Located just up the street from the Church of the Nativity, the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church is at the heart of both the modern-day bustling city of Bethlehem and the biblical story of the incarnation of Christ. Living in the location of God’s incarnation, contextual and incarnational theology is an integral part of the lives of Christians in Bethlehem. Shaped by this identity, the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem has long sought to empower local expressions of the gospel – in theology, in culture, in community, and in education.
The congregation at Christmas Lutheran is very active not only within the church but throughout the surrounding community. Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac began serving as pastor of Christmas Lutheran on June 4, 2017.
We invite you to join us for worship on Sundays at 10:30am! While worship takes place in Arabic, the language of the local community, worship folders are provided with transliterations of the texts and prayers so that non-Arabic speaking visitors can follow along. Please join us also for coffee hour following the service.
Congregational life at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem is active throughout the weeks and seasons of the church year. Programs and gatherings include Sunday School and youth programs, Bible studies and Christian education, social gatherings, special events, and retreats. Each year a new theme is chosen by the Church Elders, and a plan for the year is formed to encompass all members.
Like many of the congregations of the ELCJHL, Christmas Lutheran is committed to providing quality youth programs and supporting the church’s educational ministries. Christmas Lutheran Church resides on the same campus as the International Center of Bethlehem (ICB) and has strong ties to the Dar al-Kalima Lutheran School and the Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture. The Lutheran community in Bethlehem works to support all of these ministries.
Pastor Isaac, the Church Elders, and the Women’s Committee are all active in visiting congregational members in their homes and growing in relationship with one another.
There has been a continuous worship life in the sanctuary of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem since 1893. Each Sunday worshippers from Bethlehem and around the world gather for worship in the sanctuary.
As visiting worshippers gaze at the stained-glass windows present throughout the sanctuary, they are likely unaware of how lucky they are to see them all intact. In fact, the stained-glass windows, from the Emperor Stained Glass Factory in Germany, are the only windows made by this factory in this style that survive today in their completed form.
It is even more amazing that these windows have all remained intact, because the church suffered significant damage in both 1967 and in 2002. In 1967, the roof and ceiling of the sanctuary were damaged by a bomb. Then again, in 2002, the church lay in the heart of fierce Israeli shooting and bombing. While under curfew, Bethlehemites could hear glass breaking everywhere. Former Pastor Raheb, who lived with his family in the parsonage on the church compound, also heard glass breaking and feared it was the stained-glass windows, but no one was allowed to leave their homes to check on the sanctuary for several days. When Rev. Raheb was finally able to go into the church, he was astounded and grateful to see that all the windows remained unbroken and largely intact. There is one small hole in the red robe of a figure in the left chapel windows, which is hardly noticeable but serves as a reminder of the frightening chaos and the damaging attacks of 2002. For more information on the architecture, construction, windows, organ, or bells, we invite you to visit our History section.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m.
Reverend Doctor Munther Isaac
Pastor Munther was born and raised in Beit Sahour. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Birzeit University, an M.A. in Religion-Biblical Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, USA, and received his Ph.D. in A Biblical Theology of the Promised Land, from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in Oxford, England. Rev. Dr. Munther is a published author of several books, his latest being The Other Side of the Wall: A Palestinian Christian Narrative of Lament and Hope, which you can purchase from Amazon in Arabic, German, or English. Munther was ordained in 2016, and he currently serves at two of our parishes; Christmas Lutheran, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Beit Sahour. Munther is a husband to Rudaina Kidess Isaac, and a father to two boys.
We enjoy having visitors and welcome your visit during our Sunday Worship, or at another time during the week.
Sunday worship is at 10:30 AM. Groups and individuals are welcome to attend. Bulletins with English translation and transliteration are available so that you may fully participate in worship. Please email Dr. Munther Isaac at firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of your visit so that we have enough bulletins prepared.
We are happy to meet with your group during the week! If you will be visiting Bethlehem during the week, please let us know about your travel plans so we can help make the most of your time here.
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