The goals of the Bethlehem Partnership 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 2004 the Southwest Association at the request of Memorial UCC, Fitchburg voted to establish a partnership with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Over the past 10 years several delegations of clergy and lay people have traveled to the Holy Land not only to see the places where Jesus walked but also to listen to the voices of the people who live in the land of his birth. We have hosted Palestinian and Israeli speakers and a dance troupe from the Diyar Academy (an outreach project of Christmas Lutheran Church) who have helped us grow in our understanding and relationship with our sisters and brothers in Palestine. Some of our churches have used resources – local speakers, books, films, study guides – to learn more about the faith and life of Palestinian and
Israelis; some of our churches have raised money to support the work of the Bethlehem Church and Diyar Consortium, its institutional arm. In 2010 Rev Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church, was the Thursday Workshop Speaker and one of the Preachers at the Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Conference. Our partnership has nourished our faith and increased our understanding. Our minds and hearts have been changed.
In 2014 the Southwest Association Partnership committee with the blessing of the Conference Board of Directors established a Conference wide Working Group (with representatives from other Associations) to explore ways to engage congregations around the Conference in the mission of the partnership. To that end, we invite your church to learn about the partnership and the people of Bethlehem whose faith and witness have captured our hearts.
WANT TO TAKE ACTION?
Here are some opportunities for you and your congregation:
Your sisters and brothers in Christ,
The Bethlehem Partnership Working Group
As of fall, 2021: Nancy Baumgardner; Phil Haslanger; Ted Peterson; Bob Mutton; Karla Schmidt; Merry Spangler; Joanne Lenburg; RaeAnn Beebe.
Contact Person: Nancy Baumgartner
Bethlehem Partnership Facebook
Bright Stars Bethlehem: Organization for people and ministries of Christmas Lutheran Church
Global Ministries, Middle East Initiative: Provides information and educational resources for studying the Kairos Palestine document