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.
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.
ADVENT RESOURCES: The season of Advent offers a liturgically appropriate time to remember the people who live in the little town of Bethlehem. We have written a bulletin insert for your use in worship (available electronically). Please contact 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
Pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Beyond
September 30 to October 12 2019
Visit: key biblical sites- the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the tomb of Abraham and to the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.
You may also contact Bonnie Van Overbeke
Schmidt, Rev. Karla
Van Overbeke, Rev. Bonnie– Chair