the Bible” tour, which is being organized by a U.S.-based evangelical organization, will be hosted by Cathelean Steele, founder of Justice for Girls and national project coordinator at the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an African-American civil-rights organization co-founded by King.

The eight-day educational tour in July will work to connect African-Americans and Israelis, said Dr. Ruth Pauline Plummer, CEO of Covenant Daughters International Ministries, who came up with the idea for the Women of the Bible tour.

“Our goal is to build a bridge between Israel and black America, and we are doing this trip to help mobilize Christian women’s support for Israel,” Plummer said in an interview with JNS from her home in Jerusalem. “We are picking up the torch.”

Plummer is a native of Louisiana who went on to spend three decades in Georgia. Two and half years ago, she left Detroit to take up residence in Israel with her husband, the prominent evangelical leader Bishop Glenn Plummer, on a special religious visa in order to promote Christian support for Israel.

Ruth Pauline Plummer, CEO of Covenant Daughters International Ministries. Credit: Courtesy.

The women set to participate in the leadership tour include 140 Americans, with the remainder from the Bahamas and the United Kingdom, Ruth Plummer said. They include women from various Christian denominations and all walks of life, including pastors, entrepreneurs, businesswomen and singers.

Steele, the tour’s honorary host, will address the group at the street in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood named in honor of King. Her husband, Charles Steele Jr., is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The Christian women’s leadership summit in Israel is envisioned to become an annual event.

In addition to their tour of religious sites in the Holy Land, the women will be hosted by the First Lady of Israel Michal Herzog at the President’s Residence and will visit with lawmakers at an event with the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus.

The event comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and the largely supportive evangelical Christian community around the globe, based on shared Judeo-Christian values.

Plummer said that the fraught relationship between some African-Americans and the Jewish people is based on a lack of education. “We hear the voices of the very few and they are very loud,” she said. “They do not represent our community. We have to be sure that our children have a stronger understanding of Israel to gain a better appreciation.”

“If we want to see racism or antisemitism done away with, then start with laying the proper foundation in our children,” she said.

Plummer cited a letter that King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, sent Israeli parliamentarians acknowledging the actions the Jewish state took to commemorate her husband after he was assassinated.

“On April 8, 1968, just before he was killed, Martin delivered his last public address. In it he spoke of the visit he and I made to Israel,” the letter reads, according to the Jewish National Fund, which planted a forest in her honor.

“Moreover, he spoke to us about his vision for the Promised Land, a land of justice and equality, brotherhood and peace. Martin dedicated his life to the goals of peace and unity among all peoples, and perhaps nowhere in the world is there a greater appreciation of the desirability and necessity of peace than in Israel,” wrote Coretta Scott King.