Archbishop of Canterbury becomes patron of Friends of the Holy Land
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, has agreed to become patron of Friends of the Holy Land.
The charity was founded in 2009 to support Christians in the Holy Land and ensure their long-term survival.
Archbishop Welby takes over the role from former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who will remain a patron of the charity in a private capacity.
The appointment follows the Archbishop's recent visit to the Holy Land where he met Christian leaders and encouraged them to continue working for peace in the region.
During the visit, Archbishop Welby dedicated a new diabetes clinic part-funded by Friends of the Holy Land. The clinic adjoins St Andrew's Church in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and serves people of all faiths.
The Archbishop said he was "very pleased" to become the new patron of Friends of the Holy Land, commenting that the charity was doing "essential work" in supporting the region's Christian communities.
"I am very pleased to have become a patron to the Friends of the Holy Land. I support the essential work this charity is doing in the Holy Land, giving practical help and moral support to those in greatest need," he said.
Peter Rand, National Vice-Chairman of the Friends of the Holy Land, welcomed the Archbishop's decision: "We are grateful that the Archbishop has agreed to become a patron, and to show his support for the Christian people of the Holy Land by supporting the work we do there.
"I have no doubt that the Archbishop will encourage and motivate other concerned people to join us, and that as a result we'll be able to take on more projects to help the Christian people of the Holy Land overcome the difficulties they face, and remain as a resilient community in the land of Christ."
The charity is ecumenical and non-political, and its other patrons include the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols.