South African Archbishop Desmund Tutu (c.), a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is pictured with Massachusetts Conference Minister Jim Antal (l.) and the Rev. Nancy Taylor (r.), senior pastor of Old South UCC in Boston.
Tutu keynoted a two-day conference, held at the church, Oct. 26-27, titled "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel." About 850 people attended, while another 200 protestors gathered outside to furiously denounce the use of the word "apartheid" to describe Israel. The event was sponsored by the Sabeel Center, a Palestinian-Christian organization with partnership ties to the UCC, which rented Old South's sanctuary for the event.
Both Antal and Taylor issued statements expressing support for Israel and opposition to terrorism, while also defending Sabeel's use of the building. "We grieve for Israel's profound experience of insecurity and fear as it is surrounded by a horrific combination of hostile nations, corrupt leadership, and terrorism," Taylor said in the statement. "We also stand firmly in support of Palestinian Christians and grieve for their experience of suffering, fear, and deprivation as an oppressed minority."