|Bethlehem (Christmas Lutheran Church)|
Holy Land Trip 2013
Reflections on an amazing journey
Our travelers to the Holy Land presented their impressions during our worship services on May 12. Here are links to the presentations of each traveler:
Nancy Baumgardner: The faces of the travelers
Debbie Spangler: Come and See
Dona Nobis Pacem (video):
Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem
If you were with us here in Jerusalem, you'd be surrounded by people from all over the world celebrating Easter - Orthodox Easter, that is! Even living in Ethiopia, I don't think I've ever seen so many in one place! And the Russian Orthodox are all over the city! And this morning we sang "Halle, Halle" in the little mosque that celebrates Christ's ascension. So yes, resurrection indeed!! - (Merry Spangler, May 4)
Friday at a checkpoint
Along the way we have met wonderful people. Like Yael, a Jewish woman who took us to the checkpoint Friday morning where she and other women from Machsom Watch observe what happens between soldiers and Palestinians and reminds the soldiers to be kind.
The site was crowded with Muslims wanting to get from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for Friday prayers. The line was backed up and moving very slowly. Yael said to the captain, "is there a way to speed this up so these people can get to the mosque on time for Friday prayers?" and suddenly two new checkpoint desks were opened and the lines began to move!
"I just reminded them of their humanity" Yael said "and our common need to get to worship."
Sunday at Christmas Lutheran Church
About the trip
Here is the basic plan for the tip: Once they arrive in Israel, they will travel to Bethlehem in the West Bank and will be based there for the first part of the trip. They will join our partners at Christmas Lutheran Church for worship on Sunday, April 28. They will have lunch at the Wi'am conflict resolution center, then have a guided walking tour of Bethlehem. On Monday, they will travel to Hebron and have lunch and plant olive trees at the Tent of Nations. On Tuesday, they will tour the many facilities and programs of the Diyar Consortium run through Christmas Lutheran Church.
Then the group will head up to the Galilee region, visiting sites along the Sea of Galilee, staying at a kibbutz, visiting Nazareth. Then it's down to Jerusalem, a visit to the Holocaust museum, followed by dinner with Dalia Landau, one of the subjects of the book, The Lemon Tree. Friday morning, they will meet with the women of Machsom Watch at a Bethlehem check point, then tour the Old City in Jerusalem. Saturday, it's up to the Mount of Olives, a visit to a children's school, more time in the Old City. There will be tour of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, followed by a trip to the Dead Sea with stops at Jericho and Masada. On the way back to Jerusalem on Monday, May 6, the group will stop at Qumran. Then it's on to Tel Aviv and the flight home.
The Madison Room story
When Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church, was in Wisconsin last summer to speak at the Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ, several other speaking engagements and fund-raisers were planned. At one of them, held at The Madison Club in Madison, over $14,000 was raised to support the new college in Bethlehem.
In September at a Bright Stars of Bethlehem meeting, a gathering of supporters from various denominations all over the United States, Rev. Mitri invited Bright Stars of Bethlehem representatives to help “build” the college by raising money for particular rooms. Nancy Baumgardner and Bonnie Van Overbeke, Bright Stars representatives and members of the Southwest Association UCC Partnership Committee, decided to support students in the media communications department by raising money for an editing room. The amount we needed to raise was $25,000.
It seemed a daunting task, but as of January 10, the goal was reached and, in fact, surpassed! We are pleased to announce that Wisconsin will be able not only to “build” a room but furnish it as well! This room, which began with donations from The Madison Club event, will be called “The Madison Room.”
Rev. Mitri Raheb -- our partner in Bethehem
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, a dear friend of our church, is a Palestinian Arab and Christian pastor who ministers to his people in Bethlehem, where his family has lived for hundreds of years. He is also the author of Bethlehem Besieged (Fortress Press, 2004), and I Am a Palestinian Christian (Fortress Press, 1995).
He is pastor of the Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, director of the Diyar Consortium and president of Dar Al-Kalima College. (The proceeds of our Christmas Craft and Cookie event support a student at the college!)
Memorial's partnership with Christmas Lutheran Church
In 2001 Pastor Bonnie Van Overbeke traveled to Israel/Palestine on a month-long study sabbatical. While there she met Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and director of the Diyar Consortium, the mission arm of the church. Upon her return, Bonnie and a group of interested members of Memorial church began to explore the possibility of forming a partnership with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.
The goals of the partnership include the following educating ourselves and advocating with other about the humanitarian issues involved in the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, especially as it pertains to the Bethlehem community; giving financial and prayer support to the life and ministries of Christmas Lutheran Church and the International Center of Bethlehem; building personal relationships between people in Wisconsin and Bethlehem through travel and other communication. We hope that through this relationship, the faith of each congregation will be strengthened and empowered to live out the commitments and dreams God has for them.
Here is a photo essay that describes the growth of our partnership.
2009 Trip to the Holy Land
During the trip from Oct. 26 to Nov. 7, they spent time in the Galilee region, staying in Nazareth. They were in Bethlehem for four days and worshiped with our partners there on Nov. 1. They also were in the Red Sea area and ended the trip in Jerusalem, visiting the Old City. Along the way, they met with a variety of residents to get a sense of how life is for them in this time.
You can read many stories from the trip and see pictures at Pastor Phil's Place.
Links for more information