Diyar Consortium and Dar al-Kalima Inaugurate Sports Hall

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen, a six-time Olympic medalist, has helped inaugurate a $1.2 million indoor gym for Palestinian women in the biblical town of Bethlehem.

Women’s participation in sports is still relatively unusual in Palestinian society, which encourages gender separation in much of public life.

Several women’s soccer teams have formed, but they lack training facilities.

The 1,300-square-meter (14,000-square-feet) sports center opened Sunday, with funding from Canadian Lutheran World Relief and the Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in the Canadian city of Calgary. The center will also offer space to volleyball and basketball teams as well as tennis players.

Klassen, 34, says that “women here in the West Bank don’t get many opportunities in sports.” She says she hopes the center will enable Palestinian women to train and build confidence.

To read the article in its original format, you can visit the AP website.

To read articles about the inauguration in Arabic, you can visit any of the links provided here:
Dar al-Kalima Schools
Palestine News Network
Atlas Sport

Getting To Know Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb

BETHLEHEM/JERUSALEM, 2 May 2012 – If you’re on the ELCJHL News List, or peruse our website regularly, you have a feeling for who we are and what we do. But it can be hard to really get to know a people and a place without visiting in person.

So, over this spring and summer, we hope to give you the opportunity to get to know us better by offering for you a series of interviews with the pastors of the ELCJHL.

We begin today with the first of these interviews with Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, and recent recipient of the prestigious Deutscher Medienpreis (German Media Prize).

We hope that this and upcoming interviews will help all of us to get to know one another better.

Read the interview with Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb.

Learn more about the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem.

Explore Photos from the ministries of the ELCJHL in Bethlehem.

LWF Congratulates Palestinian Lutheran Pastor Raheb for German Media Prize

Promotion of tolerance and mutual respect starts at an early age at the ELCJHL-run Dar al-Kalima Evangelical Lutheran School in Bethlehem where the student body is 40 percent Christian and 60 percent Muslim. © ELCJHL/Elizabeth McHan

Junge Lauds Holy Land Church Support to Peace-building Institutions

GENEVA, 24 February 2012 (Lutheran World Information)The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has extended congratulations to Palestinian Lutheran pastor Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb on winning the 2011 “Deutscher Medienpreis” (German Media Prize). The award, which Raheb will receive later today, recognizes his individual and the church’s peace efforts, said LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge.

Raheb is pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). He is among four recipients of the prestigious prize to be awarded in Baden-Baden, Germany.

“The Deutscher Medienpreis is a recognition of not only your hard work and passion for justice, it is an affirmation of your approach, and that of the ELCJHL, to the complicated challenges of building institutions that change lives and of building relationships that strengthen prospects for a lasting peace,” wrote Junge in a congratulatory letter to Raheb.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the prize this year, it honors individuals who, in their work for peace, have quietly carried on without much media attention. The Deutscher Medienpreis jury said Raheb was being honored for building the Bethlehem congregation’s education, health care and dialogue programs.

Read more…

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Click here to read the full article on the LWF website.

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Click on the highlighted links to learn more about the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, and the Diyar Consortium –an outgrowth of the ELCJHL Bethlehem congregation.

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Click here to view more photos from a day spent in the classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds of Dar al-Kalima Evangelical Lutheran School in Bethlehem, one of four k-12 ELCJHL Schools.

ELCJHL Pastor Mitri Raheb To Be Awarded Deutscher Medienpreis

BETHLEHEM/JERUSALEM, 17 January 2012 – The ELCJHL is proud to announce that Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and President of the Synod is to be awarded to prestigious “Deutscher Medienpreis” (German Media Prize) at an official ceremony in the city of Baden-Baden in Germany on 24 February 2012.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awarding of the Deutscher Medienpreis, which annually awards prizes to individuals who show exceptional performance, leadership qualities, and visionary work. Usually this prize is awarded to those individuals whose work has garnered much media attention, but to mark this anniversary the jury decided to honor individuals who, in their work for peace, have quietly continued on without much media attention.

In the official announcement from Deutcher Medienpreis, Pastor Raheb’s work in building up the outreach of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem in the areas of education, health care, and dialogue through the meeting places made available and welcoming.

The ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church and the Diyar Consortium, along with the other congregational and educational ministries of the ELCJHL reach out to thousands of individuals and families each year in Jerusalem, other parts of the West Bank, and in Amman, Jordan.

Bishop Younan congratulated Pastor Raheb on his prestigious prize, and expressed his pride in this international recognition for the work of Pastor Raheb and the ministries of the church.

Pastor Mitri expressed his delight in receiving this award and was humbled by the international appreciation and recognition of the efforts made on the local, regional, and international levels.

The ELCJHL is truly growing up generations of workers for peace, justice, and reconciliation, who see the image of God in all they meet and work for the rights and dignity of all.

Pastor Raheb will receive the award in February alongside the three other recipients, Stanislaw Petrow of Russia, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi of Afghanistan, and Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Congo.

For more information about the Deutscher Medienpreis, visit their website at: www.deutscher-medienpreis.de

ELCJHL Breaks Ground on New Church at Baptismal Site

ELCJHL Bishop, pastors, representatives, and members celebrate following the official groundbreaking at the new ELCJHL Pilgrimage and Retreat Center at the Baptismal Site at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan.

JORDAN/JERUSALEM, 16 January 2012 – On the Feast of Epiphany, 6 January, ELCJHL members and leaders gathered at the Baptismal Site at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan to celebrate the ground breaking for the new Evangelical Lutheran Pilgrimage and Retreat Center at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan.

Celebrations began with a service of Holy Communion by the Jordan River with Bishop Younan preaching and presiding, and Pastor Mitri Raheb, pastor in Bethlehem and President of the Synod; Pastor Sani Ibrahim Azar, pastor in Jerusalem; and Pastor Samer Azar, pastor in Amman assisting.

In his sermon, Younan celebrated the gift of Baptism and reminded those gathered of our shared baptismal calling:

“In Lutheran theology we baptize infants according to our understanding of Baptism as a gift of God given through grace by faith, and not because of our works. In Baptism we carry Christ and becomes heirs, with Christ, of the promises of God. To this gift of grace and promise the whole church has been continuously witnessing.”

“And we Arab Christians, too, have carried this witness for 2,000 years. Our existence has always been a call to be apostles of love to the world and to be integrally involved in our society, in which God has called us to carry out the call of our Baptism as living witnesses to ourselves and to others.”

“Because of our covenant of Baptism we have stood steadfast in this place, as we have stood steadfast to our calling to be instruments of peace, brokers of justice, defenders of truth, advocates for the voiceless, promoters of human rights, including the rights of children and women, and ministers of reconciliation in service for the sake of all humanity.”

“Today, we renew our baptismal covenant and witness again to the manifestation of God, by the Holy Spirit, through Christ Jesus, and to the love of God, through which we are all called. And we break ground today as we begin to build this new church to the glory of God and the service of all Christians—not only Lutherans—who wish to come to this place to pray and renew their baptismal promises.”

The land for this project was granted the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the ELCJHL in 2008 and visioning and architectural planning has been underway since then.

The new Evangelical Lutheran Pilgrimage and Retreat Center will be one of twelve churches built at the site that aims to focus on the spiritual, historical, and environmental aspects of the area, with special emphasis given to:

  • the rootedness of Christianity both in the history and in present-day life in Jordan,
  • the deep ecumenical relationships between the local churches, and
  • the strong interfaith relationships on both individual, community and leadership levels.

Bishop Munib Younan and Minister of Tourism Mr. Nayef El-Fayez break ground for the new ELCJHL Pilgrimage and Retreat Center at the Baptismal Site

Mr. Nayef El-Fayez, Minister of Tourism, was present on behalf His Highness Prince Ghazi, the Special Advisor to the King on Religious Affairs, for the service and groundbreaking, speaking words of welcome and encouragement to the ELCJHL.

Others present included Mr. Akel Baltaji, a Senator in the Jordanian House of Senate; Mr. Ghazi Musharbash, a Representative in the Jordanian Parliament; and Father Nabil Haddad, from the Board of Trustees of the Baptismal Site.

Mr. Nabil Zaki Goussous, Principal Architect at NZG Architects, has served as architect on the project.

With construction beginning soon, the ELCJHL hopes to have the Pilgrimage and Retreat Center finished before next year, and to hold the consecration of the site on the next Feast of Epiphany on 6 January 2013.

Bishop Younan invited all present this day to return in one year, and extended an invitation to “all Lutheran churches, both the local congregations of the ELCJHL and the global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition to… come on the 6th of January to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany at the Baptismal Site at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan in the spirit of love and ecumenism.”

The ELCJHL gives thanks for the generous support given and pledged by various international partners, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) working closely with the OSMTH, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for their grant, and many other friends of the ELCJHL.

Funds given in the US may be directed through the ELCA Global Gifts “ELCJHL Baptismal Site Project”. Donations from other countries abroad can be directed to the ELCJHL.

Click here or on the photo above to view more photos from the day.

Click here to view other galleries of photos from the Baptismal Site.

Click here to read Bishop Younan’s full sermon from the groundbreaking.

Christmas Eve Message from Bethlehem

The congregation gathers together--in pews, on the floor, in the balcony, and at the back, to hear the Christmas Eve message at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem.

BETHLEHEM/JERUSALEM, 4 January 2012 – Just as Mary and Joseph had difficulties finding room in Bethlehem so long ago, it looked as though worshippers at the Christmas Eve service at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem would have difficulties finding places to sit this year as more and more visitors kept arriving. But the congregation welcomed everyone in for the service, inviting people to line the aisle sitting on the floor, to stand in the balcony and to fill in the space behind the pews at the back. And, despite the crowded space, all stayed to worship and share the Christmas Gospel together in Arabic, German, and English.

As the Christmas Season draws to a close and we approach the season of Epiphany and beyond. As the New Year dawns and we set new goals and make new resolutions. As we continue to wait and work in hope for the fullness of reconciliation, redemption, and wholeness. We invite you to continue to carry the message of Christmas with you this year as we remember:

“Christmas is about welcoming Jesus into our midst, as we welcome the least among us, as we show hospitality to the stranger, for then we may discover that we have been entertaining angels unawares, or even God’s own son.”

– Rev. Fred Strickert, from his Christmas Eve Sermon

Click here or on the photo above to view more photos from the Christmas Eve service.

Click here to watch a video of the Christmas Gospel proclaimed in English, German, and Arabic.

Click here to read the Christmas Eve Sermon Rev. Fred Strickert shared with those gathered.

New Buildings at Dar al-Kalima College Dedicated

Traditional Dabke Dancing at Dar Al-Kalima College Dedication

BETHLEHEM, November 30, 2010 – On Tuesday, November 30th, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land celebrated the dedication of new facilities of Dar al-Kalima College.

The new facilities promote a “message of higher education and scientific research in Palestine” and includes film and television studios, a specialized technical library, an auditorium and theatre hall, as well as music performance rooms, classrooms, computer labs, a cafeteria and gathering space.

But, as Pastor Mitri Raheb, Pastor of the Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church, said, “we don’t inviest only in stone, but rather almost all of our focus is on human beings. Our mission was and will remain ‘To build a country, stone by stone; to empower a community, person by person; and to establish viable institutions that are here to last.’”

Dar al-Kalima College is the first and only Lutheran college in the Middle East, and is part of the Diyar Consortium, an outgrowth of the ministries of the Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethlehem, one of the six congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL).

To read Pastor Raheb’s full speech, to view the dedication event, or for other news about the newly-dedicated Dar al-Kalima College, visit the Diyar Consortium webpage.

Invention of History conference explores intersection of theology, politics

Archeologists, historians, film-makers, theologians and others gathered in Bethlehem on Aug. 23-29 to discuss how their disciplines have contributed to the current situation in Israel-Palestine. Participants in the “Invention of History: A Century of Interplay between Theology and Politics in Palestine” conference hailed from around the world. Notably, a group of South Africans reflected on comparisons of the situation here with those in their country during apartheid.

Organized and hosted by the International Center of Bethlehem, a ministry of ELCJHL Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, the conference was third in a series of five designed to generate research, discussion and writings in support of a just resolution to the conflict. Conference convener Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb said there are already two publishers interested in publishing the papers presented at the conference.