The inauguration ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in Bethlehem, under the auspices of Archbishop Fouad Twal.

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The inauguration ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in Bethlehem, under the auspices of Archbishop Fouad Twal. After his speech, Archbishop Twal blessed the building and cut the inaugural ribbon, calling the center "a new beacon of hope for collaborative work among churches." He also praised the HCEF’s efforts to promote solidarity among Christians and educate Americans with regard to Arab-Christian reality. Sir Rateb Rabie, HCEF President and CEO was honored by Archbishop Twal’s participation and thanked him for taking the time from his busy schedule to attend our inauguration for the sake of the Christian Community, and he wished Archbishop Twal all the best as he begins serving as the new Patriarch of the Catholic Church of Jerusalem on June 22, 2008.

Sir Rateb Rabie also spoke at the ceremony. He expressed gratitude to all the employees, volunteers and partners who believe in HCEF’s mission and work together for the common goals of Christianity. He stated "the cooperative work between the Churches of Jerusalem and an emphasis on ecumenical communication form the base of the center’s vision."

Mr. Ghattas spoke about the ecumenical vision of the foundation, and the Mayor of Bethlehem, Dr. Victor Batarseh expressed his pride on behalf of the city at the opening of the center. Many were in attendance, including Mayor Raij Zeidan of Beit Jala and Mayor Hani Naji Hayek of Beit Sahour. Also in attendance were clergy from the West Bank and Jerusalem, namely His Grace Rev. Bishop Munib Yunan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Palestine & Jordan, His Beatitude Patriarch Theofilos and His Grace Bishop Attallah Hanna, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem & Middle East and several representatives of the local, Faith based and international organizations.

The opening of the Ecumenical Center for Research and Development benefits the community by providing facilities for research, research support, educational outreach, training programs and support for ecumenical efforts, both locally and internationally.

HCEF looks forward to welcoming many clergy, educators and researchers in the future, and thanks everyone involved with the organization for their support. The building, which is owned by the National Orthodox Charitable Society, has been completely renovated by HCEF. In addition to providing meeting rooms, it also houses the center’s offices and has lodgings for visiting staff. Its opening is a realization of HCEF’s mission to serve the churches and people of the Holy Land.