Lutherans Break Ground on New Bethlehem College

April 2007 Ground Breaking

“I came so that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

This motto of the work of the International Center in Bethlehem was the theme for the April 13 official groundbreaking for the new Dar al-Kalima College. Excitement and celebration were woven throughout the mix of speaking, colorful flags, an Award-winning German gospel choir and the festive reception. Bishop Professor Dr. Wolfgang Huber, Presiding Bishop of the EKD, and a delegation from the German church brought solidarity and greetings from the 27 million Protestant Christians in Germany. A student spoke of her gratitude to the college because when she heard about plans for a new college in Bethlehem that would offer filmmaking, “a sleeping dream was awakened in me.” She thanked the project initiators for “making my dream come true.”

The college is a part of a joint initiative called Al-Diyar that consists of this college, the International Center of Bethlehem (Dar Annadwa) and the Health and Wellness Center, all born out of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, one of the 6 ELCJHL churches. The college has begun two-year degree tracks in glass and ceramics, documentary film production and tourist services, and is hoping to develop contemporary fine art, jewelry design and production, animation, graphic design and music, among others. The college will be located on the hillside site that currently houses the Dar al-Kalima K-12 school and the Health and Wellness Center. Students began taking classes at the International Center in Bethlehem in the fall of 2006, which would make the first graduating class of the college May of 2008.

According to Bishop Munib Younan, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Dar Al-Diyar, the college will be “a Lutheran-based and owned institution with an ecumenical orientation, but it will continue our practice of serving the whole community, regardless of gender, religion or political affiliation. ”

“One day the occupation will end. And we, as a church, have to assume responsibility from now. A brighter future will come as long as we dare to make these kinds of concrete initiatives to shape our society in the ethos of service, love and witness,” he said.