Holy Land Partnership

Since 2004 Southwest Association, along with Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg, has had a partnership with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.  Our goals include increasing awareness and support of Palestinian Christians, praying for and supporting the work of the Lutheran church in Bethlehem, and offering opportunities for people to travel to the Holy Land and meet people whose lives are affected by the ministry of the church.  In 2003 a nonprofit organization called Bright Stars of Bethlehem (BSB) was founded to promote and spread the word about the many outreach ministries of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem that work to build hope and a brighter future for Palestine.  Bonnie Van Overbeke, former pastor of Memorial UCC, and Nancy Baumgardner, a member of Memorial UCC, became members of Bright Stars of Bethlehem in order to strengthen our partnership by participating with other Christians in a common effort to support the work of the Bethlehem church.

The Bethlehem Partnership Committee maintains the goals of:
*supporting the life and ministries Diyar Consortium through prayer and financial
*building relationships between UCC folk in Wisconsin and people in Bethlehem
*inviting people to “come and see” in trips to the Holy Land, seeking to deepen
relationships and understanding
*increasing awareness of the humanitarian and political issues involved in the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict
*strengthening our faith as we live out our commitment to be disciples of Jesus Christ in
the land of his birth.

The Bethlehem Partnership is active through the work of Bright Stars of Bethlehem. This is the
US fund raising arm for Dar Al-Kalima University of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem.



Mitri Raheb, pastor of the church in Bethlehem and president of BSB, was at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ.  He spoke passionately about the lives of his people and the life- giving ministries of Christmas Lutheran Church; he invited us to share in the work of his church as it serves the needs of children, youth, families and the elderly in the community.  It is our continued hope that congregations across the Conference will be interested in furthering their understanding of the Palestinian people and the ministry of Christmas Lutheran Church.

Pastor Mitri Raheb  shared these words.

A summary of Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb’s visit to Madison 2018 by Bonnie Van Overbeke


BETHLEHEM PRESENTATIONS: If you would like someone to talk with your worship or mission committee or make a presentation to your congregation about this ministry, contact Bonnie Van Overbeke or Nancy Baumgardner . We have a 45-60 minute presentation with video or slides for use with an Adult Education program, women’s group, or mission committee.  We could provide a mission moment in worship; Bonnie is also available to preach highlighting the work of the Church in Bethlehem.

UPDATES: You can find updates on the Bethlehem partnership at: Updates

Holy Land Partnership Committee Members

Baumgardner, Nancy


Beebe, Rev. RaeAnn

Mutton, Rev. Bob

Peterson, Ted

Schmidt, Rev. Karla
Campus Ministry

Spangler, Merry

Van Overbeke, Rev. Bonnie– Chair

Contact Us

(608) 846-7880